electrical engineering

Science Art: Five of Spades, from Playing Cards: Engineering


This is one of a whole deck of… well, they’re practically a technological tarot, really. They’re playing cards illustrating concepts in engineering. (The two of diamonds is also beautiful, though some might prefer the human figures in cards like the seven of clubs.)

They were originally collected by William Barclay Parsons, the chief engineer of the New York City subway. He was on the library board from 1911 to 1932, when he died. More importantly, he also donated a set of mechanics pla…

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Science Art: Red White Blood Cells, by NCI-Frederick.


The one carries oxygen around, the other keeps the system clean. They’re teeny tiny.

Image from the Electron Microscopy Facility at The National Cancer Institute at Frederick (NCI-Frederick).

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SONG: Levitating Diamonds (Tiny Impossible Things)

SONG: “Levitating Diamonds (Tiny Impossible Things)”.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE:Based on “Lasers used to levitate glowing nanodiamonds in a vacuum”, Science Daily, 7 Sep 2015, as used in the post “A laser levitating glowing nanodiamonds in a vacuum..”

ABSTRACT: I really wanted to use “A laser levitating nanodiamonds in a vacuum” as a lyric, because it’s got such a great rhythm, but no, it didn’t happen.

Musically, things fell together well – I came up with chords on a guitar, and t…

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SONG: One (is the Loneliest Number) (penitential cover)

SONG: “One (Is The Loneliest Number)”.

ARTIST: grant, featuring Sebastian Balfour. (Originally by Harry Nilsson.)

SOURCE: It doesn’t have a research source. It’s a penitential cover of a haunting song by Harry Nilsson that Three Dog Night turned into a prog anthem, which Aimee Mann turned into stunning reclamation project. Nilsson still wins.

ABSTRACT: I’ve been a penitential cover* behind for months and months. I first had the idea of doing this song in something like this way …

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Science Art: To Scale: The Solar System by Wylie Overstreet.

To Scale: The Solar System from Wylie Overstreet on Vimeo.

I like the desert in Nevada already because of the sense of perspective – such wide, flat spaces (wider and flatter even than Florida’s water-level wet prairies), sometimes flanked by mountains just big enough to provide a frame of reference. This is how small you are. This is how far you have to go.

That’s the ideal landscape for this kind of project. How big are we really? How far away is the place next door?

This far away. …

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Science Art: Aequorea Forbesiana by Philip Henry Gosse.

Click to embiggen

This is a jellyfish drawn by Philip Henry Gosse, a naturalist and Creationist (!) who gave us the word “aquarium” as a place to see marine creatures. Before Gosse, an aquarium was a place to water cattle.

He built the very first public one as the “Fish House” of the London Zoo in 1853.

A few years later, he published a book trying to prove that fossils couldn’t disprove Genesis because of course the act of creation would make things appear to be older than they are. …

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We’ve got a battery for your home. Made from organic dye and food additives.

25 September 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Daily looks closely at an affordable, efficient, non-toxic battery that runs your home smoothly from intermittent power sources: The mismatch between the availability of intermittent wind or sunshine and the variability of demand is a great obstacle to getting a large fraction of our electricity from renewable sources. This problem could be solved by a cost-effective means of storing large amounts of electrical energy for delivery over the long periods when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. In the operation of the battery, electrons are picked up and released by compounds composed of inexpensive, earth-abundant elements (carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, iron and potassium) dissolved in water. The compounds are non-toxic, non-flammable, and widely available, making them safer and cheaper than other battery systems. “This is chemistry I’d be happy to put in my basement,” says Michael J. Aziz, Gene and Tracy Sykes Professor of Materials and Energy Technologies at Harvard Paulson […]

Tapping the power of DNA electronics: recharge the battery by touching it.

14 August 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Daily introduces a new way to recharge your battery – take this flexible, biodegradable device and power it up by touching it: Many people may not realize it, but the movements we often take for granted — such as walking and tapping on our keyboards — release energy that largely dissipates, unused. Several years ago, scientists figured out how to capture some of that energy and convert it into electricity so we might one day use it to power our mobile gadgetry. … The researchers built a nanogenerator using a flexible, biocompatible polymer film made out of polyvinylidene fluoride, or PVDF. To improve the material’s energy-harvesting ability, they added DNA, which has good electrical properties and is biocompatible and biodegradable. Their device was powered with gentle tapping, and it lit up 22 to 55 light-emitting diodes. — Video at the link. (Kind of unintentionally funny – it’s more “spanking” than “tapping” at this point. […]

Using tDCS – mild electric jolts to stimulate your brain – actually hurts your IQ score.

6 May 2015 // 0 Comments

Science Daily reports on University of North Carolina research that shows transcranial stimulation, the fascinating new tech that uses mild DC current to “switch on” parts of your brain, might really be lowering people’s intelligence: Published in the journal Behavioural Brain Research, the study adds to the increasing amount of literature showing that transcranial direct current stimulation — tDCS — has mixed results when it comes to cognitive enhancement. “It would be wonderful if we could use tDCS to enhance cognition because then we could potentially use it to treat cognitive impairment in psychiatric illnesses,” said Flavio Frohlich, PhD, study senior author and assistant professor of psychiatry, cell biology and physiology, biomedical engineering, and neurology. “So, this study is bad news. Yet, the finding makes sense. It means that some of the most sophisticated things the brain can do, in terms of cognition, can’t necessarily be altered with just a constant electric current.” Frohlich, though, […]

The ethics of altering your children’s brains.

7 April 2015 // 0 Comments

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience is asking the tough questions about what… and when… we should be doing to kids’ brains with electromagnetism: As the intervention moves away from being a treatment toward being an enhancement—and thus toward a more uncertain weighing of the benefits, risks, and costs—considerations of the child’s best interests (as judged by the parents) diminish, and the need to protect the child’s (future) autonomy looms larger. NIBS [(Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation)] for enhancement involving trade-offs should therefore be delayed, if possible, until the child reaches a state of maturity and can make an informed, personal decision. NIBS for treatment, by contrast, is permissible insofar as it can be shown to be at least as safe and effective as currently approved treatments, which are themselves justified on a best interests standard. … To frame our discussion, we draw a distinction between the use of NIBS… as a form of treatment for a recognized neurological […]

Deutsche Bank says solar has already won.

9 March 2015 // 0 Comments

RenewEconomy follows the money in alternative energy, and focuses on a Deutsche Bank report that finds ever-cheaper batteries will make existing solar power tech way more workable: But by 2030, the solar market will increase 10-fold, as more than 100 million customers are added, and solar’s share of the electricity market jumps to 10 per cent. By 2050, it suggests, solar’s share will be 30 per cent of the market, and developing markets will see the greatest growth. “Over the next 5-10 years, we expect new business models to generate a significant amount of economic and shareholder value,” the analysts write in the report. Within three years, the economics of solar will take over from policy drivers (subsidies). Their predictions are underpinned by several observations. The first is that solar is at grid parity in more than half of all countries, and within two years will be at parity in around 80 per cent of […]

Clear solar panels could turn windows (and smart phones) into power plants.

7 October 2014 // 0 Comments

International Business Times reveals the bright future (from an economic standpoint, at least) of the nascent companies making clear solar panels: The “transparent luminescent solar concentrator” module joins a handful of other fledgling see-through solar products that scientists hope one day to bring to market. The idea is to use existing surfaces to generate power, rather than install large arrays of panels on the ground or on rooftops. “It opens a lot of area to deploy solar energy in a non-intrusive way,” Richard Lunt of Michigan State’s College of Engineering said in a statement this week. “It can be used on tall buildings with lots of windows or any kind of mobile device that demand high aesthetic quality, like a phone or e-reader.” Lunt said his ultimate aim is to make a device so transparent that consumers don’t even know it’s there. The module, which now looks like a clear glass drink coaster, uses small […]

Teenager’s bright idea: flashlight fueled by body heat.

1 October 2014 // 0 Comments

The Gajitz blog has the scoop on the kid who invented a battery-free flashlight that runs on body heat: Ann Makosinski, a 15 year old student from Canada, made a flashlight for her science fair project – a flashlight powered entirely by the body heat of the hand holding it. To be fair to the rest of us, though, this wasn’t any old science fair; this was the Google Science Fair, a global competition that brings out the best and brightest in the 13 to 18 age range. … Makosinski used Peltier tiles to create the flashlight. These tiles produce electricity when they are heated on one side and cooled on the other. A temperature difference of just five degrees is enough to power the LED bulb on the Hollow Flashlight. … The average amount of electricity generated by palm heat was about 57 milliwatts in tests, and only about half a milliwatt is required […]

Printing solar cells.

12 September 2014 // 0 Comments

Outside has a hopeful, intriguing report on an Australian company that’s figured out how to print electricity-generating solar cells on plastic… or whatever: The Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) has developed a way to print solar cells directly onto plastic or other materials. VICOSC is composed of scientists from Australia’s national science agency—the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO)—and researchers at the University of Melbourne and Monash University. The group has been developing the method since 2007. Most solar panels today are made out of silicon, but in this case, the ink itself captures sunlight and converts it into electricity. This would give manufacturers the ability to integrate solar cells onto things like smartphone, tablet, and laptop cases. Want to see how it’s done? Here:

Magnets zap memories into brains.

1 September 2014 // 0 Comments

ScienceDaily has more on a Northwestern University experiment using transcranial magnetic stimulation to improve memory: The discovery opens a new field of possibilities for treating memory impairments caused by conditions such as stroke, early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, cardiac arrest and the memory problems that occur in healthy aging. “We show for the first time that you can specifically change memory functions of the brain in adults without surgery or drugs, which have not proven effective,” said senior author Joel Voss, assistant professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. … The study also is the first to demonstrate that remembering events requires a collection of many brain regions to work in concert with a key memory structure called the hippocampus — similar to a symphony orchestra. The electrical stimulation is like giving the brain regions a more talented conductor so they play in closer synchrony. … It isn’t possible […]

A vision machine (as in, it gives you visions).

17 April 2014 // 0 Comments

Science magazine turns on yet another way electromagnetism can alter the way we think and remember – by switching on vivid visual hallucinations: A 22-year-old male was receiving deep brain stimulation to isolate where his daily seizures originated. His disorder appeared after he caught West Nile virus at the age of 10 and subsequently suffered from brain inflammation. His episodes were always preceded by intense déjà vu, suggesting a visual component of his disease, but he had no history of hallucinations. Brain scans revealed a shrunken spot near his hippocampus—the brain’s memory center. Studies had shown that this region—known as the parahippocampal place area (PPA)—was involved with recognizing of scenes and places. … To assess if the PPA was ground zero for seizures, the doctors used a routine procedure that involves shooting soft jolts of electricity into the region and seeing if the patient senses an oncoming seizure. Rather than have déjà vu, the patient’s […]

Take a walk to charge your phone.

21 March 2014 // 0 Comments

Science Daily is rubbing their hands (and stomping their feet) over new breakthroughs in harnessing your everyday movements to power up your batteries: …[Georgia Institute of Technology professor Zhong Lin] Wang then developed the first triboelectric nanogenerator, or “TENG.” He paired two sheets of different materials together — one donates electrons, and the other accepts them. When the sheets touch, electrons flow from one to the other. When the sheets are separated, a voltage develops between them. Since his lab’s first publication on TENG in 2012, they have since boosted the power output density by a factor of 100,000, with the output power density reaching 300 Watts per square meter. Now with one stomp of his foot, Wang can light up a sheet with a thousand LED bulbs. His group has incorporated TENG into shoe insoles, whistles, foot pedals, floor mats, backpacks and ocean buoys for a variety of potential applications. These gadgets harness the […]

Electric current rouses the vegetative after years of unconsciousness.

7 March 2014 // 0 Comments

New Scientist has an amazing new therapy for patients in a vegetative state – using the same direct current-stimulation that increases creative “flow” to turn their brains back on all the way: The team worked with 55 people who had experienced a traumatic brain injury or lack of oxygen to the brain and were in a minimally conscious or vegetative state. They placed electrodes over their left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – an area involved in memory, decision-making and awareness. Then they delivered 20 minutes of stimulation to some of the people and a sham treatment to the others. The next day, the two groups received the opposite therapy. During brain stimulation, 13 people with minimal consciousness and two people in a vegetative state showed signs of awareness that were observed neither before the stimulation nor after the sham treatment. For most of these people the changes were moderate, but some recovered the ability to communicate, […]

Invisible ink revealed… a few centuries later.

13 November 2013 // 0 Comments

The medievalists at Medievalists.net are all excited over a new technology that “unerases” writings that were erased by scribes to make more room on precious parchment: Using cutting-edge technology, European scientists have uncovered new fragments by Euripides and an unknown ancient commentary on Aristotle. These writings were on parchments that were washed off and overwritten in medieval times. Using advanced multispectral imaging methods, the Palamedes project, based out of the Universities of Göttingen and Bologna were able to see the original writings in the manuscripts, one of which is located at the library of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Jerusalem, while the other can be found at the National Library of France in Paris. More about Palamedes (short for PALimpsestorum Aetatis Mediae EDitiones Et Studia) and their palimpsest discoveries over here.

Brain-tech DIYers! Grinders! Wire-heads! Uncle Sam wants YOU!

25 October 2013 // 0 Comments

PhysOrg is sending out the call, as the Pentagon prepares to team up with brain-tech DIYers: […A]t the Maker Faire in New York, a new low-cost EEG recording front end was debuted at DARPA’s booth. Known as OpenBCI, the device can process eight channels of high quality EEG data, and interface it to popular platforms like Arduino. Arduinos are ideal devices because there is a huge developer community that provides, among other things, “shields” which plug right in to the Arduino boards to add functionality. An Arduino is also easy to program with an intuitive language that does not require tedious assembly-level knowledge. Furthermore, additional analysis functions are provided by increasing popular Processing software development environment. DARPA program manager William Casebeer said that his goal was to return next year to the Maker meeting with a device that costs under $30. Other low cost projects they are funding include 3D printed electrodes by a startup […]

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