Good news for the future

Airplanes are a cursed blessing. They make travel over long distances possible in less time than anybody could have imagined 120 years ago.

Airplanes are a cursed blessing. They make travel over long distances possible in less time than anybody could have imagined 120 years ago. A week to take a steamer from New York to Liverpool. Sound like fun?

But the curse comes with all that crud jets spew into Earth's upper atmosphere. Well, some mitigation may be on the way.

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NASA today showed off a test model for a new jet design.

To geek out on lots of X-48B pictures, click here. They've tested a remote-controlled 21-foot wide blended-wing jet in the southern California desert. More tests will be run and a bigger model built. Boeing's involved in this project with an eye toward their own future.

The design promises savings on fuel because the design gives more lift with less drag than current jetliner design. And that's good news because, for most of us, the worst pollution we contribute to the atmosphere originates with aviation. Just check some of the online carbon footprint calculators and you'll see a couple jet flights annually do more potential harm than all the rest of your life.

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