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Getting to the Moon was only half the job

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]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jul 21, 2014 - 54 comments

21st Century Wiener

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]
posted by kliuless on Jul 11, 2014 - 12 comments

Holy moly Soviet cars

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]
posted by goofyfoot on Jul 7, 2014 - 27 comments

"None of this is going to matter"

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]
posted by We had a deal, Kyle on Jul 4, 2014 - 16 comments

Early Days on Street View

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!"
posted by daisyk on Jul 3, 2014 - 20 comments

It doesn't do anything different and yet you are changing it

How to approach refactoring by Venkat Subramaniam (YouTube lecture) [more inside]
posted by flabdablet on Jun 24, 2014 - 17 comments

The Machine

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]
posted by kliuless on Jun 16, 2014 - 66 comments

Dramatic Safety Videos from the US Chemical Safety Board

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]
posted by Small Dollar on Jun 6, 2014 - 18 comments

“What’s been the biggest challenge? Every single thing,” he said.

Twenty-eight years on, the struggle to build a permanent containment building at Chernobyl.
posted by Chrysostom on Apr 29, 2014 - 35 comments

Bigger than a breadboard II

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.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 25, 2014 - 18 comments

Cannons Not Included, Sadly

In the game Full Steam Ahead, you design steamships under the glowering supervision of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
posted by Iridic on Apr 4, 2014 - 33 comments

there is no soundtrack

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)
posted by kliuless on Mar 9, 2014 - 15 comments

ITER

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."
posted by homunculus on Feb 25, 2014 - 52 comments

frugal engineering can boost your space program

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)
posted by infini on Feb 18, 2014 - 44 comments

Debugging the A350-XWB

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]
posted by spitbull on Feb 14, 2014 - 31 comments

i heard you like plotter videos

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.
posted by scruss on Jan 27, 2014 - 19 comments

"a cyber-pessimism that could at times be just as dogmatic"

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]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 13, 2014 - 35 comments

Pterosaur Aerodynamics at GWU

A series of blog posts by George Washington University engineering students on the aerodynamics of pterosaur flight. [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Jan 7, 2014 - 12 comments

if a paragraph does not start with bold and italics feel free to skip it

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.
posted by divabat on Jan 6, 2014 - 21 comments

...and then "some clown invented the printed circuit."

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]
posted by zarq on Dec 24, 2013 - 40 comments

A Better Cardboard Box

Two engineering students attempt to revolutionize the cardboard box
posted by roaring beast on Dec 23, 2013 - 76 comments

Where My Ladies At?

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]
posted by Blasdelb on Dec 6, 2013 - 37 comments

NEETS

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).
posted by Evernix on Nov 24, 2013 - 36 comments

Home again, home again, jiggity-jig. Goooood evening, J. D.!

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]
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Nov 20, 2013 - 12 comments

Why Should Engineers and Scientists Be Worried About Color?

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.
posted by cthuljew on Nov 14, 2013 - 58 comments

littleBits + KORG Synth Kit

"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."
posted by kliuless on Nov 13, 2013 - 47 comments

When is a screw not a screw: An examination of fastener nomenclature.

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.
posted by empath on Oct 24, 2013 - 90 comments

"the laughing stock of the Internet and two music genres"

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.
posted by Rory Marinich on Oct 23, 2013 - 51 comments

Ten movable bridges (plus two bonus items)

Ten movable bridges for you.
posted by shothotbot on Oct 2, 2013 - 49 comments

I can hear you now!!

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]
posted by scblackman on Sep 9, 2013 - 2 comments

Sikorsky Prize Claimed

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.
posted by Betelgeuse on Jul 11, 2013 - 53 comments

ALLL HAIL ROBOKITTY

Swiss Researchers develop a robot that runs like a cat.
posted by The Whelk on Jun 18, 2013 - 54 comments

Ruint

The Accumulation Of Ruin Space
In Between The Ruins On The Edge Of The Salton Sea (Salton Sea, previously)
Inhabiting Construction [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 11, 2013 - 7 comments

The Adjustable Cosmos

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]
posted by homunculus on Jun 8, 2013 - 12 comments

8,681

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."
posted by Erasmouse on May 24, 2013 - 80 comments

“free as air and water”

For the first time in over a century, Cooper Union announces that it will begin to charge undergraduate students tuition.
posted by Whitall Tatum on Apr 23, 2013 - 71 comments

A work of significant scale.

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]
posted by shakespeherian on Apr 17, 2013 - 22 comments

belters expanse trajectory: working up the Epstein Drive

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]
posted by kliuless on Apr 14, 2013 - 34 comments

Tell 'em Big Bertha sent ya!

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
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 2, 2013 - 36 comments

We're Going To Have To Find Out How To Deal With Lots Of Idle Hands

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)
posted by The Whelk on Mar 27, 2013 - 18 comments

Mechanical Wankelry

Animated Engines has been mentioned a couple times before, but I wanted to highlight the site entire, along with its sister site, 507 Mechanical Movements. Both sites have animated diagrams of a huge variety of engines and (relatively) simple machines, the latter based on an 1868 book by Henry T. Brown of the same name. While all of the engines are animated, the animated machines start on page 3, and go on from there. And every diagram leads to a page that explains the machine's function — step-by-step in the case of the engines.
posted by cthuljew on Mar 23, 2013 - 14 comments

30 PRINT "Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres.."

"That got me thinking: Could the Romans have built a digital computer using only the technology and manufacturing processes available to them?"
posted by Chrysostom on Mar 1, 2013 - 79 comments

Architectural Piracy?

How good is Zaha Hadid's new building? So good it's already being copied. And the copy may be finished before the original. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 15, 2013 - 33 comments

Oliver Heaviside

Surely you've heard of the physicist Maxwell, but what about Oliver Heaviside? Oliver Heaviside: A first-rate oddity.
posted by Evernix on Feb 14, 2013 - 14 comments

A material that most liquids won't wet.

"A nanoscale coating that's at least 95 percent air repels the broadest range of liquids of any material in its class, causing them to bounce off the treated surface...". Video of the coating in action.
posted by Evernix on Jan 20, 2013 - 47 comments

Sellwood Bridge

Tomorrow, January 19, you can watch as the Sellwood Bridge in Portland, OR is moved 33-66 feet to the north in order to allow a new bridge to be built in its place, while still allowing traffic to move over that part of the Willamette River while the construction is taking place.
posted by curious nu on Jan 18, 2013 - 30 comments

Teaching Computers to Hear Emotions

New research can detect five different emotions with 81 percent accuracy. [Additional project information].
posted by Evernix on Jan 8, 2013 - 21 comments

Goal Directed Design Process

Alan Cooper and the Goal Directed Design Process The heart of the problem, he concludes, is that the people responsible for developing software products don’t know precisely what constitutes a good product. It follows that they also do not know what processes lead to a good product. In short, they are operating by trial and error, with outcomes like customer satisfaction achieved by little more than blind luck. By Hugh Dubberly, first published AIGA GAIN Journal, 2001
posted by infini on Dec 13, 2012 - 28 comments

Samuel Morey: an American inventor

If you've been along the Connecticut river in eastern Vermont, you may have crossed the Samuel Morey Memorial Bridge, relaxed at Lake Morey, or seen some road markers mentioning Samuel Morey. Besides being the second person in the world to be in a car accident, who was Samuel Morey? [more inside]
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike on Nov 30, 2012 - 8 comments

DJ Focus

DJ Focus couldn't wait to get back to Sierra Leone. AKA Kelvin Doe, this young man makes beautiful, functional and very useful electronic devices out of trash found in his native Sierra Leone. It's not clear whether he or M.I.T. was more impressed after his visit there.
posted by not_that_epiphanius on Nov 22, 2012 - 6 comments

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