Category Archives: Features

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Nicaragua’s Bottom-Up Rural Electrification

Luís Euxebio Irías Calderón is the operator of a small hydroelectric power plant in the mountainous coffee country of northern Nicaragua, and he’s singing a song he wrote about turbines and transformers, to celebrate the arrival of electricity here in his remote corner of the country.

This radio report first aired on NPR’s Here and Now in partnership with IEEE Spectrum: [html] [mp3]. Continue reading

Nahielly Cervantes prepares spools for storing 3D printer filament made from recycled plastic. Credit - Matt Rogge

Building a New Economy on Soda Bottles and a 3D Printer

On a steep road on the outskirts of Oaxaca de Juárez, Mexico, a low buzz and plastic fumes emanate from a white house. A ribbed white paper tube snakes out of a window on the building, exhaling a light smoke which mixes with fumes from nearby open-air cooks and the sooty exhaust of rumbling, unmuffled bus engines. Inside, the tube is attached to a machine that’s gobbling plastic flakes—which can come from used drink bottles—through a funnel also made from a plastic drink bottle. At the other end of the machine, a spinning wheel draws out the fresh-melted polymer into a black filament just three millimeters wide and value hundreds of times what it was worth in in bottle form.

Read the rest of this feature at PBS NOVA Next: [html] [pdf].

livercancer101

A preventable cancer

I reported and wrote an infographic on the epidemiology of liver cancer. It was a good growing experience to work with a designer and an editor on a piece of visual, data-oriented journalism. I learned a lot and ended up wanting to experiment more with conveying data visually, with words and stories as a complement, rather than the other way around. I’m looking forward to the next opportunity.

To best see the visual elements of the infographic, I recommend checking out the PDF below rather than the HTML web version.

First published in Nature’s Outlook series: [html] [pdf].

boschbraking

How Self-Driving Cars Will Sneak Onto Our Roads

The car slammed to a halt on a sunny afternoon. A cloth and metal figure of a child wiggled back and forth following its sudden emergence into the car’s path. Inside, two sets of human eyes stared at the puppet kid’s eyes. The car was watching too.

A moment later, the car’s brake pedal lifted from the floor. The Bosch engineer riding in the car, who hadn’t even moved his foot as the vehicle brought itself to the abrupt stop, now stepped on the brake. Now that the car’s autonomous braking system—a chip that used images from a windshield camera—had concluded that the danger of an accident had passed, it was handing control back to the human driver.
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