September 2, 2014

The Navy has to test its ships somewhere, but the way the Naval Surface Warfare Center is using wave-testing is truly fascinating.

The center's indoor ocean, which is housed in suburban Maryland, lies in a pool the size of a football field and contains 12 million gallons of water. In it, the Naval Surface Warfare Center uses 216 electronic wave boards to mimic eight types of ocean conditions, making the indoor ocean "the most sophisticated scientific wave-testing basin of its size in the world," according to Smithsonian magazine. Smithsonian's Abigail Tucker likens the wave boards to "giant piano keys, whose scales and chords are waves."

Since the Navy's ships are worth billions of dollars, testing them is no small matter. The Navy must account not only for flotation, but also for missile launching and helicopter landing, which can be much more difficult in adverse wave conditions. The new technology, which uses a frequency spectrum called a JONSWAP, makes the testing process easier than ever — alternating test scenarios once took 20 minutes, but the wave boards can do them in 30 seconds.

"It almost becomes a kind of art," naval architect Jon Etxegoien told Smithsonian. "But our challenge is to do what nature can do, not what it can't." Check out the Navy's indoor ocean in action over at Smithsonian. --Meghan DeMaria

This is terrible
8:39 p.m. ET
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the suicide rate for girls and young women between the ages of 10 and 24 is increasing, and at a pace faster than for males in the same age group.

Suicide rates since 2007 have been on the rise; there were 4,320 deaths that year, and 5,264 in 2013. Although the suicide rate for boys and young men is three times higher than the female rate for that age group, the increase for females has been steadier, The Associated Press reports. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people 10-24 years old in the United States, and experts say more girls and young women are hanging themselves or using other forms of suffocation.

This just in
6:55 p.m. ET

Actor Harrison Ford was injured on Thursday when the World War II training plane he was flying crashed on a golf course in Mar Vista, California.

Sources tell NBC News he was stabilized on the scene before being taken to a hospital, and has lacerations to the head and possible fractures. It is not yet known what caused the plane to crash. His son, Ben Ford, wrote on Twitter that his father is "battered, but OK." Ford is believed to have been the only passenger onboard the vintage plane.

Crisis in Syria
6:44 p.m. ET

Syrian state media is reporting that the commander of the al-Nusra Front, Abu Homam al-Shami, was killed during a "unique operation" carried out by the Syrian army.

On social media, the militant group confirmed that al-Shami was killed in an air strike along with three other leaders. State media said they were targeted while meeting in northern Idlib province. Al-Nusra is considered an affiliate of al-Qaeda, and on Wednesday attacked the Air Force Intelligence headquarters in Aleppo. The militants detonated explosives in a tunnel under the building, the BBC reports, and then fighters launched a ground assault against government forces, who forced them back. Twenty soldiers and militiamen and 14 rebels are believed to have been killed.

This just in
5:22 p.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The nation's largest banks are all financialy strong enough to weather an economic crisis, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday. Thirty-one banks in all passed the Fed's annual stress test, meaning they had enough available capital to withstand a theoretical depression in which unemployment soars to 10 percent amid collapses in the housing and stock markets.

However, it was only the first stage of stress testing. Next week, the Fed will announce whether banks pass a second test to determine if they are fit enough to buy back stock and distribute dividends to shareholders.

4:55 p.m. ET
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Cardinal Edward M. Egan, who led the Archdiocese of New York from 2000 to 2009, died Thursday of a heart attack. He was 82 years old.

In a statement, Cardinal Timothy Dolan praised Egan's "generous and faithful priesthood," adding, "Thank God he had a peaceful death."

space stuff
3:04 p.m. ET JPL

Astronomers have discovered what is only the second known planet living in a family of four stars.

While still rare, the find means four-star systems with planets are much more common than previously believed. Discovery News notes that the discovery could have significant implications about how planets form in multi-star systems.

Scientists had previously identified the planet, but thought it was part of a three-star system. Only recently did astronomers discover a fourth star, a red dwarf, lurking there.

"Star systems come in myriad forms. There can be single stars, binary stars, triple stars, even quintuple star systems," Lewis Roberts from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory told Discovery News. "It's amazing the way nature puts these things together."

Scientists now believe that four percent of solar-type stars are part of four-star systems. The findings about the new four-star system, named 30 Ari, will be published in the Astronomical Journal.

Let the boys play!
2:31 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Because of liability concerns, lots of cities across the U.S. have banned sled-riding in public places. And residents of our nation's capital are taking it lying down — literally.

The Hill reports that protesters upset over the sledding ban on the west lawn of the Capitol — prime sledding real estate — planned to stage a ''sled-in'' today. An online petition to get the Capitol Board Police to lift the ban had more than 800 signatures by noon on Thursday.

A police official told The Hill, ''For security reasons, the Capitol grounds are not your typical neighborhood hill or playground.''

Defiant sledders are reportedly being told to leave the premises ''brusquely'' by police.

Dropping names
2:27 p.m. ET
Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

As a former local news anchor and current executive vice president of Marriott International, Kathleen Matthews has a lot going for her besides a famous husband. And it looks like she'll try to add to that impressive resume. 

Politico reports that the wife of Chris Matthews, the firebrand host of MSNBC's Hardball, has begun "talking to Democratic activists and interviewing potential consultants'' about running for Rep. Chris Van Hollen's (D-Md.) seat, as he leaves to seek retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski's seat.

According to Politico, Kathleen Matthews has worked to improve Marriott's sustainability and to make the company friendlier toward the LGBT community. She also earned kudos from former President Bill Clinton, who recently attended the opening of a Marriott in earthquake-damaged Haiti, an effort Matthews spearheaded.

Scary scene
2:11 p.m. ET
Handout/The Asia Economy Daily/Getty

Mark Lippert, the American ambassador to South Korea, said Thursday he was upbeat and on his way to recovery after an attacker slashed his face with a knife.

"Doing well & in great spirits," he wrote on Twitter.

On Wednesday, a knife-wielding attacker stabbed Lippert during a breakfast lecture in Seoul. South Korean authorities said the assailant, Kim Ki-jong, was a fringe nationalist who acted alone, and President Park Geun-hye condemned the incident as an "intolerable attack on the South Korean-United States alliance."

All in a day's work
1:59 p.m. ET

Moles might just be the unsung heroes of archaeology.

A team of moles previously unearthed Roman artifacts from an ancient fort in England, and the creatures' talents are helping archaeologists once again.

The Viborg Museum in northern Denmark is using moles to help look for a fort from the Middle Ages. Researchers from the museum analyze mole hills after the moles bring pottery fragments and other artifacts to the surface.

"The closer we get to a building, the higher the content of items per liter we find," Jesper Hjermind of the Viborg Museum told The Copenhagen Post. "It's simple, but it works."

Hjermind even gave the moles' work an adorable name, "moleology." 

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