10 YEARS AGO — 2000
Miniature relay fit for auto applications: The world’s smallest automotive relay, the G8N from Omron Automotive Electronics, Farmington Hills, Mich., is one-half the size and two-thirds the weight of the company’s current miniaturized relay. It can handle power-window motors, door locks, horns, wiper motors, and is suitable for smart-junction-box and module applications. The 14-V, 15-A relay also reduces power consumption by 50%.

30 YEARS AGO — 1980
Testing fighter designs for lightning survivability: Statistics show that every all-weather aircraft is struck by lightning at least once during its lifetime. At McDonnell Aircraft, engineers test an all-weather fighter’s vulnerability by generating lightning and firing the bolts at precision model planes. Lightning can hit an aircraft with electric current as high as 200 kA and 100-MV bolt voltage. Laboratory-generated lightning strikes the wingtip of a scale model of an AV-8B fight-attack aircraft and flashes away from the model’s tail. Initial tests involve high-voltage bolts about 25 to 30-ft long to determine lightning “attachment points.” The lightning’s path along the aircraft is also tracked.

50 YEARS AGO — 1960
Glass fiber gets a shotgun wedding: A glass-fiber barrel is the extraordinary result of research into building a lighter gun. Five-hundred miles of glass fiber are wound onto a steel liner only 0.020 in. thick and fused with an epoxy resin. The barrel is twice as strong as steel, yet lighter. Winchester Western Div. claims their 6½-lb Model 59 semiautomatic shotgun (which also has an aluminum receiver) is easier to point than heavier-barreled guns though they say that it should not be used as a crowbar. Heat-insulating qualities of the barrel mean the hunter will neither burn his hands after rapid firing nor freeze them in cold weather.

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