Posts Tagged Machine

Engineering Connections in an Invisible World – a Crash Course

For several years I’ve been a big fan of  Top Gear – the guys have been entertaining my inner child. Seen rationally, the petrol-based internal combustion engine is a dead end,  but getting from A to B is hardly the point, or is it? I like the irreverent, playful and fun approach to how things actually work – by taking them apart, blowing them up or whatever else seems suitable – they have an immense imagination in that department. You know, what distinguishes the men from the boys is the size of their toys. In this regard, the top gear presenters are the real grown-ups, thinking big and out of the box. Some of their projects on science and engineering are among my all-time favourites, so I am happy to see Richard “Hamster” Hammond back on the screen again.

First, there’s the recently launched “Crash Course” :  

And then I have to mention his series “Engineering Connections” on the National Geographic Channel where Hammond

looks at how engineers and designers use historic inventions and clues from the natural world in ingenious ways to develop new buildings and machines.

And if you still can take some more, there is some really stunning footage in the “Invisible worlds” –  series (2010). Definitely something to go into my DVD collection, here’s a teaser:

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Biophilia

Biophilia is an extraordinary and innovative multimedia exploration of music, nature and technology by the musician Björk. Comprising a suite of original music and interactive, educational artworks and musical artifacts, Biophilia is released as ten in-app experiences that are accessed as you fly through a three-dimensional galaxy

I still haven’t downloaded and checked out the app myself in detail, the price-tag is a bit hefty for my taste. So far I have never spend over 10 bucks on a single app, and personally find it very hard to digest more than 2 Björk-songs in a row. OK, my ears aren’t bleeding, and in this case my eyes are very much tempted by the visuals. Biophilia contains several subsections (in-apps), so one could argue it’s more than just a single app, comparable to an entire (concept?-)album. On the app-store reviews there’s some criticism of the pricing-policy, however content-wise one reviewer goes as far as claiming that “we will eventually see Biophilia as the Sergeant Peppers of music apps“. A steep claim indeed to liken it to the fab four… but even though the music is not exactly my cup of tea, I am thrilled by the unique combination of contemporary art, science and technology.

As for the scientific content, the spring 2012 issue of the quarterly newsletter published by the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics Protein Data Bank (RCSB-PDB for short) features a snapshot of the video for Björk’s title “hollow”:

To accompany the song “Hollow,” Björk’s meditation on biological ancestry, [Biomedical animator Drew] Berry
created a lush landscape for DNA to replicate (and sparkle) to the music. Molecular
machines work at real-time speed, culminating in the appearance of Björk as a complex
protein structure. Many of the molecular shapes, illustrated with great depth and rich
color, were created with the help of crystal structure data from the PDB.

More of these stunning, educational and award-winning 3D animations by Drew Berry and his colleagues are available on WEHI.TV at the Walter+Elisabeth Hall Institute of Medical Research. Enjoy!

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Weekend Music Video

After 25 years a remake / cover of this great piece was almost overdue, aptly done by Florence and the Machine.

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Cubelets

Complexity in the natural world is fascinating, don’t you think? In the most complex systems, we can look deeper to find a network of interacting elements. Little beings loving and dancing scientific hobscotch(?) using their tiny little brains to make the most wonderful things happen – TOGETHER.

Emergent properties in Complex systems and robotics explained by a hilly-billy guy with a funny (dutch?) accent – just made my day:

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Cats and the Ultimate Machine

This cat-in-a-box (not to be confused with Schrödingers cat) hauling in coins placed onto the fishbone-marked right corner I found on the counter of a fast-food shop in Seoul: 


It so reminded me of Claude Shannon’s ultimate machine:

One of his more humorous devices was a box kept on his desk called the “Ultimate Machine”, based on an idea by Marvin Minsky. Otherwise featureless, the box possessed a single switch on its side. When the switch was flipped, the lid of the box opened and a mechanical hand reached out, flipped off the switch, then retracted back inside the box. Renewed interest in the “Ultimate Machine” has emerged on YouTube and Thingiverse.

A matching (while somewhat more commercial) tribute to the founder of Information Theory
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The Science of Insecurity

From last week’s 28th Chaos Communication Congress (28C3) – an annual four-day conference on technology, society and utopia – there are a couple of really interesting talks. Of course, these are freely available (the logo on the right directs to their youtube-channel, the link in the blockquote takes you to the wiki) under a creative commons (BY-NC-ND) license.

As practised with 26C3 and 27C3 we want you to come together. no nerd left behind: Allow those unable to attend the Congress in Berlin to celebrate their own Hack Center Experience, watch the streams, participate via twitter or chats, drink Tschunk, cook and have a good time.

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Happy (hardware) hacking!

If you thought that for developing your own piece of integrated hard- and software, say a weird 3D input gadget, a table that lights up inside in various ways or other crazy things you’d need a degree in electrical engineering or physics – think again.

Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments.

From my own experience, I can only confirm that Arduino is a great thing to hack yourself into various aspects of your (digital) life – here is a nice documentary I came across on vimeo:

I just finished my first project with it – and I am quite happy it all works!

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