SciTech Now Episode 221

In this episode, a high tech submarine allows for better underwater exploration; an average nose can sense 1,200 flavors; mysterious stains on St. Louis’ Gateway Arch prompt a tricky testing procedure; and the U.S. military is turning to microgrids to keep its power reliable and secure.

TRANSCRIPT

♪♪

A CLOSE-UP LOOK AT THE UNDERWATER WORLD.

WE'RE SITUATED INSIDE OF AN ACRYLIC SPHERE THAT'S OPTICALLY MATCHED TO SEAWATER, AND IT HAS AIR CONDITIONING AND COMMUNICATIONS.

TASTING WITH YOUR NOSE.

YOUR NOSE CAN SENSE 1,200 FLAVORS.

1,200 FLAVORS.

1,200 FLAVORS.

VERSUS FIVE OR SIX.

THAT'S RIGHT. THERE'S A DIRECT CONNECTION BETWEEN SMELL AND THE BRAIN.

PRESERVING A NATIONAL LANDMARK.

OUR SAFETY MANAGER HAS REFERRED TO THIS PROJECT AS 'MOUNT EVEREST.'

SMALL-SCALE POWER TAKES A BIG LEAP.

THE WORLD'S LARGEST PLANNED MICROGRID.

YET YOU'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF EVERYWHERE WHEN IT COMES TO THE INFRASTRUCTURE.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE BY...

HELLO. I'M HARI SREENIVASAN.

WELCOME TO 'SciTech NOW,' OUR WEEKLY PROGRAM BRINGING YOU THE LATEST BREAKTHROUGHS IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND INNOVATION.

LET'S GET STARTED.

THE OCEAN COVERS NEARLY 3/4 OF THE EARTH'S SURFACE, YET MORE THAN 95% OF THE UNDERWATER WORLD IS STILL UNEXPLORED.

USING SMALL HIGH-TECH SUBMARINES, A FLORIDA ORGANIZATION CALLED PROJECT BASELINE OFFERS A VIEW UNDER THE SEA AND A LOOK AT THE HEALTH OF THE MARINE ECOSYSTEM.

EXPLORING THE OCEANS HAS ALWAYS BEEN A DIFFICULT, DANGEROUS, AND EXPENSIVE PROPOSITION.

DIVERS CAN ONLY EXPLORE WITHIN A SHALLOW DEPTH AND FOR A SHORT TIME.

SUBMERSIBLES ARE EXPENSIVE AND PROVIDE ONLY A LIMITED VIEW OF THEIR SURROUNDINGS.

BUT A COMPANY IN VERO BEACH IS MAKING NEW-GENERATION SUBS THAT GREATLY EXPAND THE ABILITY OF RESEARCHERS TO EXPLORE THE OCEANS.

I THINK THE FIRST THING MOST PEOPLE NOTICE WHEN THEY SEE THE TRITON IS THE ACRYLIC SPHERE.

IT HAS TO BE OPTICALLY PERFECT, DIMENSIONALLY PERFECT.

IF IT WASN'T PERFECTLY ROUND, IT WOULDN'T BE AS STRONG AS IT NEEDS TO BE.

A GREAT VIEW ISN'T THE ONLY ADVANTAGE.

RESEARCHERS CAN ALSO DIVE SAFELY FOR EXTENDED PERIODS.

WE CARRY 96 HOURS OF RESERVE LIFE SUPPORT IN ADDITION TO OUR 10 OR 12 HOURS OF NORMAL MISSION TIME.

BECAUSE TRITON SUBS ARE SAFE AND RELATIVELY INEXPENSIVE, MANY RESEARCH GROUPS CAN UTILIZE THEM.

ONE SUCH GROUP IS PROJECT BASELINE OUT OF HIGH SPRINGS, FLORIDA.

PROJECT BASELINE IS REALLY SO SIMPLE THAT IT'S ALMOST TOO SIMPLE.

IT'S ABOUT EMPOWERING ANYONE INTERESTED IN THE WATER TO GO TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH AND WRITE A GENERAL OBSERVATIONAL REPORT ABOUT WHAT THEY SEE, ABOUT THEIR FAVORITE SPOT IN THIS WORLD THAT'S WATER RELATED.

DURING A RECENT DIVE OFF THE COAST OF LAKE WORTH, PROJECT BASELINE TEAMED UP WITH NOVA SOUTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY TO EXPLORE A LARGE RIDGE THAT HAD BEEN RECENTLY DISCOVERED.

IT'S A VERY UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY TO BE ABLE TO SEE SOMETHING REMOTELY AND HAVE QUESTIONS -- ALL KINDS OF QUESTIONS ABOUT WHAT'S THERE, AND THEN BEING ABLE TO GO VISIT THEM IS PRETTY AMAZING.

SO, WHICH TELL US IT'S WEST.

ALL THE WAY TO, THROUGH -- IT'S THE SAME RIDGE.

YES.

LOOKS LIKE IT.

YES.

THEY'RE BOTH ON THE RIDGE.

WE'RE REALLY NOT ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR POINT ONE OR POINT TWO.

THAT'S RIGHT.

WE'RE LOOKING FOR THE RIDGE.

THAT'S RIGHT.

WE HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO EXPLORE THIS RIDGE BECAUSE OF THE DEPTH.

IT'S ABOUT 250 FEET.

IT'S OUTSIDE OF NORMAL DIVING LIMITS.

AND SO TODAY WE'D LIKE TO UTILIZE THE SUBS TO GO DOWN AND GET A GOOD LOOK AT WHAT'S LIVING DOWN THERE.

MY ROLE IN THIS IS TO TAKE SCIENTISTS AND DIFFERENT RESEARCHERS FROM AROUND THE GLOBE DOWN INTO THE ENVIRONMENT THAT THEY NORMALLY STUDY PURELY FROM A LAB OR FROM A REMOTELY OPERATED VEHICLE.

BY PLACING THEM INTO AN HOV -- A SUBMERSIBLE -- WE'RE ABLE TO GET THEM IMMERSED IN THREE DIMENSIONS.

IN OUR MODERN SUBS, WE'RE SITUATED INSIDE OF AN ACRYLIC SPHERE THAT'S OPTICALLY MATCHED TO SEAWATER, AND IT HAS AIR CONDITIONING AND COMMUNICATIONS.

THERE'S A SURFACE TRACKING DEVICE.

WHAT I'M DOING IS TAKING THEIR LOCATIONS, TRACKING IT WITH THIS BOAT, AND THEN WE'VE GOT OUR CHART OF THE AREAS WE'RE HAVING THEM GO TO.

THEY CAN'T GET GPS ON THE OCEAN FLOOR, SO WE'RE THEIR GPS ON THE SURFACE.

WHEN WE GOT ON THE BOTTOM, WE WERE A LITTLE CONFUSED AS TO WHETHER WE WERE ON THE RIDGE OR OFF THE RIDGE 'CAUSE IT WASN'T AS PROMINENT AS WE'D HOPED.

IT TURNS OUT THAT WE DID HIT THE MARK, SO WE JUST KIND OF TRAVERSED THE AREA FOR A WHILE.

AND THEN WE CAME ACROSS TWO ANCHORS WITH CHAINS CONNECTED TO THEM, AND WE WERE INTRIGUED.

ONE OF THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GOING IN A SUBMERSIBLE AND SCUBA DIVING IS THE FACT THAT YOU REALLY GET A TIME TO APPRECIATE THE ENVIRONMENT YOU'RE IN.

THERE'S A LITTLE BIT LESS CONCERN AS AN OBSERVER ABOUT YOUR BUDDY AND YOUR LIFE SUPPORT.

YOU REALLY JUST GET TO SIT THERE AND EXPLORE.

WE WEREN'T LOOKING FOR A WRECK.

WE WERE LOOKING FOR CORAL AND HARD-BOTTOM STRUCTURE THAT NATURALLY PROVIDE HABITAT, AND WE, UNFORTUNATELY, IN THE COURSE OF THREE HOURS, FOUND NONE.

IT WAS QUITE A NEAT SITE TO BE ON.

THERE WAS A LOT OF FISH.

WE SAW A LARGE SUNFISH, CALLED A WHICH IS A VERY SPECIAL SIGHT TO SEE, ESPECIALLY IN 200 FEET OF WATER.

UNFORTUNATELY, WE SAW A LOT OF LIONFISH, WHICH ARE INVASIVE SPECIES, AND THEY HAD THAT WRECK PRETTY WELL COVERED.

THIS GIANT SHIPWRECK WAS PROVIDING THIS ARTIFICIAL HABITAT THAT THOSE FISH WOULD HAVE NORMALLY SOUGHT OUT NATURAL HABITAT, BUT UNFORTUNATELY, THE HARD-BOTTOM STRUCTURE, THE NATURAL HABITAT, IS GONE.

AND WE'VE ALL GOT TO GET A HANDLE ON WHY THAT'S OCCURRED 'CAUSE THAT'S WHERE THE FISH ARE SUPPOSED TO BE LIVING.

BY ACCUMULATING DATA FROM MANY SIMILAR OUTINGS, PROJECT BASELINE EXPECTS TO ESTABLISH A UNIVERSAL POINT OF REFERENCE FOR THE QUALITY OF THE AQUATIC ENVIRONMENT.

THE NEW STUDENTS THAT WE HAVE COMING IN AT THE MOMENT, THEIR BASELINE IS DIFFERENT.

AND SO I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT FOR PROJECT BASELINE TO CAPTURE THAT.

THE SOONER WE CREATE A STABLE BASELINE PICTORIALLY AND SCIENTIFICALLY, THEN WE'RE ABLE TO MONITOR AT A VERY EFFECTIVE LEVEL WHERE EVERYBODY IN THE COMMUNITY, WHETHER THEY HAVE A SCIENTIFIC COLLEGE DEGREE OR THEY'RE A SIMPLE PERSON OBSERVING SOMETHING ON TV, THEY'LL GET IT.

AND THE VISUAL NATURE OF PROJECT BASELINE'S EVIDENCE IS WHAT MAKES IT SO POWERFUL.

THE PEOPLE THAT DON'T DIVE AND DON'T EXPERIENCE THE WATER LIKE WE DO NEED TO UNDERSTAND THE IMPACT OF WHAT'S GOING ON FROM WHAT WE DO IN OUR EVERYDAY LIFE, HOW IT'S AFFECTING 2/3 OF THE PLANET.

THESE GREAT UNIVERSITIES AND RESEARCHERS ALL OVER THE WORLD HAVE VOLUMES OF DATA.

THEY EXPLAIN EXACTLY WHAT'S GOING ON.

BUT NO ONE LISTENS AND NO ONE READS TO THE DEGREE THAT IS NECESSARY TO CAUSE AN EMOTIONAL RESPONSE IN THE GENERAL PUBLIC.

AN IMAGE CAUSES A VISCERAL REACTION.

♪♪

AINISSA RAMIREZ IS A SCIENTIST, AUTHOR, AND SELF-PROCLAIMED SCIENCE EVANGELIST.

SHE IS CALLING FOR BIG CHANGES IN SCIENCE EDUCATION.

SHE JUST LAUNCHED A NEW PODCAST SERIES CALLED 'SCIENCE UNDERGROUND.'

HERE TO DISCUSS ONE OF HER LATEST PODCAST EPISODES, CALLED 'TASTE WITH YOUR NOSE,' IS AINISSA RAMIREZ.

SO, I GOTTA ASK ABOUT THE PROPS.

I'M PROBABLY GONNA CONTINUE TO EAT THESE PROPS WHILE WE CHAT, BUT WHAT DOES TASTING WITH YOUR NOSE MEAN?

ALL RIGHT, SO WE ALWAYS LEARN THAT TASTING IS PRIMARILY WITH OUR TONGUE, BUT THAT'S ONLY HALF THE STORY.

ACTUALLY, IT'S LESS THAN HALF THE STORY.

IT'S ACTUALLY WITH YOUR NOSE.

SO, I WANTED TO TRY A LITTLE EXPERIMENT WITH YOU.

OKAY.

SO, HOLD YOUR NOSE, PUT A JELLYBEAN IN YOUR MOUTH, AND THEN CHEW.

NOW, WHAT YOU'LL NOTICE IS THAT YOU'RE ABLE TO TASTE THE SWEETNESS, BUT YOU'RE UNABLE TO TASTE THE FLAVOR.

LET GO OF YOUR NOSE.

OH, MY GOSH.

PRETTY AMAZING, RIGHT?

I NEVER DID THAT BEFORE.

THAT'S -- IT'S SO SIMPLE.

YEAH! YEAH. SO, WE TASTE MOSTLY WITH OUR NOSE.

OUR TONGUES HAVE A HANDFUL OF SENSES -- BITTER, SALTY, SWEET, AND THEN SOUR.

AND THEN THERE'S A NEW ONE CALLED UMAMI, WHICH IS FOR SAVORY TASTES.

AND ALSO, SCIENTISTS THINK THAT THERE'S FAT.

HANDFUL OF TASTES.

YOUR NOSE CAN SENSE 1,200 FLAVORS.

1,200 FLAVORS.

1,200 FLAVORS.

VERSUS FIVE OR SIX.

THAT'S RIGHT, SO THAT'S WHY YOU ONLY TASTED THE SWEETNESS, BUT YOU DIDN'T TASTE THE FLAVOR OF WHAT THE JELLYBEAN WAS.

AND SO, SOMEWHERE IN OUR BRAINS, THIS -- THERE'S OBVIOUSLY PATHWAYS GOING FROM HERE TO HERE BUT ALSO HERE TO HERE, AND THEY TOUCH.

THAT'S RIGHT.

YES. SO YOU ARE ABLE TO TASTE BECAUSE IT GOES THROUGH YOUR NOSE BUT ALSO IT GOES THROUGH THE BACK OF YOUR MOUTH, AND THAT'S HOW YOUR NOSE IS ABLE TO SENSE THESE DIFFERENT TASTES.

NOW, WE'VE ALL EXPERIENCED THIS.

WHEN YOU'RE SICK AND YOU CAN'T TASTE YOUR FOOD, IT'S BECAUSE YOUR NOSE IS CONGESTED.

AND THAT'S WHY YOU'RE UNABLE TO TASTE SOME THINGS.

THAT'S INTERESTING.

THAT'S KIND OF THE FIRST THING THAT I DID WHEN I WAS PINCHING MY NOSE, IT'S LIKE, 'YEAH, THIS KIND OF TASTES LIKE WHEN I WAS SICK,' BUT I DIDN'T REALIZE THAT THAT WAS... SO, BUT OUR RECEPTORS ARE ALSO CAPABLE OF FIGURING OUT, I GUESS, THE MOST CORE THING, 'IS THIS UNHEALTHY OR DANGEROUS FOR ME OR NOT?'

RIGHT?

RIGHT.

THERE'S SOMETHING THAT WE TRIGGER WHEN WE WALK INTO A ROOM AND WE SMELL SOMETHING THAT'S CHEMICAL OR GAS.

WE KIND OF REACT TO IT.

YEAH, AND WE HAVE A DIRECT LINK TO OUR BRAIN WITH THAT.

IN FACT, THEY'VE DONE STUDIES WHERE THEY WOULD PUT A MOUSE IN A CAGE AND THEY WOULD HAVE A SMALL PIECE OF COTTON, AND IT WOULD HAVE CAT URINE ON IT.

AND THE MOUSE WOULD MOVE AS FAR AWAY AS IT COULD FROM THAT COTTON, EVEN THOUGH IT COULDN'T SEE THE CAT.

SO, THERE'S A DIRECT CONNECTION BETWEEN SMELL AND THE BRAIN.

SO, WHAT HAPPENS?

WHEN YOU SAID 1,200 RECE-- I MEAN, THESE ARE DIFFERENT RECEPTORS?

I MEAN, HOW DO SMELLS BIND?

RIGHT. THEY'RE DIFFERENT RECEPTORS, AND A FLAVOR IS ACTUALLY A COMBINATION OF DIFFERENT MOLECULES, AND YOU CAN THINK OF THE RECEPTORS AS DIFFERENT KEYHOLES, EACH ONE TAKING A DIFFERENT MOLECULE.

AND WHEN THEY REACH THOSE DIFFERENT KEYHOLES, THAT REGISTERS AS A TASTE.

AND SO THAT MEANS THERE'S DIFFERENT COMBINATIONS OF THINGS, TOO.

THAT'S RIGHT.

SO, COFFEE IS LIKE 50 DIFFERENT MOLECULES, AND YOU CAN CHANGE A COUPLE OF THE MOLECULES, AND ONE WILL BE A ROAST, AND ONE WILL BE A FRENCH ROAST.

SO, THERE'S -- THAT'S HOW TASTE IS.

WHY IS IT MORE DEVELOPED IN SOME PEOPLE THAN OTHERS?

THAT'S MORE OF A GENETICS THING.

I MEAN, I DON'T KNOW FULLY ABOUT WHY THAT'S THE CASE.

BUT WHAT I WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU IS THAT, YOU KNOW, THIS TASTING WITH YOUR NOSE IS GREAT FOR US, BUT AS YOU GET OLDER, YOUR ABILITY TO TASTE FOOD DIMINISHES BECAUSE YOUR NOSE -- THE RECEPTORS BECOME LESS ABLE TO DETECT DIFFERENT FLAVORS.

SO, YOU KNOW, THE REASON WHY GRANDMA MAY BE TASTING MILK THAT'S A LITTLE SOUR IS THAT SHE CAN'T TASTE IT.

SHE DOESN'T HAVE THAT ABILITY TO TASTE THAT IT'S SOUR NOW -- OR THAT THE MILK IS OFF.

SO, WHAT THEY'RE STARTING TO DO IS THEY'RE ACTUALLY STARTING TO PUT LITTLE SENSORS ON MILK SO THAT PEOPLE CAN KNOW IF IT'S OFF OR NOT, AND ALSO THEY'RE STARTING TO DEVELOP NEW SPICES SO THAT IT WILL ACTIVATE THE TONGUE BECAUSE THE NOSE IS NOW DIMINISHED IN ITS ABILITY TO TASTE FLAVORS.

I'M ASSUMING PEOPLE THINK ABOUT THIS OBVIOUSLY IN THE PERFUME BUSINESS, RIGHT, BUT ALSO WHEN YOU'RE COOKING FOR, SAY, AIRLINES.

I'VE HEARD THAT OUR TASTES CHANGE WHEN WE'RE 30,000 FEET IN THE AIR OR WHATEVER, THE PRESSURES, OR SOMETHING.

THERE MAY BE SOME PRESSURE DIFFERENCE, BUT I DO KNOW THAT MARKETERS USE SCENTS, NOT ONLY FOR PERFUMES, BUT THEY'LL PUT WONDERFUL SCENTS IN AREAS THAT THEY WANT YOU TO SHOP.

SO THAT MOVIE WHERE THEY WANT YOU TO GO BECAUSE THERE'S A SCENT, AND YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW IT.

WOW.

YEAH.

WE'RE BEING MANIPULATED.

WE'RE BEING SORT OF -- IT'S ALMOST LIKE THE CARTOONS WHERE YOU SEE THE LITTLE TRAIL AND --

THAT'S RIGHT.

WE'RE JUST KIND OF BEING HOOKED BY OUR NOSES TO GO SHOP IN SPECIFIC PARTS OF THE STORE.

THAT'S ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.

AINISSA RAMIREZ, THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU.

♪♪

BILL NYE HERE, AND IF YOU'RE LIKE ME -- AND I KNOW I AM -- YOU'RE CONCERNED ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE.

DO YOU WANT TO GET RICH?

I WANT YOU TO GET RICH.

OKAY, THERE'S THREE THINGS WE NEED.

WE NEED ENERGY STORAGE.

THAT'S LIKE A BETTER BATTERY, A BETTER SYSTEM OF BATTERIES.

IF YOU COULD INVENT THAT, YOU WOULD GET CRAZY RICH.

THEN THE OTHER THING WE NEED IS BETTER TRANSMISSION LINES, A BETTER WAY TO DISTRIBUTE THIS ELECTRICITY ONCE WE PRODUCE IT IN RENEWABLE WAYS -- LET'S SAY WITH SOLAR ENERGY OR WITH WIND.

AND THEN THE THIRD THING WE NEED IS A WAY TO DESALINATE SEAWATER, TAKE THE SALT OUT OF SEAWATER, IN AN ECONOMICAL WAY.

IF YOU CAN DO ONE OF THOSE THREE THINGS, IF YOU CAN DO ALL THREE OF THOSE THINGS, YOU WOULD -- DARE I SAY IT? -- CHANGE THE WORLD!

[ LAUGHING MANIACALLY ] ♪♪

THE ICONIC ST. LOUIS GATEWAY ARCH, AN ENGINEERING WONDER THAT TOWERS HIGH ABOVE THE SKYLINE, IS NOW 50 YEARS OLD.

DISCOLORATION ON THE STAINLESS-STEEL EXTERIOR HAS BUILDING DOCTORS CLIMBING 630 FEET UP THE ARCH TO EXAMINE THE CAUSE OF SOME OF THOSE MYSTERIOUS STAINS.

HERE'S A LOOK.

♪♪

WELL, WE ARE BUILDING DOCTORS, AND WHAT WE'RE DOING IS WE'RE DOING A VERY CAREFUL DIAGNOSIS OF THE BUILDING.

BUT THERE IS NO OTHER BUILDING QUITE LIKE IT.

ST. LOUIS'S GATEWAY ARCH, OFFICIALLY THE JEFFERSON NATIONAL EXPANSION MEMORIAL, IS NOW 50 YEARS OLD, AND EXTENSIVE INTERIOR INSPECTION DETERMINED IT IS STRUCTURALLY SOUND.

BUT OUTSIDE, WELL, YEARS AGO PEOPLE BEGAN TO NOTICE THAT THE SHINY STAINLESS-STEEL SURFACE WAS, WELL, STAINED HERE AND THERE, AND THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE DECIDED IT NEEDED TO KNOW 'IS THAT JUST DIRT, OR IS IT DAMAGE?'

FOR THIS PART OF THE JOB, THE FIRM OF WISS, JANNEY, ELSTNER ASSOCIATES BROUGHT MEMBERS OF THEIR APPROPRIATELY NAMED DIFFICULT ACCESS TEAM.

[ WIND WHISTLING ]

OUR SAFETY MANAGER HAS REFERRED TO THIS PROJECT AS 'MOUNT EVEREST.'

THIS IS THE SAME COMPANY THAT INSPECTED THE STONES AND MORTAR ON THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT AFTER DAMAGE FROM AN EARTHQUAKE.

BUT THE ARCH IS TALLER, AND IT'S CURVED.

ON THE TOP SIDE, THEY WERE ABLE TO RAPPEL UP AND DOWN AND INSPECT ALL THE WELDS.

BUT IT WAS THE UNDERSIDE THAT PRESENTED THE REAL CHALLENGE AND THE MOST INTERESTING AND WORRISOME STAINS.

THE GUY BEING LOWERED DOWN AND ATTACHING HIMSELF WITH SUCTION CUPS IS DAVE MEGERLE.

I WAS THE ONE THAT EVERYBODY SAW RIGHT HERE AT STATION 35, WHERE WE STOPPED AND TOOK SOME SAMPLES.

WE TOOK SOME SILICONE SAMPLES THAT GAVE US THE TEXTURE OF THE STAINLESS STEEL THAT EVERYONE WAS CONCERNED ABOUT.

♪♪ THERE WAS SOME STAINING THERE THAT THEY WANTED TO TEST WITH SOME CLEANING METHODS.

A LOT OF WHAT HE TRIED WERE JUST COMMON HOUSEHOLD PADS AND CLEANERS, BUT IN DIFFERENT PLACES, THEY USED GUNSHOT-RESIDUE TAPE TO PICK UP THE DIRT AND PARTICULATES FOR EXAMINATION UNDER AN ELECTRON MICROSCOPE AND LABORATORY ANALYSIS.

THE FINAL REPORT WOULD NOT COME OUT FOR SIX MONTHS.

SO, WHEN WE'RE LOOKING AT CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS OF ANY TYPE, THEY ALL CORRODE, JUST AS OUR BODIES CORRODE.

IT'S CALLED AGING.

THERE WAS A LOT OF INTEREST IN THIS BY ARCHITECTS, ENGINEERS, AND HISTORIC PRESERVATIONISTS.

AND THE NEWS FOR THE GATEWAY ARCH WAS GOOD.

THE SURFACE DISCOLORATION IS SUPERFICIAL.

IT WILL HAVE NO EFFECT.

IT'S ALL FROM INDUSTRIAL POLLUTANTS, SO I THINK...

IN OTHER WORDS, THE ARCH IS DIRTY AND DISCOLORED, BUT NOT UNIFORMLY.

WHEN IT RAINS, THE TOP SIDE GETS A GOOD WASHING, BUT ON THE UNDERSIDE, THE DIRT COLLECTS ON THE WELDS AND ANY OTHER SCRATCHES AND IMPERFECTIONS.

WHEN THE ARCH WAS NEARING COMPLETION, A METAL BRIDGE, OR STRUT, WAS USED TO KEEP THE TWO LEGS APART, AND THERE ARE NOW STAINS WHERE IT WAS ATTACHED.

SO, THESE ARE THE THREE PLACES WHERE THE STRUT GRABBED THE -- I BELIEVE THIS IS THE SOUTH LEG.

AND AS FOR THOSE STRIPES, THE REPORT SAYS THAT DURING PRODUCTION, THE POLISHING OF THE METAL PLATES LEFT VERY SUBTLE SCRATCHES, AND WHERE THEY OVERLAP, THAT'S WHERE THE DISCOLORATION HAS EMERGED.

SO, THE QUESTION WAS 'WILL THE ARCH BE CLEANED?'

THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE SAYS FOR RIGHT NOW, NO.

TOO COMPLICATED, TOO EXPENSIVE.

AGAIN, I THINK WE ARE OPEN IN THE LONG-TERM THINKING TO CLEANING BECAUSE WHO KNOWS?

THERE MAY BE A WAY SOMEDAY, BUT... I GUESS WE NEED TO THINK ABOUT HOW THAT COULD EVEN BE DONE.

YOU KNOW, THIS ROPE ACCESS THAT WAS USED TO GET TO THE EXTERIOR IS PERFECT FOR DOING THAT INVESTIGATORY WORK, BUT TO ACTUALLY BE ABLE TO HAVE WORK PLATFORMS THAT PEOPLE CAN WORK FROM TO ACTUALLY CLEAN -- THAT'S SOMETHING THAT WE DON'T KNOW HOW IT WOULD BE DONE.

THIS IS, BY FAR, THE MOST TECHNICALLY CHALLENGING JOB I'VE EVER DONE.

YOU DON'T MIND IF THEY DON'T ASK YOU TO CLEAN IT, THEN?

NO, I'VE GOT SOME IDEAS ON HOW TO CLEAN IT, BUT IT WOULD BE A DAUNTING TASK TO CLEAN IT.

♪♪

THE U.S. ELECTRIC GRID HAS BEEN CALLED THE WORLD'S LARGEST MACHINE, BUT THE NUMBER OF MAJOR POWER OUTAGES ACROSS THE COUNTRY HAS INCREASED SIGNIFICANTLY SINCE 2000, CREATING POTENTIAL RISKS FOR NATIONAL SECURITY.

THE MILITARY IS ADDRESSING THIS CONCERN BY DEVELOPING SMALLER, INDEPENDENT ELECTRICITY SYSTEMS, KNOWN AS MICROGRIDS.

REPORTER DAN BOYCE TAKES US TO A MICROGRID AT THE FORT CARSON ARMY BASE IN COLORADO AND SHOWS US HOW THESE SYSTEMS COULD BE REPLICATED IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR.

[ BEEPING ]

READY FOR A RIDE?

HERE WE GO.

RAMON CROCKETT IS A SUPPLY SPECIALIST AT FORT CARSON ARMY BASE.

YOU CAN BASICALLY CONSIDER US KIND OF LIKE A HOME DEPOT OR ACE HARDWARE FOR THE POST.

HE SPENDS MUCH OF HIS DAY IN A DELIVERY TRUCK HAULING STUFF HERE AND THERE...

HERE'S YOUR PARTS.

ALL RIGHT, SIR.

YOU HAVE A GOOD DAY.

BUT WHEN CROCKETT SHOWS UP AND WHEN HE LEAVES, IT'S WITH A WHISPER.

YEAH. IT'S NICE.

ALL THE GUYS SAY I SNEAK UP ON 'EM.

[ LAUGHS ]

HIS TRUCK IS ONE OF A SMALL FLEET OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES DRIVING AROUND FORT CARSON, RANGING FROM CARRYING REFRIGERATED GOODS TO WEAPONS TO TROOPS HEADING OUT TO TRAIN.

WE REALLY DON'T CARE WHAT THE VEHICLE DOES FOR ITS MISSION.

IT'S JUST THE FACT THAT IT'S AN ELECTRIC VEHICLE THAT'S DOING IT INSTEAD OF A GASOLINE ENGINE.

BILL WAUGAMAN LEADS ENERGY SECURITY FOR U.S. NORTHERN COMMAND, THE MILITARY'S HOMELAND DEFENSE ARM.

FORT CARSON'S ELECTRIC VEHICLES MAKE AN IMPORTANT PIECE OF THE PROJECT ON WAUGAMAN'S SHIRT.

IT'S ONE OF THOSE CLEVER GOVERNMENT ACRONYMS.

SPIDERS IS THE SMART POWER INFRASTRUCTURE DEMONSTRATION FOR ENERGY RELIABILITY AND SECURITY.

UH, LET'S JUST STAY WITH CALLING IT 'SPIDERS.'

FORT CARSON IS HOOKED UP TO THE SAME ELECTRICITY GRID WE ALL USE, WHICH IS RELIABLE THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE TIME, BUT VINCE GUTHRIE, THE BASE'S UTILITY MANAGER, SAYS INDEPENDENCE HAS ITS ADVANTAGES.

IF WE EVER RUN INTO THAT CRISIS SOMEDAY WHERE WE HAVE A LONG-TERM ELECTRIC OUTAGE -- YOU KNOW, A HURRICANE KATRINA, SOME TYPE OF DISASTER, A TERRORIST EVENT...

IF SOMETHING LIKE THAT HAPPENS, SPIDERS ALLOWS FORT CARSON TO RUN ON ITS OWN POWER GENERATED ON SITE FROM THESE SOLAR PANELS, DIESEL GENERATORS, AND, YEAH, THE ELECTRIC TRUCKS.

IN AN EMERGENCY, THE TRUCKS CAN PLUG IN AND ACT AS STORAGE BATTERIES FOR THE ELECTRICITY GENERATED.

FORT CARSON IS LIKE A SMALL VILLAGE WITH HOUSES AND SCHOOLS, BUT OF THE 95 BUILDINGS HERE, WAUGAMAN SAYS SPIDERS ONLY REALLY NEEDS TO BE CONCERNED WITH POWERING A FEW.

THEY REALLY ONLY HAVE THREE THAT WE ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO MAINTAIN THE POWER TO IN ORDER TO DO THE MISSION.

LIKE THE DATA CENTER AND THE HEADQUARTERS COMMAND POST.

ALL OF THIS HELPS WITH THE SECURITY AT THIS MILITARY BASE, MAKES THE POWER HERE MORE RELIABLE, BUT THE SUITE OF TECHNOLOGIES BEING DEVELOPED HERE COULD ONE DAY BE IMPLEMENTED IN ALL KINDS OF OTHER SECTORS.

AND IT ALREADY IS.

SOME HOSPITALS, JAILS, AND UNIVERSITIES HAVE MICROGRIDS.

USUALLY, THOUGH, THEY RELY ON DIESEL GENERATORS.

FUEL TANKERS HAVE BEEN ANCHORED OFFSHORE IN NEW YORK HARBOR, WAITING FOR THE PORTS TO OPEN.

RESIDENTS OF HARD-HIT AREAS IN NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY HAVE BEEN SUFFERING THROUGH MAJOR GAS SHORTAGES.

DURING SUPERSTORM SANDY, DIESEL SHORTAGES RACKED THE EAST COAST.

WAUGAMAN SAYS GENERATORS FAILED IN MULTIPLE HOSPITALS FROM OVERUSE.

RENEWABLES AND BATTERIES COULD MAKE THESE MICROGRIDS MORE RELIABLE.

THE MILITARY IS AN IMPORTANT TESTING GROUND FOR MAKING SURE THESE SYSTEMS WORK.

WE PLAY WAR, RIGHT?

AND SO, ON THE MILITARY INSTALLATION, WE CAN RED-TEAM.

WE CAN BASICALLY ATTACK OUR INFRASTRUCTURE FROM THE CYBER-POINT OF VIEW.

WE HAVE TO PILOT THESE THINGS SO WE REALIZE WHAT THE POTENTIAL IS IN THE FUTURE, SO YOU CAN HAVE SOME LESSONS LEARNED AND YOU CAN HELP DRIVE THOSE MARKETS, 'CAUSE A LOT OF THESE COMPANIES ARE STILL EVOLVING THEIR TECHNOLOGIES.

THIS WOULD BE KNOWN AS A UTILITY-SCALE MICROGRID.

SOME ENTREPRENEURS, THOUGH, ARE TRYING TO GET AHEAD OF THE MARKETS.

WE'RE HEADING NORTH OUT OF THE FORT COLLINS-LOVELAND- GREELEY AREA.

CRAIG HARRISON WORKS IN REAL ESTATE.

AND OUT IN AN EMPTY SQUARE MILE OF NORTHERN COLORADO PASTURE... [ LOWING ] ...NEXT TO A 30,000-ACRE BISON RANCH... HERE WE ARE.

HERE WE ARE.

...HE HAS A VISION -- THE NIOBRARA ENERGY PARK.

THE WORLD'S LARGEST PLANNED MICROGRID.

BECAUSE WHILE THIS MAY SEEM LIKE WE'RE OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE...

YET YOU'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF EVERYWHERE WHEN IT COMES TO THE INFRASTRUCTURE.

...HARRISON'S SQUARE MILE SITS AT THE INTERSECTION OF MAJOR ELECTRIC TRANSMISSION, NATURAL-GAS PIPELINES, AND ONE OF THE LARGEST FIBER-OPTIC HUBS IN THE COUNTRY.

HE WANTS TO POOL THOSE RESOURCES AND COMBINE THEM WITH RENEWABLES ON SITE.

AND THEN CREATE SECURE POWER FOR MISSION-CRITICAL ITEMS LIKE DATA CENTERS FOR MILITARY FACILITIES THAT CAN BE WITHIN THIS SECURE AREA.

HE'S TRYING TO COURT THE BIG GUYS -- THE GOOGLES OR THE APPLES -- TO COME IN AND BUILD.

AND HE HOPES TO CONVINCE THEM HIS MICROGRID COULD BE CHEAPER THAN BUYING THE EXPENSIVE DIESEL GENERATORS DATA CENTERS NORMALLY RELY ON.

HE THINKS THE PROJECT COULD BE WORTH $10 BILLION ONE DAY IF MICROGRIDS REALLY ARE THE FUTURE.

GREENTECH MEDIA RESEARCH SAYS THERE ARE MORE THAN 120 MICROGRIDS IN THE COUNTRY RIGHT NOW.

AND THEY PREDICT THE MARKET FOR MICROGRIDS WILL GROW NEARLY 270% BY 2020.

♪♪

AND THAT WRAPS IT UP FOR THIS TIME.

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