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Copyright © 2004, TDPI

This just in from the Associated Press, 29 April 2004:

BALTIMORE — Army scientists are working on a liquid body armor for clothing that stays flexible during normal use but can harden to stop a projectile when hit suddenly. Researchers hope the liquid could be used in sleeves and pants, areas not protected by ballistic vests because they must stay flexible.

The liquid, hard particles suspended in a fluid, is soaked into layers of Kevlar, which holds it in place. Scientists recently had an archer shoot arrows at it to see how well the liquid boosted the strength of a Kevlar vest (search).

"Instead of the arrow going through the Kevlar, it is completely stopped by the Kevlar vest and sometimes just bounces right off," said Norman Wagner, a University of Delaware chemical engineering professor who is working on the project.

AirBattleForce.com Skybird: Dale Brown’s Cameo Shot Vests treated with the liquid have also blocked stabs from an ice pick, and researchers are doing more tests to see if it can stop bullets or shrapnel, too.

The project, which has been under way for about three years, is a joint venture between the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (search) and the University of Delaware's Center for Composite Materials (search).

Eric Wetzel, a mechanical engineer who heads the project team for the Army lab, said a "shear thickening fluid" is a key component of the liquid armor. Hard particles are suspended in the liquid, polyethylene glycol. At low strain rates, the particles flow with the fluid, enabling clothing to stay flexible. But when heavily strained, the particles become rigid.

"If it's impacted suddenly by a projectile or a knife, say, it rigidifies and somehow restricts the ability of the fabric to move," Wetzel said.

The transition happens very quickly, a millisecond or quicker.

Wetzel and Wagner are optimistic the liquid body armor will be useful to local police and prison guards and perhaps it could one day protect people in automobile and airplane crashes.

And, from the prologue of my novel in progress:

UC BERKELEY RESEARCHERS DEVELOPING ROBOTIC EXOSKELETON THAT CAN ENHANCE HUMAN STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE
University of California-Berkeley, http://www.berkeley.edu, March 2004

The mere thought of hauling a 70-pound pack across miles of rugged terrain or up 50 flights of stairs is enough to evoke a grimace in even the burliest individuals. But breakthrough robotics research at the University of California, Berkeley, could soon bring welcome relief — a self-powered exoskeleton to effectively take the load off people's backs. "We set out to create an exoskeleton that combines a human control system with robotic muscle," said Homayoon Kazerooni, professor of mechanical engineering and director of UC Berkeley's Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory. "We've designed this system to be ergonomic, highly maneuverable and technically robust so the wearer can walk, squat, bend and swing from side to side without noticeable reductions in agility. The human pilot can also step over and under obstructions while carrying equipment and supplies." The Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton (BLEEX), as it's officially called, consists of mechanical metal leg braces that are connected rigidly to the user at the feet, and, in order to prevent abrasion, more compliantly elsewhere. The device includes a power unit and a backpack-like frame used to carry a large load. Such a machine could become an invaluable tool for anyone who needs to travel long distances by foot with a heavy load. The exoskeleton could eventually be used by army medics to carry injured soldiers off a battlefield, firefighters to haul their gear up dozens of flights of stairs to put out a high-rise blaze, or rescue workers to bring in food and first-aid supplies to areas where vehicles cannot enter…

I love it when a plan comes together!

See you in June! GBA, Dale…

Click here for more on Plan Of Attack!

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Plan Of Attack (MAY 2004)

The unthinkable is about to happen in this high-flying novel of adventure and suspense.

In Air Battle Force, Dale Brown introduced U.S. Air Force aerial warfare expert Major General Patrick McLanahan and his air combat unit of the future. Armed with a force of these robotic planes, the general and a handful of commandos were secretly deployed to the oil-rich nation of Turkmenistan to stop a Taliban invasion. And though the Americans won the battle, the war is far from over....

To punish McLanahan and his fleet of robot warplanes for their audacity, Russian president General Anatoliy Gryzlov decides to do the unthinkable: a sneak attack on America-unlike anything ever believed possible-that devastates her strategic air forces.

McLanahan has collected information that not only foretold the Russians' daring plan, but also gave him the data he needs to plan a counterstrike that could stop the Russian war machine dead in its tracks. But Patrick is no longer in charge of Air Battle Force, and the Russian sneak attack has left the embattled U.S. president with few options: retaliate with every weapon in his arsenal, even if it triggers a global thermonuclear war, or to a cease fire on Russia's terms...

...or listen to a disgraced and discredited young bomber commander's long-shot plan of attack.

"The novels of Dale Brown brim with violent action, detailed descriptions of sophisticated weaponry and political intrigue... His ability to bring technical weaponry to life is amazing."
--San Francisco Chronicle

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