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Articles Archive for June 2010

WOOD »

[28 Jun 2010 | No Comment | 5,177 views]
Converting Public Steps into Comfortable Outdoor Seating: Il Posto by Miramondo

Public steps make me happy.  I’m talking about those large stone or concrete steps that typically line plazas or porches.  They’re great places to sit and read, talk, eat lunch, and watch a parade of people thronging past.  Some of the best public plazas I’ve ever encountered have been located in Italy; I spent hours sketching in one of my favorites, the Piazza dei Signori in Vicenza, one summer during grad school.  The only complaint I have about public steps is that they’re a little rough on the hindquarters if you try to sit in one place for …

EARTH »

[25 Jun 2010 | 2 Comments | 7,604 views]
Carbon Cast Concrete

Carbon fiber is one of those futuristic-sounding, expensive materials that I associate with supersonic airplanes, fancy road race bicycles, and $400,000 dining tables.  So imagine my surprise when I found out that, back in 2003, a group of precast concrete companies banded together with carbon fiber grid provider Chomarat to form AltusGroup, who manufacture a product called Carbon Cast Concrete.  “AltusGroup members use Chomarat’s C-GRID®, as the carbon fiber epoxy based reinforcing in several precast building system products to enhance the strength and reduce the weight of precast concrete” (Drabestott).  Reinforcing humble precast concrete with …

EARTH »

[23 Jun 2010 | 3 Comments | 4,860 views]
Is Graphene Elvis or the Russell Brand of Materials?

Say what you will about Elvis Presley and his rhinestone-studed white jumpsuits, the man definitely made waves in movies and the music world.  Even half a century after his heyday I still catch Blue Hawaii airing on TV and even incurious millenials know Heartbreak Hotel.  In contrast to Elvis, I offer you Russell Brand: a man who appears to live life like a young Bret Michaels, and whose notoriety stems from a certain abrasive yet undeniable charisma.  Will Russell Brand’s … er … brand … stand the test of time?  Is he another Elvis?  I think …

WOOD »

[21 Jun 2010 | One Comment | 5,905 views]
Smile: Plastics from Recycled Bottles, Boots, and Banknotes

If you’re anything like me, you don’t spend much time around children and probably find them slightly unnerving.  I mean, think about how fast they’re growing.  It’s completely freaky.  Just consider this: if you measured a child’s foot when it was one year old and then you measured it again six years later, the second time you measured it, the foot would be a completely different size.

Image courtesy www.geekinspired.com
Feet grow, but shoes don’t.  What this means, of course, is that children go through an enormous quantity of plastic rain boots as their feet get larger.  And …

WATER »

[17 Jun 2010 | 7 Comments | 7,816 views]
DEVap: An Energy-Saving Air Conditioning Design

I like to set my home thermostat at around 80 degrees during the summer when friends and family aren’t around because I can’t stand to be cold.  I’m always freezing at work because the people who make decisions about temperature tend to be ample-waisted males of the suit-wearing persuasion who would rather have their fingernails pulled out one at a time than break a sweat.  I used to have a personal heater at my desk to counteract the effects of the arctic blast aimed roughly at the top of my head, but the heater voided the warranty on our cubicles …

FIRE »

[15 Jun 2010 | 3 Comments | 5,457 views]
Butterfly Wings, Colors, and Solar Cells

While I was in New York a few weeks ago I stopped by the American Museum of Natural History – mostly in order to pay a visit to @NatHistoryWhale – which, in case you’re not familiar, is a 1:1 replica of a blue whale hanging from the ceiling.  As I went to enter the gigantic hall of enormous ocean life I stopped short to examine a back-lit wall bedazzled with a fascinating array of taxidermied creatures including a 7 pound lobster from New Jersey. 

Images courtesy amnh.org and vipnyc.org 
Pinned up along one side of the wall was a row of brilliantly …

WOOD »

[2 Jun 2010 | No Comment | 1,881 views]
PU Gel: It’s Not What It Sounds Like

Materia’s excellent materials newsletter for May just hit my inbox (I’m not in any position to complain about the timing since I’ve been a delinquent blogger since April) and I learned about an intriguing material being produced in Dong Guan, China: PU Gel.  It’s mostly used for sporting goods such as shoes, but it can also be used for bags, power tools and electronics cases, and on clothing.  The manufacturer, Taiwan Kurim Enterprises, was founded in 1987 and has been molding PU gel and printing silicon ever since. The company …

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