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[4 Aug 2011 | One Comment | 6,295 views]
Actuated Matter Workshop Part 1: Intro

Last week I found myself in Zürich, Switzerland, which in itself is somewhat unusual for a person who typically lives and works in the great state of Texas.  To add to that, while installed in said location I experienced one of those intensive periods of excitement and discovery that only happen when you toss yourself and an over-stuffed rolling suitcase headlong into a foreign country and participate in a workshop in order to learn how to screen print electroluminescent lamps (and also to learn that, although they are healthier, multigrain croissants are simply not as delicious as the …

FIRE, WOOD »

[14 Dec 2010 | One Comment | 7,174 views]
FIX IT! A Self-healing Polymer Material Embedded with a Fiber Optic Network

Stairs are challenging enough for adults at times, but I distinctly remember how hard it was to climb them when I was little.  When you are small in stature, 7″ high risers hit at mid-thigh and most of the time you have to take each stair on all fours.  Many of the epic, all-out “Alli versus the Stairs” battles ended with a small, defiant child celebrating wildly on the second floor, but sometimes things didn’t go my way.  On the days that the straight run, open tread, carpeted monster was …

FIRE, WATER »

[14 Jul 2010 | No Comment | 1,216 views]
Singing Acoustic Fibers can Hear their Environment

Every once in a while in the course of my quest to discover materials with architectural potential, I stumble across something so interesting that I emit an audible yelp akin to the bellow of an excited elephant seal, drop whatever I’m doing, and write a post about it.  Unfortunately this tendency has resulted in the accidental smashing of several objects, including one unfortunate incident where I dropped an ancient and rather valuable Ming vase on an unforgiving tile floor with predictably catastrophic consequences. 
Yesterday I learned that researchers at MIT have developed functional plastic fibers that can detect …

EARTH, FIRE »

[3 Feb 2010 | No Comment | 8,014 views]
Get Lit: Lucem and Litracon

Light-transmitting concrete is kind of endearingly creepy looking – it reminds me of one of those tiny hypoallergenic dogs with no fur except in pale tufts on its oversized head.  I’m jarred by the fact that light can shine through something designed to be massive and essentially made out of rocks.  Glass fibers are embedded in the concrete in parallel, so that light is transmitted from one side of a block of the concrete to the other.  The technology is not brand new;  I saw light-transmitting concrete featured at the National Building Museum some …

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