There’s a widespread idea that “People who make things are simply different [read: better] than those who don’t.” [...] It’s not, of course, that there’s anything wrong with making (although it’s not all that clear that the world needs more stuff). The problem is the idea that the alternative to making is usually not doing nothing—it’s almost always doing things for and with other people, from the barista to the Facebook community moderator to the social worker to the surgeon. Describing oneself as a maker—regardless of what one actually or mostly does—is a way of accruing to oneself the gendered, capitalist benefits of being a person who makes products. [more inside]
The annual James Dyson Award is open to current and recent design engineering students. The winner this year is James Roberts with his inflatable incubator MOM. The device costs around £250 compared to £30,000 for modern incubators and could prevent up to 75% of fatalities in premature birth cases in the developing world.
You wonder how your car works, you say? Let the wisdom of the ancients guide you. Start with springs and shock absorbers (1938). [more inside]
The Ecce Robot is an attempt to create a robot that not only mimics human movement and form, but also musculature and body construction. There are more videos at the project's site. [more inside]
Barbie Fucks It Up Again “This is great!” I said. “Barbie wants to be a computer engineer! And fifty stickers!” [more inside]
...the implication is clear: If a human being could be engineered to have the positive version of each causal variant, they might exhibit cognitive ability which is roughly 100 standard deviations above average. This corresponds to more than 1,000 IQ points.
Crossing the Double Yellow Line
If you are like most motorists, you take the first opportunity to pass the cyclist safely, regardless of the stripe. After all, the purpose of the solid yellow line is to indicate where it is unsafe to pass, and the purpose of prohibiting drivers from crossing a solid yellow line to pass another driver is to prevent unsafe passing. So if it is safe to pass, then why is the solid yellow line there in the first place?[more inside]
If you live in the Boston area and would like to attend science, technology, math, or engineering lectures, you'll find Fred Hapgood's exhaustive and continually-updated list of Selected Lectures on Science and Engineering in the Boston Area very useful. (Here's his list of sources.) Perhaps you know of a list like this for lectures in your locality or field of preference?
The Voith Schneider propeller is a unique marine propulsion system that uses vertical rotating blades to allow for high maneuverability. If you can't stomach the full promotional video (skip to here to see how it works), watch it in action underwater, or give it a test drive with an interactive VSP simulator.
Who knew structural engineering could be so sweet? Justina Yang is the "paper engineer" behind Fiber Lab, a design studio located in her sunroom. She creates paper art, décor, bracelets, bowties, and lamp shades. In her short videos, she demonstrates how to make your very own dodecahedron; a whimsical carousel that produces beautiful waves and teaches you about wave interference; a mesmerizing interactive kinetic wave sculpture; a string art geometric love story; and a delicious-looking paper croissant.
On July 21th, 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin waited within paper thin walls on the surface of the Moon. Hours ago they had made history by being the first humans to land and walk on its surface. Now the only thing left to do was take off. All that entailed was performing the final test of the Lunar Module: launching from the lunar surface with no on-site support or possibility of fixes if something failed. [more inside]
Norbert Wiener: The Eccentric Genius Whose Time May Have Finally Come (Again) - "The most direct reason for Wiener's fall to relative obscurity was the breakthrough of a young mathematician and engineer named Claude Shannon." [more inside]
Soviet concept vehicles. "GAZ-A-Aero, designed by Alexei Nikitin Osipovich, 1934" is the first in the line-up, but I like the "Cyclops-like ZIS-112 with a single headlamp and an experimental 6005 cc engine, that could run the car with 126 mph (204 kmh) in 1951," and the Moskvitch G2, which once reached the speed of 139 mph and looks like it will bite whatever's in front of it. [more inside]
Landon "Dadhacker" Dyer reminisces about Patching the Newton: "How do you fix bugs in a ROM, if you can’t change the image?"
The patches live in the battery protected low-power RAM of the Newton, and they’re theoretically immortal as long as power holds out. This is why the battery compartment has a wacky mechanical locking system meant to discourage people from simultaneously removing both the main and the backup batteries. It’s a byzantine contraption of sliders and buttons molded in Holy Shit Yellow, and it’s meant to scare people into being cautious.[more inside]
Ian McClatchie, the Ambivalent Engineer, reminisces about his time on the Google Street View project. "At the time I was hired, we had two copies of the first camera set, which I dubbed R1. These had been assembled by bolting five 11 megapixel CCD based book-scanning cameras (shown below) to a plywood board, and bolting that to the roof of a car, much of which was accomplished by Elliot Kroo when he was, if I'm not mistaken, 14 years old (youngest intern ever at Google). Neither R1 worked much, due to problems with the cameras, not Elliot!"
HP scaling memristor and photonic computing: "the device is essentially remembering 1s or 0s depending on which state it is in, multiplying its storage capacity. HP can build these chips with traditional semiconductor equipment and expects to be able to pack unprecedented amounts of memory—enough to store huge databases of pictures, files, and data—into a computer. In theory, that would remove the need for a conventional slow disk/fast memory system. With the Machine's main chips sitting on motherboards right next to the memristors, they can access any needed information almost instantly..." [more inside]
The United States Chemical Safety Board and Hazard Investigation Board, an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that investigates the cause of chemical accidents (About the CSB Video (14 minutes), website) has released a well-made animated video (11 minutes) detailing the root cause of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in conjunction with a two-volume draft report about the disaster. This is just the latest in a series of informative and fascinating safety videos released by the CSB. [more inside]
Twenty-eight years on, the struggle to build a permanent containment building at Chernobyl.
Following on the heels of Phonebloks, a Google/Motorola formed a design group called Project Ara. The Verge recently interviewed Paul Eremenko, the project lead, about progress made towards modularization of mobile phone components, overcoming engineering issues, and the group assigning itself an ambitious timetable to succeed in delivering a sellable product within two years, or disbanding.
In the game Full Steam Ahead, you design steamships under the glowering supervision of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Finite time blowup for an averaged three-dimensional Navier-Stokes equation - "[Terence Tao] has shown that in an alternative abstract universe closely related to the one described by the Navier-Stokes equations, it is possible for a body of fluid to form a sort of computer, which can build a self-replicating fluid robot that, like the Cat in the Hat, keeps transferring its energy to smaller and smaller copies of itself until the fluid 'blows up.' " [1,2,3] (previously)
A Star in a Bottle. "An audacious plan to create a new energy source could save the planet from catastrophe. But time is running out."
Trip to Mars Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank
Just days after the launch of India’s Mangalyaan satellite, NASA sent off its own Mars mission, five years in the making, named Maven. Its cost: $671 million. The budget of India’s Mars mission, by contrast, was just three-quarters of the $100 million that Hollywood spent on last year’s space-based hit, “Gravity.” “The mission is a triumph of low-cost Indian engineering,” said Roddam Narasimha, an aerospace scientist and a professor at Bangalore’s Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research. “By excelling in getting so much out of so little, we are establishing ourselves as the most cost-effective center globewide for a variety of advanced technologies,” said Mr. Narasimha.(NYTSL)
How Airbus is Debugging the A350-XWB. Jeff Wise, writing in Bloomberg Business Week, describes the 18-month testing process for the new Airbus A350-XWB passenger jet. One page version (printer format). And a bonus media offering: a somewhat functional online 3D flight simulator. [more inside]
Mesmerizing: Aston Martin DB9, Space Shuttle, harmonic, Tutankhamun, locomotive, Marilyn(-esque). Slow: Art Plotter, Teapot, big! burny! mighty! Home-made: Rostock, DVD drive, with lasers!, old scanner, Lego, mug, whiteboard. Art Projects: Hektor, Pedro & Sybil, sand plotter, Paul, XY, PolarGraph.
The Columbia Journalism Review interviews Evgeny Morozov: Evgeny vs. the internet
The entire Morozov aesthetic is in this sentence: the venom, the derision, the reverse jujitsu of his opponents’ sanctimony, the bald accusation that all the talk about a new age of human flourishing is nothing but an attempt to vamp the speaker’s consulting business. Tech enthusiasts channel hope. Tech skeptics channel worry. Morozov channels anger, and this can be a very satisfying emotion to anyone unconvinced that everything is getting better. Leon Wieseltier, who has published some of Morozov’s most acid criticism at The New Republic, compares him to the ferocious jazz musician Charles Mingus, who once responded to an interviewer who accused him of “hollerin’ ” by saying, “I feel like hollerin’.” I asked Morozov if he considers his Twitter feed, which spews a constant stream of invective and absurdist satire, to be performative. This was a bit like asking Mingus if he considers jazz performative. “Absolutely,” he said. “I consider it art.”[more inside]
A series of blog posts by George Washington University engineering students on the aerodynamics of pterosaur flight. [more inside]
Indian tech entrepreneur and engineer Navin Kabra was dubious when the B.E. students he was advising told him that publishing papers at conferences were a requirement for graduation - a requirement shared by M.E. and M. Tech students in India. When an 'international engineering conference' came to Pune, he submitted two fake papers - one generated using SCIgen and one interspersed with random references to pop culture. Both were accepted - and one was published after Navin paid for the publishing fees (haggled to a 50% discount). Since the expose, the University of Pune has clarified that publishing for Masters students is recommended but not mandatory, more conference fraud has been uncovered, and Navin's still investigating publishing requirements for Bachelors students.
During the 1950's, Wernher von Braun served as technical adviser for three space-related television films produced by Disney: Man in Space, Man and the Moon and Mars and Beyond. [more inside]
Recently Emily Graslie, of the fantastic natural history tumblr and youtube series TheBrainScoop, was asked a question about whether she had personally experienced sexism in her field. Her response is fucking amazing.
Inside is her goldmine of awesome female science educators online with channels that focus on Science Technology Engineering and Math. My work day is fucked.[more inside]
For anyone interested in various fundamentals of electrical engineering without too much detail on the gritty math (and more focus on the concepts), check out the US Navy Electricity and Electronics Training Series (NEETS).
Their hearts are not hearts, but clockwork springs. Their lungs are not lungs, but leather bellows. They are: Jack Donovan's Princely Toys [more inside]
At the core of good science and engineering is the careful and respectful treatment of data. We calibrate our instruments, scrutinize the algorithms we use to process the data, and study the behavior of the models we use to interpret the data or simulate the phenomena we may be observing. Surprisingly, this careful treatment of data often breaks down when we visualize our data.
"The Synth Kit that just hit the market originated a year ago, at a TED conference where Bdeir and comedian/musician Reggie Watts met backstage after giving talks, and started discussing the idea of littleBits musical instruments."
The difference between a bolt and a screw is a controversial topic. Confusingly, even some screws can also be bolts. Thankfully, the department of homeland security is on the case. The DHS notes, perhaps predictably, that "international standards are not necessarily applicable" to the US. In conclusion, fasteners are a land of contrasts.
Engineer turns hardcore band into EDM nightmare after they fail to pay. [T]he engineer, known only as Dan, funnelled the “best 30 mins I’ve ever spent” into reworking the material and uploading the final product. What was surely meant to be a hard-hitting, passionate composition of brutal metalcore integrity is now a cringeworthy dance track.
Ten movable bridges for you.
The 2013 Lasker Awards were announced today. Often called the "American's Nobels", they recognize the contributions of scientists, physicians, and public servants who have made major advances in the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure, and prevention of human disease. Included in today's crop of recipients are Dr. Graeme M. Clark, Dr. Ingeborg Hochmair, and Blake S. Wilson who were awarded their prizes for developing the modern cochlear implant. [more inside]
Originally set forth in 1980, the Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition is deceptively simple: keep a human-powered helicopter aloft at 3 meters within a 10m by 10m square for 1 minute. The prize? $250,000. In the past 33 years, great progress has been made (Davinci III, Yuri I, Gamera I, Gamera II Previously), but no one has succeeded until Aerovelo's Atlas.
The Accumulation Of Ruin Space
In Between The Ruins On The Edge Of The Salton Sea (Salton Sea, previously)
Inhabiting Construction [more inside]
In Between The Ruins On The Edge Of The Salton Sea (Salton Sea, previously)
Inhabiting Construction [more inside]
The Adjustable Cosmos. "In the fifteenth century, three worthies come together to tackle the Emperor's disastrous horoscope. They lift themselves to space in their medieval vessel, braving the terrors and wonders of the of the Ptolemaic universe, to reach for the stars..." [Via]
Railroad bridge domino collapse in Lampasas County, Texas. (SLYT) No reported injuries, and the bridge dates from 1910, according to the AP. The Infrastructure Report Card, released this week (in which America received a D-), may need a small update to "8,680 of the 52,260 bridges in Texas (16.6%) are considered functionally obsolete."
For the first time in over a century, Cooper Union announces that it will begin to charge undergraduate students tuition.
Ladies and gentlemen, for your pleasure please behold Leviathan [click image to advance to next image], a work by Anish Kapoor at the Grand Palais in Paris. Contemporary Art Blog link here. [more inside]
How NASA brought the monstrous F-1 "moon rocket" engine back to life - "The story of young engineers who resurrected an engine nearly twice their age." [more inside]
Meet Bertha, the world's largest underground tunnel boring machine that will soon begin digging a controversial roadway underneath downtown Seattle, similar to Boston's Big Dig
The Forces Of The Next 30 Years - SF author and Mefi's Own Charles Stross talks to students at Olin College about sci-fi, fiction, speculation, the limits of computation, thermodynamics, Moore's Law, the history of travel, employment, automation, free trade, demographics, the developing world, privacy, and climate change in trying to answer the question What Does The World Of 2043 Look Like? (Youtube 56:43)