Tiffany Quon, a third-year engineering student at the University of British Columbia, has used a hydrophobic spray to create a public art installation on the UBC campus that only appears when it rains. (UBC is in Vancouver, one of the rainiest cities in Canada.) Quon also designed the images and hand-lettering in the piece, which was part of Thrive Week, promoting mental health for the UBC community. [more inside]
Scientists Can Now Repaint Butterfly Wings - "Thanks to CRISPR, scientists are studying animal evolution in ways that were previously thought to be impossible." [more inside]
A dam fusegate is a non-mechanical method for automatically triggering water release when a reservoir fills to capacity. Basically a very large pivoting metal or concrete bucket that is tripped by inlet flow at high water, it’s like an electrical fuse, only for water, and can be bigger. Much, much, bigger, as the can be seen at the Terminus Dam Spillway of Lake Kahweah in California. [more inside]
In a rental suite in Altadena, CA, a small team of engineers work to keep Voyager 1 and 2 flying, just as they have for the past few decades.
On July 17, 1981 a suspended walkway collapsed in The Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, killing 114 people and injuring 216 others during a tea dance. At the time, it was the deadliest structural collapse in U.S. history. [more inside]
In a new paper, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have studied the way ants use their bodies to construct towers when they run into a tall obstruction while looking for food or escaping to new areas. They suggest that the ants build these structures without a leader or coordinated effort. The paper's authors built on previous research that shows how simple behavioural rules can lead to the creation of a resilient structure. Kind of like Castells, but for fire ants. If you prefer your fire ants in a different configuration, they also make rafts.
Over the years, the heat from the trains soaked into the clay to the point where it can no longer absorb any more heat. Tunnels that were a mere 14 degrees Celsius in the 1900s can now have air temperatures as high as 30 degrees Celsius on parts of the tube network.As it's a nice, balmy 31 degrees in London at the moment, have a refreshing article about cooling off the Underground.
Sonam Wangchuk is an engineer who has come up with an innovative way to provide fresh water to villages in Ladakh, one of the high-altitude deserts in the world located in the Himalayas. Wangchuk sources water from streams and uses it to create artificial glaciers, which store fresh water until it's needed in springtime. [Mashable Video]
Every year, I’m blown away by the intricate gowns at the Met Gala. I’m impressed not just by the creativity, but by how much math, physics, and engineering is lurking beneath the layers of silk and lace. [more inside]
Sarah Jeong in GQ: "We all know what it’s like to receive mass-mailed spam. But most people aren’t going to attract enough attention to merit being spearphished. What’s that like, anyway? And how is it different from regular phishing? To search for those answers, I went out and found someone to spearphish me. "
Soft Power, National Branding, and the Process of Engineering Attraction (Part 1: Power in International Relations) [Chromatic Aberration Everywhere] “I'’ve been thinking a lot about this type of thing — soft power, how it affects us, how it’s discussed, and what it actually is. And, after a lot of thinking, much discussion (including some with Froggykun!), and lots of writing, I think I’ve finally come up with some answers. Surprisingly, many of them lead back to Outbreak Company — it turns out the scenario the show constructs actually is quite clever on a wide variety of fronts, and could easily be seen as the exact type of critique soft power needs right now (both in content and in form — what better way to criticize the valorizing of otaku culture than as a LN filled to the brim with otaku culture?!) or its exact opposite.” [more inside]
Retired Microsoftie and video game nerd Ed Fries [previously] tells the tale of how he and former Atari engineers Ron Milner and Michael Albaugh chased down a forgotten Easter Egg in Atari arcade game Starship 1, programmed by Ron and released in 1977, making it a contender for the title of the oldest known video game Easter Egg.
From Colossal: "A rolling stone gathers no moss as they say, but this collection of stones manipulated by electromechanical devices are capable of performing George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” thanks to artist Neil Mendoza. Titled Rock Band, this kinetic sound art installation is actually four different instruments including a xylophone, a buzzing base, two spinners, and a pair of slappers."
Inside the insectary - "These gene drives, they're able to copy themselves. So instead of half of the offspring inheriting the gene drive, almost all of them do. So what happens is that it spreads and it spreads and it spreads. And this is the fantastic thing. Because it allows that gene to be selfish in a population. And in a very short amount of time you can actually transform an entire wild population into a modified population. It's powerful." (previously: 1,2,3)
China has launched a high-tech revolution: Beijing has devised an industrial masterplan named "Made in China 2025" and is investing billions to turn China into one of the leading industrial countries by 2049. As the latest MERICS Paper on China shows, China's ambitious strategy is starting to bear fruit. Industrial countries like Germany and the United States have to be prepared for strong competition.
Clickspring Chris, mentioned several times previously on Metafilter (1 2 3), has posted his last clock build video. The final results are stunning. [more inside]
Making the Geologic Now is an online book in the form of a Zuihitsu, in which short chapters that are part science, part interview, part engineering, part art, part culture, and part whimsy mingle with each other to reflect upon the Anthropocene. It can be browsed on the web, downloaded for a price you choose (including free), or bought as a hardcopy.
Ars Technica: "Humans began making paint and glue at roughly the same time with the same tools. Evidence from a cave in eastern Ethiopia has revealed something extraordinary about the origins of symbolic thought among humans." [more inside]
111 Games, toys, books, and apps for future engineers, reviewed by current engineers. This year's guide includes notes on diversity and teamwork. [more inside]
Together we investigate the possibility of a minimal bicycle that does not require multiple feet nor the reversal of gravity. I have some reservations about the performance, but none about the aesthetics. [SLYT]
Nanowire Mesh Monitors Mouse Brains - "Injectable 'neural lace'* brain-computer interface works in mice for months at a time." (via) [more inside]
Engineers Create The First Dust-Sized Wireless Sensors That Can Be Implanted Into The Human Body. Relevant paper here.
At 600 cubic centimeters and 26 horsepower an internal combustion engine under development by Roush Fenway Racing is among their smallest and least powerful. It also will be the first internal combustion engine to go into outer space.
The Liebherr LTM 11200-9.1 is the most powerful mobile crane in the world. Here is a 1:16 scale radio-controlled scale model, with 21 motors, weighing 25 kg - built entirely from Lego.
In a world where electric lightbulbs were still uncommon, Victorian engineers were building steam engines of breathtaking size and power. Two that are still operational today are the beam engine at the Papplewick Pumping Station (beautiful pictures), and the River Don Engine (video) (recreated in Meccano).
they moved the lighthouse. The Gay Head lighthouse dates to 1796, has been the scene of horrific wrecks, and is in the major motion picture Jaws.
In the late ’70s and ’80s, the arrival of personal computers like the Commodore 64 gave rise to the first generation of kids fluent in computation. They learned to program in Basic, to write software that they swapped excitedly with their peers. It was a playful renaissance that eerily parallels the embrace of Minecraft by today’s youth - Inside the Minecraft Generation.
Why do so many terrorists have an engineering background? Is there something about the way engineering students are taught to think? Or are people who prefer clearly solvable problems drawn to engineering? Scholars in a variety of disciplines are trying to understand what makes people turn to terrorism. An anthropologist argues that universities and governments make it difficult to study the socio-cultural backgrounds of terrorists because of human subjects research policies. Nevertheless, since 9/11 a growing number of social scientists are addressing the issue. These are just a few examples.
‘is a free-content not-for-profit project dedicated to publishing the history of industry in the UK and elsewhere. Its aim is to provide a brief history of the companies, products and people who were instrumental in industry, commencing with the birth of the Industrial Revolution and continuing up to recent times.’ It ‘contains 115,164 pages of information and 163,140 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.’ Browse by Archived Publications, Biographies (‘over 35,000 pages of biographical notes on individuals’), Industries, Locations or Timelines. There is also a blog.
"For over a decade, architecture students at Rural Studio, Auburn University's design-build program in a tiny town in West Alabama, have worked on a nearly impossible problem. How do you design a home that someone living below the poverty line can afford, but that anyone would want—while also providing a living wage for the local construction team that builds it?" Now Rural Studio has a prototype it's trying to bring to market, and it's hitting its biggest challenge yet: how to fit its small, efficient, inexpensive houses into an infrastructure that has no place for them.
Yummiest font ever. Olin College of Engineering students make a machine that "prints" pancakes.
Sci-Fi Author (and Metafilter's own) Charlie Stross has an interesting thought experiment: Could you get to a technological society without the use of writing? And if so, what would that look like?
Movies often portray suspension bridges being destroyed (for example) but often make basic mistakes that reveal a lack of understanding of how these structures work. This article by structural engineer Alex Weinberg, P.E. aims to fix this.
Humans 2.0 - "With CRISPR, scientists can change, delete, and replace genes in any animal, including us. Working mostly with mice, researchers have already deployed the tool to correct the genetic errors responsible for sickle-cell anemia, muscular dystrophy, and the fundamental defect associated with cystic fibrosis. One group has replaced a mutation that causes cataracts; another has destroyed receptors that H.I.V. uses to infiltrate our immune system." [more inside]
Male engineering student Jared Mauldin, a senior at Eastern Washington University, wrote a letter to the editor of The Easterner expounding on the differences between him and the women entering his program. [more inside]
How difficult would it be to take apart this airplane and use it to manufacture this airplane?
Sara Hendren talks at the Eyeo Festival about how she, as an artist, came to work at an engineering college. Hendren teaches at Olin College in Needham, MA and runs the site Abler, a site about "art, adaptive technologies and prosthetics, the future of human bodies in the built environment, and related ideas." Hendren's talk name-checks the artist Claire Pentecost, who has elaborated idea of the artist as "public amateur": the learner who is motivated by love or by personal attachment, and in this case, who consents to learn in public so that the very conditions of knowledge production can be interrogated. [via Text Patterns]
Engineering Geology of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) System, 1964-75 (J. David Rogers & Ralph B. Peck, published 2000) chronicles the construction of the subterranean components of BART.
"Erik, photojournalist, and I have come here to try and get the measure of this place. Nevada is the uncanny locus of disparate monuments all concerned with charting deep time, leaving messages for future generations of human beings to puzzle over the meaning of: a star map, a nuclear waste repository and a clock able to keep time for 10,000 years—all of them within a few hours drive of Las Vegas through the harsh desert." -- Built For Eternity, Elmo Keep on structures designed to potentially outlast human civilization. (Motherboard)
Hacking the digital and social system: Voja Antoni? on being a microcomputer enthusiast in Yugoslavia (via Hack A Day)
The Last True Know-It-All reviews Andrew Smith's biography of Thomas Young - "The Last Man Who Knew Everything (including hieroglyphs). Was Young The Smartest Person Ever? [more inside]
The Role of Writers in a STEM Obsessed Society
“As writers, it’s easy to think of how we matter to literature classrooms, but what the appointment of writers-in-residence in hospitals, history classrooms, foreign language learning spaces, and cooking schools reminds us is that we are relevant wherever there is humanity—which is to say, wherever humans are with their stories. Writing is healing. Writing is art. Writing is learning. As such, writing across the disciplines matters. Many models of artist residencies depend upon the retreat model, wherein the artist sequesters herself away with a small community of other artists. While these models have value, especially when considering how solitude relates to the creative process, it’s heartening to me to see more models catch on that value the place of the writer in society, rather than hidden away from it.”
The Singular Mind of Terry Tao - "Imagine, he said, that someone awfully clever could construct a machine out of pure water. It would be built not of rods and gears but from a pattern of interacting currents." (via) [more inside]