Tech Tuesday 12/19 – Space Fashion Edition

Between travel and being in 3 days of meetings last week, I didn’t get to really mine my sources as much as I like to, so a somewhat abbreviated set this week. I did get to partake of a team building exercise last week where we did an Escape Room. We made it out with, quite literally, 3 seconds to spare. Given that the reported success rate of the room is 3%, we took the win.

Aerospace

AERO1 – About damn time.  I remember what an absolute clusterfish this was getting it all rolling (because the USAF was being a whiny git), and what a clusterfish development was, largely because of hard it is to upgrade technology that feature heavily in the massive regulatory process of commercial airliners.

AERO2 – I’m honestly surprised this hasn’t been done before.  I can only assume that we’ve finally reached a state of the art in electric motors where the necessary torque output is finally high enough and the motor weight low enough to make this feasible.

AERO3 – Everything you’d want to know about Space Suits.  As materials improve, so do space suits.

AERO4 – How low does it go?  (about 350km, it seems).

AERO5 – Aircraft controls through thrust vectoring.  Why not, it’s how it’s done in space (well, that and gyros)?

AERO6SpaceX flies the first mission using a recycled rocket.

Bio/Medical

BIO1 – A Brazilian amphibian may hold the key to reversing liver damage.

BIO2 – The needle free injector evolves.

BIO3 – Nano-particles can find cancer long before traditional imaging can.

BIO4 – Taking a page from the electric eel to power implants.

Energy

ENRG1 – A piezoelectric amino acid that is much cheaper to produce than ceramic piezoelectric materials.

Materials

MAT1 – The ultimate reversible jacket.

MAT2 – A new metallic glass.  A metal glass is metal that is not allowed to form a crystalline structure, so it remains amorphous.  The new process furthers the amorphous nature by further limiting the crystal structure.

MAT3 – Clear frosted glass, just add water.  Or if you want reflective glass to be clear, just add oil of wintergreen.

Physics

PHYS1 – Excitonium sounds like something made up for a Hollywood movie or comic book (Unobtanium, anyone?).  Apparently, it’s a real thing.

Technology

TECH1 – 3D printing wifi sensors that work without batteries.

TECH2 – 3D printing bacteria laden tattoos.  Gotta use bacteria because they can actually survive being printed.

TECH3 – 3D printing in three dimensions.  Using holograms, because holograms are cool.

TECH4 – NVIDIA has a new GPU for scientific simulations.  We’ve long kicked around the idea of using GPUs to run sims, but in the end, the wide range of variation among manufacturers made the problem not worth the effort.  Some GPUs work great with common parallelization libraries and schemas, some don’t.  And there is a lot of variation among floating point operations and math co-processors, such that it is common to get two very different sets of results from two different GPus for the same simulation.  NVIDIA is smart to develop a single GPU/family of GPUs for scientific simulations, it’ll give them the ability to develop the standard others will have to follow if they want into that market.

TECH5 – I wish I had this on my car, might have helped figure out when someone punched a hole in the front fairing (I think someone backed into my car on the street, but I have no idea when it happened).

TECH6 Exosuits have long been a staple of military SciFi, but in reality, they are finding their initial footing in warehouses and factory floors.

Transportation

TRANS1 – Ride-sharing is reducing the reliance on ambulances, and that can be a good thing.

Weird, Wacky, and Wonderful

WWW1 – This is mostly just pictures, rather than discussion about architectural innovation.  I like the Lego house, and I really like the re-purposed grain silos.

WWW2 – Part of me would love it if the future had this kind of style.

WWW3 – As if I needed another reason to hate tailgaters.

Image by the_jetboy


Associate Editor

A Navy Turbine Tech who learned to spin wrenches on old cars, Oscar has since been trained as an Engineer & Software Developer & now writes tools for other engineers. When not in his shop or at work, he can be found spending time with his family, gardening, hiking, kayaking, gaming, or whatever strikes his fancy & fits in the budget. ...more →

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29 thoughts on “Tech Tuesday 12/19 – Space Fashion Edition

  1. ADRO3 – an interesting interview with Nicholas de Monchaux author of Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo. From the interview:

    But then the actual spacesuit—this 21-layered messy assemblage made by a bra company, using hand-stitched couture techniques—is kind of an anti-hero. It’s much more embarrassing, of course—it’s made by people who make women’s underwear—but, then, it’s also much more urbane. It’s a complex, multilayered assemblage that actually recapitulates the messy logic of our own bodies, rather than present us with the singular ideal of a cyborg or the hard, one-piece, military-industrial suits against which the Playtex suit was always competing.

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  2. Tech 3:
    See this is where I weave 3D printing, together with a UBI and liberal IP laws into my Distributionist Social Justice utopia.

    A post-scarcity society of decentralized production, with cottage industry of makers and artisans, freed from the crushing cycle of debt and consumerism, and freed from the need to live in expensive cities.
    Instead of mass production, we would have individualized bespoke production and universal land ownership.

    Hey, its my fantasy- deal with it.

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    • I’m grumpy this morning, but will limit myself to what I think is your biggest hurdle: energy. Neither automation nor 3D printing get around the energy needed to change matter from one form to another, or to move it from place to place. (And 3D printing consumes significantly more energy per item produced than many other methods.) Post-scarcity societies almost by definition postulate free nearly-unlimited high-quality energy.

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      • One of the reasons what Chip envisions is appealing is a lot of companies charge a premium on parts versus the entire assembly. There is a considerable price premium on, say, a piece of plastic fairing for your car when you have to buy the piece as a replacement part, as opposed to what the factory pays per part to mount it on the car at production.

        And, of course, that price premium increases as the car ages and the part becomes scarce. At some point, it would become cheaper/faster to just print the thing at home, than it would to find out who has it and order it, or prowl a boneyard for it, save for the fact that the manufacturer has the 3D file locked up in IP*.

        What I find appealing isn’t being able to make a quickie part for my car, it’s being able to make something unique for my car, or being able to use a printer to make unique things for a one off that I want to build. It’s an artisan kind of ideal, rather than a Federation Replicator.

        *Maybe, I don’t know how diligently manufacturers protect the after market, although secondary makers who paid for the rights probably do.

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        • @michael-cain

          I can’t speak to the energy aspect of this, but I think the convergence of different technologies and political ideas allows for a radical change, similar to how mechanized power coupled with Enlightenment ideas helped bring about the Industrial Revolution, as well as the political concepts embedded in socialism and capitalism.

          Centralized, mass organizations of people made possible by centralized mass production giving rise to massive accumulations of capital made centralized government a logical response;

          When the production of things is decentralized and highly variegated, how would that affect the governmental structure?

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              • For various reasons, down the center of the Great Plains: (1) matches existing state borders better; (2) matches existing East/West Interconnect split in the electric grid much better; and (3) my friend the anthropologist claims (and I agree) that the east/west cultural changes are between the east and west edges of the Plains, not along the Divide.

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                • You know, it’s been a long time since I annoyed folks with cartograms. A cartogram turns out to be useful for illustrating the difference between drawing the dividing line down the center of the Great Plains versus following the Continental Divide. Graphic is here, you’ll probably want to download into a separate window.

                  Start with a map of the 48 contiguous states (plus DC). Overlay a uniform rectangular mesh rather than using county boundaries, since county boundaries are irregular and vary widely in size. That’s the top image. Then distort the map and mesh to equalize population densities [1] — areas with high density expand (the mesh lines are farther apart), those with low densities contract (mesh lines get closer together). The distortion is extreme enough that it can be difficult to recognize specific areas, even with the (distorted) state borders included. With a little practice, though, one can pick out which “bulges” are which major metro areas.

                  The left of the two vertical green lines is roughly the Continental Divide; the right one is roughly the Great Plains center. (In the flat image, these would be arcs rather than straight lines.) In between the lines are three bulging metro areas: Front Range Colorado, Albuquerque/Santa Fe, and El Paso. Deciding which east-west dividing line to use is largely a matter of deciding how to classify those three.

                  Why do I think they are western? Among other things, elevation (all >3500 ft), dry (west of the line where any kind of dryland farming is feasible), African-Americans are not the largest minority group by a substantial margin, they are in areas that lack the small-town-every-few-miles settlement pattern prevalent east of the Great Plains, and at least from time to time you can take some version of a snow and mountain picture in all of them.

                  [1] I used county populations since that information is readily available. There are still issues. Southern California should be bulging more near the coast and less near the Nevada and Arizona borders because average values for the large counties (eg, Riverside and San Bernardino) don’t accurately reflect the concentration of people.

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    • This is the sort of thinking that I wish more people were doing. Just because Market capitalism is the best economic model we have yet created, doesn’t mean that will always be true. New ideas and technologies may at some point call for a new economic paradigm, so it’s good to see people thinking about what it might be.

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      • I keep thinking about how we are trapped in 20th century thinking, where everything revolves around the epic struggle over economic theories.

        Its like how in those few centuries of the Reformation and Counter Reformation, virtually every conflict in Europe had as its underlying theme, Catholic versus Protestant.
        A time traveler dropping into the war for Scottish independence in 1752 who asked whether these rebels were socialist or capitalist, would have been greeted with puzzled looks.

        History never stands still, and I believe that we are witnessing the ending of the Industrial Age, the ending of totalizing economic theories, and its evolution into something else, which I won’t pretend to be able to foresee.

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        • Agreed, I suspect the political conflicts of future centuries will be utterly incomprehensible to us, while ours will look as quaint to them as the disagreements between thevFederalists and the Democratic-Republicans.

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  3. Aero4 – I’m surprised how fast the temperature goes up in that animation of ‘atmospheric’ flight, but it could be that it’s providing a slightly misleading sense of scale.

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    • It is in Kelvin, and it’s going from cold as space to really hot (400+ K). Of course, the pressure should also be displayed, because I’m betting it’s climbing sharply as well (the ‘probe’ is over 200 km deep into the clouds), which makes the temperature rise not so dramatic.

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