10 YEARS AGO — 2002 GPS tracks gorillas in the mist: African mountain gorillas are catching diseases from tourists in the Virunga Mountains and Vwindi Impenetrable National Park, says Rich Minnis, a research scientist at Mississippi State Univ. To help protect them, researchers are using sophisticated GPS to generate geographic information that helps determine when and where the endangered mountain gorillas make contact with humans and domestic animals. Though only about 10 tourists per day visit the gorillas, the animals have experienced an outbreak of mange. The data from GPS will be incorporated into a geographic information system (GIS) to track where the gorillas travel and when they cross paths with humans, other primates, and livestock. Researchers expect to record about 1,200 gorilla observations in the next nine months.
30 YEARS AGO — 1982 Promising new lead-frame material: A new lead-frame material, copperclad stainless steel from Texas Instruments, Metallurgical Materials Div., offers six times the thermal conductivity of Alloy 42, the standard iron-nickel material. This property is said to significantly reduce junctionto- ambient temperature differences. In addition, the clad material provides better mechanical strength, ductility, and fracture resistance, all at much lower cost, and is fully compatible with existing stamping and assembly operations.
50 YEARS AGO — 1962 Ceramic insulates while conducting away heat: A new magnesium-oxide ceramic stops a current while passing heat. Developed by Minneapolis- Honeywell Regulator Co., the material doesn’t melt below 2,800°C, and is an excellent electrical insulator at temperatures above 1,200°C. As a thermal conductor, its conductivity is better than that of metallic lead. Rated at 99.9% purity, the ceramic has a 25,000-psi transverse strength. This, coupled with the material’s high density, gives it thermal shock resistance comparable to alumina ceramics. It is more than 98% nonporous and can be made in a wide range of sizes and shapes with varying degrees of translucency.