WAYS CELLPHONE SIGNALS COULD BE USED: Cell phones are everywhere, so scientists want to use them as tracking devices. Several state transportation agencies, including those in Maryland and Virginia, are testing technology that allows them to monitor traffic patterns by tracking cell phone signals and comparing them to road grids. These new systems can monitor hundreds of thousands of cell phones at once -- not private cell phone conversations, just the radio signals emitted by the devices. The phones only need to be turned on, not necessarily in use. Advanced software now makes it possible to tell whether a signal is coming from a moving car or a pedestrian, for example.
THEORY OF WAITING IN LINE: The mathematical study of waiting in lines is called Queueing Theory. It's handy in more places than just at airport security and the grocery store. Operations researchers use it to estimate the wait time for a wide variety of situations, as well as investigating new possibilities to reduce hold ups. It's used in call centers, telecommunications, computer networks, health care, and much more.
The American Society of Civil Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.-USA, contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.