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The GE Brief – February 12, 2019

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February 12, 2019


GE Aviation has got an Affinity for supersonic travel — that’s the name of the engine introduced in October that’s found a home in the AS2, a business jet that will fly faster than the speed of sound. This month Boeing announced that it is partnering with Nevada’s Aerion Supersonic to help it develop the jet, which is scheduled to fly for the first time in 2023. The plane will carry up to 12 passengers as fast as 1,000 miles per hour, or Mach 1.4 — 40 percent faster than the speed of sound, 70 percent faster than most of today’s business jets and quick enough to cut a trip over the Pacific Ocean by five hours.

The right stuffing: One of the key components inside the AS2 will be the Affinity, the first civil supersonic engine in more than 50 years. Drawing on decades of GE expertise as well as the latest aviation technologies, the Affinity will be able to operate as high as 60,000 feet and meet stringent noise requirements. “Our mission was to design an efficient, environmentally compliant engine that could provide exceptional and balanced performance across supersonic and subsonic flights,” said GE Aviation’s Brad Mottier. “We believe we have done that.”

In the past 50 years, the cabins of business aircraft have become roomier while the planes’ ranges have increased. Learn more here about how speed is the next frontier.


In the late 1950s, Arnold Spielberg was building computers for GE in Phoenix when he brought his son to work with him one day, hoping to get the kid interested in the family trade. He didn’t quite succeed, though, so he had to settle for the next best thing: Steven Spielberg became one of the most acclaimed film directors of all time. Arnold Spielberg, meanwhile, is still lauded as a pioneer in his field. He developed a machine that computer scientists later used to write BASIC, the programming language that revolutionized personal computing. Spielberg’s many achievements include 12 patents and his own turn in filmmaking: Thirty-some years after his son made “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” Spielberg and some astrophysicist pals consulted on the black hole at the center of Christopher Nolan’s 2014 movie “Interstellar.” Arnold Spielberg, who turned 102 on Feb. 6, talked to GE Reports about his long and remarkable career.

E.T. Phonograph Home: Bill Gates and Steve Jobs may have been the big names in tech toward the end of Spielberg’s career, but he grew up admiring the likes of Nikola Tesla and GE founder Thomas Edison. Edison was born on Feb. 11, 1847, and his birthday is now celebrated as National Inventors’ Day. It’s fitting that this year his birthday came the day after the annual Grammy Awards, held Sunday night in Los Angeles. In 1958, when members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences were wondering what to call their new music industry awards, somebody suggested the Eddies — after the guy who invented the technology that led to the birth of the recording industry: the phonograph.

You talking to me? Whatever people called a “light bulb moment” before the invention of the light bulb, Edison had one in 1877 when he designed the first machine that would be able to record sounds and play them back. He was just 29 years old. After sketching his concept out, Edison asked a worker, John Kruesi, to build it for him. “I told him I was going to record talking and then have the machine talk back. He thought it was absurd,” Edison later recalled. “I then shouted ‘Mary had a little lamb, etc.’ I adjusted the reproducer and the machine reproduced it perfectly. I was never so taken back in my life.”

Consumers were taken aback when Edison installed the nascent technology into talking dolls so inadvertently horrifying that even their inventor called them “little monsters.” When you’re Edison, though, you’re forgiven a couple of lead balloons now and then. Read more here about the development of the phonograph.


1. Cancer Gets A One-Way Ticket
A medical device recently fast-tracked by the FDA acts as a “pied piper” to brain-cancer cells, coaxing them toward the exterior of the brain where they can be removed or killed.

2. A Shot In The Gut
A team led by researchers from MIT has developed an ingestible capsule that can deliver insulin into the bloodstreams of people with diabetes — by injecting it (painlessly!) into the stomach wall.

3. Chimps For Brains
At the University of California, San Francisco, scientists have grown chimpanzee brain organoids — mini-brains — in the lab. They’re helping shed light on the evolutionary processes that led to humans.

Read more about this week’s Coolest Things on Earth here.


“We’ve been focusing on improving efficiency so we can lower the cost of operations and extend the range of the plane so it’s not limited to just barely getting across the Atlantic. Now you’ve got an airplane that will really take you places.”

— Jeff Miller, vice president of marketing at Aerion Supersonic

Quote: GE Reports. Image: GE Aviation.

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