Category Archives: Technology
An important milestone was reached today. Roughly half of the human race has a cellphone account. It’s actually somewhat less, since many countries average more than one mobile phone per person, over 3.3 BILLION mobile phone accounts across the globe….but still. Wow. Now to outfit them all with live TV!
Read more here.
Explanation: The developing International Space Station (ISS) has changed its appearance again. During the past week, the Space Shuttle Atlantis visited the ISS and added pieces of the Integrated Truss Structure that mirrored those added in September 2006, including a second impressively long array of solar panels. The entire array of expansive solar panels are visible at the edges of the above image taken by the Shuttle Atlantis Crew after leaving the ISS to return to Earth. The world’s foremost space outpost can be seen developing over the past several years by comparing the above image to past images. Also visible above are many different types of modules, a robotic arm, another impressive set of solar panels, and a supply ship. Construction began on the ISS in 1998.
Matthias Wandel has developed a fantastic mechanical binary adding machine using a simple series of cascaded chutes to store numbers and perform carries through mechanical toggles. Don’t miss the video embedded below to see it in operations.
More details can be found on his web site: www.Woodgears.ca along with all manner of interesting contraptions.
I strongly recommend the Faire to any family that can make it to the San Francisco Bay Area this weekend, not just the nerds among you. There really is something for everyone. Even my one-and-a-half-year-old daughter was enthralled last time around, so don’t miss it!
Click on the picture link above for more info and tickets!
The basic concept is to design and build a new generation of personal aircraft using the latest software design and simulation tool, aerodynamics, composite materials, and jet engine technologies. When aggregated into one cohesive design demonstrating unprecedented efficiencies, the initial results promise a tiny craft whose entire body provides lift rather just relying on the wings. The svelte profile of the composite material lifting body introduces less drag with modest wings, and requires less thrust to power. It requires so much less thrust that a tiny engine powered by a hydrogen fuel cell drove the first 1-meter model craft at full speed for 15 minutes.
There are so many interesting aspects to this design project that I almost don’t know where to start. Thankfully, their web site nicely documents the project’s evolution from initial concept, to computer modeling and optimization, to wind-tunnel tests and model flights. Truly amazing start-to-finish. Here is a short photo summary of the amazing project to-date.
This is a rendering of the simulated air flow around the CAD model which shows the vortex-lift generated by the novel lifting body shape that makes the craft so efficient.
This is an image of the numerically-controlled milling machine carving the mold for the single-piece carbon-composite body.
An image of the completed top-panel mold.
The completed 1 meter scale model.
A Trade-show booth highlighting the completed model and the simple hydrogen fuel cell powered jet engine.
The engineers installing the model in the big wind tunnel for stability and control testing and design optimization.
Making the last pre-test connections.
The post-test flow patterns painted on the model by the test fluids.
And see the model in flight in this short promo video.
This project is a complete tour-de-force of modern design, and demonstrates what it takes to change an industry: several years of monomaniacal focus in a small elite team. I believe these folks are really going to succeed in changing the industry where multi-billion dollar multinational aerospace conglomerates have been stalled for decades. It is really the silicon valley start-up model applied to aerospace, much like Tesla is changing the automotive world.
And oh yes, I definitely want one. I’d even take a MODEL of one.
Check out “How Things Work” by Neil Ardley. You can purchase it here from Amazon.
The demo projects are by-and-large rather simple and short, but do a great job demonstrating fundamental principles and techniques. They then become the perfect platform to ask, “so how would you make your widget ______ [Stronger, Faster, Lighter, etc…]?” Then you just give ’em a bucket of parts and watch them go.
The cover touts a target demographic of ages 8-14 but I already have my 4 1/2 year-old daughter working on a couple of projects. Takes after her ‘ol Dad she does!
Every school (and parent) should have one! Go forth and engineer!
You can watch an online broadcast of the panel here, if you first download and install the free RealPlayer from here.
Here is the list of speakers:
- Catherine Drennan, Associate Professor, Chemistry – Chemistry and Beyond
- Woodie Flowers ME ’73, Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering – FIRST Competition
- Mitch Resnick EE ’88, LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research, MIT Media Lab – Lifelong Kindergarten Research Group
- Isaac Colbert HM, Dean for Graduate Students – Introductory Remarks
- Dedric Carter ’99, Executive Director, Office of Engineering Outreach Programs – Moderator
“Very impressed by all of the speakers. I am a physics teacher so it energized me to hear great ideas and wonderful stories.” Kelly Forest CE ’92
“Great speakers, very timely topic in both my personal life and the world at large.” Megan Brewster, PhD student
“Very significant and important topic. Personally interested for both my own children and our nation. Very creative programs have shown practical tools/links to find more info-Thanks!” Scott Brazina GM ’89
Here are some links to a few of the individual web sites chronicling their respective missions.
Go forth, crusaders, and banish the ignorance!