Category Archives: Engineering

NASA’s Valkyrie (R5) Humanoid Robot is Being Groomed to Support Future Space Exploration Missions

The design of National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) humanoid robot R5, commonly known as Valkyrie, started in October 2012 and it was unveiled in December 2013.

NASA Valkyrie robot  Source: NASA

Valkyrie was developed by a team from NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, in partnership with the University of Texas and Texas A&M and with funding from the state of Texas to compete in the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency’s (DARPA) Robotics Challenge (DRC).  You’ll find a technical description of Valkyrie on the IEEE Spectrum website at the following link:

http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/military-robots/nasa-jsc-unveils-valkyrie-drc-robot

In the 2013 DRC Trials Valkyrie was a Track A entry, but it failed to score any points, largely due to unforeseen data communications problems.  An assessment of the developmental and operational problems encountered during the 2013 DRC Trials and another assessment of Valkyrie by the Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) is reported on the IEEE Spectrum website at the following link:

http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/update-nasa-valkyrie-robot

Valkyrie did not compete in the 5 – 6 June 2015 DRC Finals. Instead, NASA brought two Valkyrie robots to the DRC Finals for display and demonstration and to help promote NASA’s Space Robotics Challenge (SRC), which was announced in March 2015.

NASA describes the SRC as follows:

“The Space Robotics Challenge is currently contemplated as a dual level, two-track challenge. The Level I challenge would involve a virtual challenge competition in software simulation and the Level II demonstration challenge would involve use of software to control a robot to perform sequences of tasks. Both Levels of the challenge would have a Track A and Track B option. A competitor would pick only one track in which to compete. Track A would utilize the Robonaut 2 platform and focus on simulated in-space tasks such as spacecraft maintenance and operations in transit to Mars, while Track B would utilize the R5 platform robot to perform simulated tasks on planetary surfaces, such as precursor habitat deployment on Mars, or disaster relief in an industrial setting on Earth.”

The highest scoring teams from the Level I (simulation) challenge will be given access to NASA-provided robots to prepare for the Level II (physical) challenge.

You can download a NASA Fact Sheet on SRC at the following link:

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/fs_space_robotics_150908.pdf

As part of SRC, NASA awarded Valkyrie robots to two university groups that competed in the DRC Finals. The winners announced in November 2015 were:

  • A team at MIT under the leadership of Russ Tedrake. Team MIT placed 6th in the 2015 DRC Finals with an Atlas robot built by Boston Dynamics
  • A team at Northeastern University under the leadership of Taskin Padir, who formerly was Co-PI of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) – Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) team that placed 7th in the DRC Finals with an upgraded Atlas robot known as Warner.

Each team has possession of a Valkyrie robot for two years; receives up to $250,000; and has access to onsite and virtual technical support from NASA. NASA stated that, “The robots will have walking, balancing and manipulating capabilities so that future research may focus on the development of complex behaviors that would advance autonomy for bipedal humanoid robots.” These two teams will not compete in the SRC Level I challenge, but will be eligible to compete in the Level II challenge.

An assessment of Valkyrie’s potential roles in future missions to Mars was published in 23 June 2015 on the IEEE Spectrum website. You can read this article at the following link:

http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/nasa-wants-help-training-valkyrie-robot-to-go-to-mars

The types of activities a humanoid robot might perform on a Mars mission are expected to become tasks to be demonstrated by each team choosing Track B in the SRC.

In the time between the DRC Finals and the SRC Level II competitions, I’m sure we’ll see substantial improvements in humanoid robot performance.

Solar Impulse 2 is Making its way Across the USA

If you have been reading the Pete’s Lynx blog for a while, then you should be familiar with the remarkable team that created the Solar Impulse 2 aircraft and is attempting to make the first flight around the world on solar power.  The planned route is shown in the following map.

Solar Impulse 2 route map

Image source: Solar Impulse

I refer you to my following posts for background information:

  • 10 March 2015: Solar Impulse 2 Designed for Around-the-World Flight on Solar Power
  • 3 July 2015: Solar Impulse 2 Completes Record Solo, Non-Stop, Solar-Powered Flight from Nagoya, Japan to Oahu, Hawaii
  • 27 February 2016: Solar Impulse 2 Preparing for the Next Leg of its Around-the-World Journey

Picking off where these stories left off in Hawaii, Solar Impulse 2 has made four more flights:

  • 21 – 24 April 2016: Hawaii to Moffett Field, near San Francisco, CA; 2,539 miles (4,086 km) in 62 h 29 m
  • 2 – 3 May 2016: San Francisco to Phoenix, AZ; 692 miles (1,113 km) in 15 h 52 m
  • 12 – 13 May 2016: Phoenix to Tulsa, OK; 976 miles (1,570 km) in 18 h 10 m
  • 21 – 22 May 2016: Tulsa to Dayton, OH; 692 miles (1,113 km) in 16 h 34 m

From the above distances and flight times, the average speed of Solar Impulse 2 across the USA was a stately 43.6 mph (70.2 kph).  Except for the arrival in the Bay Area, I think the USA segments of the Solar Impulse 2 mission have been given remarkably little coverage by the mainstream media.

SI2 flying above the USAImage source: Solar Impulse

Regarding the selection of Dayton as a destination for Solar Impulse 2, the team posted the following:

“On his way to Dayton, Ohio, hometown of Wilbur and Orville Wright, André Borschberg pays tribute to pioneering spirit, 113 years after the two brothers succeeded in flying the first power-driven aircraft heavier than air.

To develop their wing warping concept, the two inventors used their intuition and observation of nature to think out of the box. They defied current knowledge at a time where all experts said it would be impossible. When in 1903, their achievement marked the beginning of modern aviation; they did not suspect that a century later, two pioneers would follow in their footsteps, rejecting all dogmas to fly an airplane around the world without a drop of fuel.

This flight reunites explorers who defied the impossible to give the world hope, audacious men who believed in their dream enough to make it a reality.”

Wright Bros and SI2 pilotsImage source: Solar Impulse.

You can see in the above route map that future destinations are not precisely defined. Flight schedules and specific routes are selected with due consideration for en-route weather.

The Solar Impulse 2 team announced that its next flight is scheduled to take off from Dayton on 24 May and make an 18-hour flight to the Lehigh Valley Airport in Pennsylvania. Following that, the next flight is expected to be to an airport near New York City.

If you haven’t been following the flight of Solar Impulse 2 across the USA, I hope you will start now. This is a remarkable aeronautical mission and it is happening right now. You can check out the Solar Impulse website at:

http://www.solarimpulse.com

If you wish, you can navigate to and sign up for e-mail updates on future flights. Here’s the direct link:

http://www.solarimpulse.com/subscribe

With these updates, you also will be able to access live video feeds during the flights. OK, the videos are mostly pretty boring, but they are remarkable nonetheless because of the mission you have an opportunity to watch, even briefly, in real time.

There’s much more slow, steady flying to come before Solar Impulse 2 completes its around-the-world journey back to Abu Dhabi. I send my best wishes for a successful mission to the brave pilots, André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, and to the entire Solar Impulse 2 team.

 

 

 

Polymagnets® will Revolutionize the Ways in Which Magnets are Used

The U.S firm Correlated Magnetics Research (CMR), Huntsville, AL, invented and is the sole manufacturer of Polymagnets®, which are precision-tailored magnets that enhance existing and new products with specific behaviors that go far beyond the simple attract-and-repel behavior of common magnets. Polymagnets have been granted over 100 patents, all held by CMR. You can visit their website at the following link:

http://www.polymagnet.com

CMR describes Polymagnets® as follows:

“Essentially programmable magnets, Polymagnets are the first fundamental advance in magnets in 180 years, since the introduction of electromagnets. With Polymagnets, new products can have softer ‘feel’ or snappier or crisper closing or opening behavior, and may be given the sensation of a spring or latch”.

On a conventional magnet, there is a North (N) pole on one surface and a South (S) pole on the opposite surface. Magnetic field lines flow around the magnetic from pole to pole. On a Polymagnet®, many small, polarized (N or S) magnetic pixels (“maxels”) are manufactured by printing in a desired pattern on the same surface. The magnetic field lines are completed between the maxels on that surface, resulting in a very compact, strong magnetic field. This basic concept is shown in the following figure.

Polymagnet field comparison

The mechanical 3-D behavior of a Polymagnet® is determined by the pattern and strength of the maxels embedded on the surface of the magnet. These customizable behaviors include spring, latch, shear, align, snap, torque, hold, twist, soften and release. The very compact magnetic field reduces magnetic interference with other equipment, opening new applications for Polymagnets® where a conventional magnet wouldn’t be suitable.

The above figure is a screenshot from the Smarter Every Day 153 video, which you can view at the following link. Thanks to Mike Spaeth for sending me this is a 10-minute video, which I think you will enjoy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IANBoybVApQ

More information on Polymagnet® technology, including short videos that demonstrate different mechanical behaviors, and a series of downloadable white papers, is available at the following link.

http://www.polymagnet.com/polymagnets/

This is remarkable new technology in search of novel applications. Many practical applications are identified on the Polymagnet® website. What are your ideas?

If you really want to look into this technology, you can buy a Polymagnet® demonstration kit at the following links:

https://www.magnetics.com/product.asp?ProductID=164

or,

http://www.mechanismsmarket.com/kits/

Polymagnet demo kit   Source: Mechanisms Market

 

VBB-3, the World’s Most Powerful Electric Car, will Challenge the Land Speed Record in 2016

Venturi Buckeye Bullet-3 (VBB-3) is an all-electric, four wheel drive, land speed record (LSR) car that has been designed to exceed 400 mph (643.7 km/h). The organizations involved in this project are:

  • Venturi Automobiles:

This Monaco-based company is a leader in the field of high performance electric vehicles. Read more at the Venturi website at the following link:

http://en.venturi.fr/challenges/world-speed-records

  • Ohio State University (OSU) Center for Automotive Research (CAR):

OSU’s CAR has been engaged in all-electric LSR development and testing since 2000. On 3 October 2004 at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, the original nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery-powered Buckeye Bullet reached a top speed of 321.834 mph (517.942 km/h).

In an on-going program known as Mission 01, started in 2009, OSU partnered with Venturi to develop, test, and conduct the land speed record runs of the hydrogen fuel cell-powered VBB-2, the battery-powered VBB-2.5, and the more powerful battery-powered VBB-3.  Read more at the OSU / CAR website at following link:

https://car.osu.edu/search/node/VBB-3

 The Venturi – OSU team’s accomplishments to date are:

  • 2009:  The team’s first world land speed record was achieved on the Bonneville Salt Flats with hydrogen fuel cell-powered VBB-2 at 303 mph (487 km/h).
  •  2010:  The team returned to the salt flats with the 700 hp lithium-ion battery powered VBB-2.5 which set another world record at 307 mph (495 km/h); with a top speed at 320 mph (515 km/h).
  •  2013:  The 3,000 hp lithium iron phosphate battery-powered VBB-3 was unveiled. Due to the flooding of the Bonneville Salt Flats, the FIA and the organizers of the world speed records program cancelled the 2013 competition.
  •  2014Poor track conditions at Bonneville persisted after flooding from a summer storm. Abbreviated test runs by VBB-3 yielded a world record in its category (electric vehicle over 3.5 metric tons) with an average speed of 212 mph (341 km/h) and a top speed of 270 mph (435 km/h).
  •  2015:  Poor track conditions at Bonneville persisted after flooding from a summer storm. Abbreviated test runs by VBB-3 yielded a world record in its category (electric vehicle over 3.5 metric tons) with an average speed of 212 mph (341 km/h) and a top speed of 270 mph (435 km/h).

You will find a comparison of the VBB-2, VBB-2.5 and VBB-3 vehicles at the following link:

http://en.vbb3.venturi.fr/about/the-car

VBB-3 has a 37.2 ft. (11.35 meter) long, slender, space frame chassis that houses eight battery packs with a total of 2,000 cells, two 1,500 hp AC induction motors developed by Venturi for driving the front and rear wheels, a coolant system for the power electronics, disc brakes and a braking parachute, and a small cockpit for the driver. The basic internal arrangement of these components in the VBB-3 chassis is shown in the following diagram.

VBB-3 internalSource: Venturi

You can see a short video of a test drive of VBB-3 without its external skin at the following link:

http://en.vbb3.venturi.fr

The exterior aerodynamic carbon fiber shell was designed with the aid of the OSU Supercomputer Center to minimize vehicle drag and lift.

VBB-3 skinSource: Venturi

The completed VBB-3 with members of the project team is shown below.

VBB-3 completeSource: Venturi

A good video showing the 2010 VBB-2.5 record run and a 2014 test run of VBB-3 is at the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLn07Y-t1Xc&ebc=ANyPxKqkVxPKQWnYXzUemRbE5WWlRIJUbaXA-UN6XPNoiDZG1O4NsFq8RE08QlrfdbfkxKmE32MEf5g2Qw0_WQbFXBvKYz9qwg

VBB-3 currently is being prepared in the OSU / CAR workshop in Columbus, Ohio, for another attempt at the land speed record in summer 2016. A team of about 25 engineers and students are planning to be at the Bonneville Salt Flats in summer 2016 with the goal of surpassing 372 mph (600 km/h).

You can subscribe to Venturi new releases on VBB-3 at the following link:

http://en.venturi.fr/news/the-vbb-3-gets-ready

VBB-3 at BonnevilleSource: Venturi

Update 2 January 2017: VBB-3 sets new EV land speed record

On 19 September 2016, VBB-3 set an electric vehicle (Category A Group VIII Class 8) land-speed record of 341.4 mph (549 kph), during a two-way run within one hour on the Bonneville salt flats in Utah. You can read the OSU announcement at the following link:

https://news.osu.edu/news/2016/09/21/ohio-states-all-electric-venturi-buckeye-bullet-3-sets-new-landspeed-record/

You also can watch a short video of VBB-3’s record run at the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIqT4qLtGcY

Certification of this EV speed record by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile’s (FIA) is still pending.

The Venturi-OSU team believes VBB-3 has the capability to achieve 435 mph (700 kph) in the right conditions, so we can expect more record attempts in the future.

New From The National Academies Press

My 14 March 2015 post provided an introduction to The National Academies Press (NAP), which is a very good source for reports and other documents on the following topics:

  • Agriculture
  • Behavioral & social sciences
  • Biographies & autobiographies
  • Biology & life sciences
  • Computers & information technology
  • Conflict & security issues
  • Earth sciences
  • Education
  • Energy & energy conservation
  • Engineering & technology
  • Environment & environmental studies
  • Food & nutrition
  • Health & medicine
  • Industry & labor
  • Mathematics, chemistry & physics
  • Policy for science & technology
  • Space & aeronautics
  • Transportation

Most of the NAP reports can be downloaded for free as pdf files if you establish a MyNAP account. If you haven’t set up such an account, you can do so at the following link:

http://www.nap.edu/content/using-mynap

With this account, you also can get e-mail notifications of new NAP reports.

For those of you who have not set up a MyNAP account, here are several new NAP reports that I found to be interesting.

Infusing Ethics into the Development of Engineers (2016)

Ethical practice in engineering is critical for ensuring public trust in the field and in its practitioners, especially as engineers increasingly tackle international and socially complex problems that combine technical and ethical challenges. This report aims to raise awareness of the variety of exceptional programs and strategies for improving engineers’ understanding of ethical and social issues and provides a resource for those who seek to improve ethical development of engineers at their own institutions.

NAP-infuse engineers  Source: NAP

Reducing the Use of Highly Enriched Uranium in Civilian Research Reactors (2016)

Today, 74 civilian research reactors around the world, including 8 in the U.S., use or are planning to use HEU fuel. In the past decades, many civilian reactors around the world have been either shut down or converted from HEU to low enriched uranium fuel. Despite this progress, the large number of remaining HEU-fueled reactors demonstrates that further progress is needed on a worldwide scale.

Print  Source: NAP

Enhancing Participation in the U.S. Global Change Research Program (2016)

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is a collection of 13 Federal entities charged by law to assist the U.S. and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change. As the understanding of global change has evolved over the past decades and as demand for scientific information on global change has increased, the USGCRP has increasingly focused on research that can inform decisions to cope with current climate variability and change, to reduce the magnitude of future changes, and to prepare for changes projected over the coming decades.

NAP-global change  Source: NAP

Frontiers of Engineering – Reports on Leading-Edge Engineering from the 2015 Symposium (2016)

This volume presents papers on the following topics covered at the National Academy of Engineering’s 2015 U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium:

  • Cyber security and privacy
  • Engineering the search for Earth-like exoplanets
  • Optical and mechanical metamaterials
  • Forecasting natural disasters

NAP-frontiers of engg 2015  Source: NAP

There are many other annual reports in the NAP “Frontiers of Engineering” series, dating back to at least 1997, and covering many other engineering topics.

I hope you’ll take some time and browse the NAP library for documents that are of interest to you. You can start your browsing, without a MyNAP account, at the following link:

http://www.nap.edu

Just How Flat is Hakskeen Pan?

If you will be driving the UK’s Bloodhound supersonic car (SSC) in 2016, you really care about the answer to that question.

Hakskeen Pan is a very flat region in the Northwestern corner of South Africa, and it is the site selected by the Bloodhound Project team for a 16 km (9.94 mile) track that will be used for their world land speed record attempt.

Hakskeen Pan mapSource: adapted from http://southafricamap.facts.co/

My 2 March 2015 post introduced you to the Bloodhound Project and gave you the link to their website where you can get a complete update on the project and sign up for their blog. Here again is the link to the Bloodhound Project home page:

http://www.bloodhoundssc.com/project

So, how flat is Hakskeen Pan and how much does it matter to a land speed record car traveling at 1,000 mph (1,609 kph)? The Cape Town, South Africa, survey company Lloyd & Hill surveyed the entire 16 km by 500 meter wide track surface (an area of about 8 million square meters) measuring the elevation in each square meter to an accuracy of 10 mm (0.39 in) or less. Using laser-scanning technology to collect data, and some considerable computing resources, Lloyd & Hill reduced four billion laser measurements into a 3-dimensional surface map of Hakskeen Pan. Key findings were:

  • Hakskeen Pan has a very gentle slope from north to south: dropping 300 mm in 16 km (about one foot in 10 miles)
  • Across the whole surface, the biggest ‘bumps’ and ‘dips’ are less than 50 mm (2 inches) from the average elevation
  • There’s an 80 mm (3.12 in) ‘step’ that occurs in a distance of 180 m (590 ft) running across the Pan, just over 9 km from the northern end of the track, and just where the car will be travelling at 1,000 mph.

BLOODHOUND SSC-scanned area of Hakskeen PanSource: The Bloodhound Project

The Bloodhound SSC has independent double-wishbone suspension on all four wheels. Preliminary dynamic analysis of the Bloodhound SSC’s suspension response to the measured surface irregularities shows that the vehicle should not be subject to loads of more than 1.0 – 1.5 g during it’s world land speed record attempt.   The suspension is designed to cope with up to 4 g.

Check out the details of the Hakskeen Pan site survey and the vehicle dynamic analysis at the following link:

http://www.bloodhoundssc.com/blog/andy-green’s-diary-–-august-2015

Also check out the Education tab on the Bloodhound Project website. I think you will be pleased to see how this exciting engineering project is working to engage with and inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

23 January 2017 Update – Hakskeen Pan floods

 Hakskeen Pan flooded Jan2017Source: The Bloodhound Project

The Bloodhound team reported:

“This particular flood was caused mainly by the rain in Namibia and flooding from the rivers, rather than actual rainfall on the Pan and surrounding catchment area, as there are many rivers that flow into the Pan.

Having the desert flood like this is very good news for us, as flooding helps to repair the surface from any damage that may have been caused in the final preparation and clearance of the desert, and it helps to create the best possible surface for land speed record racing.”

Read more at the following link:

http://www.bloodhoundssc.com/news/hakskeen-pan-update-0

 

Status of Desalination Plants in California

On 9 June 2015, Forbes reported that the Diablo Canyon NPP, located on the coast near San Luis Obisbo, CA, meets 100% of it’s own fresh water needs with it’s own reverse osmosis (RO) + ultrafiltration desalination plant.

Diablo-Canyon-Nuclear-Power-Plant  Source: PGE

Diablo Canyon salination_1 Source: PGE

This is the largest desalinization plant currently operating on the West coast. The current fresh water production rate is 675,000 gallons/day; about 40% of full capacity: 1,500,000 gallons/day (1,681 acre-feet/year). The Forbes article suggests that the Diablo Canyon NPP would quickly be able to help the nearby communities that currently are experiencing a severe water shortage as a result of the four-year California drought. With some additional modular RO units and a pipeline to connect to the public water system, up to 825,000 gallons/day could be delivered for public consumption.

Other operating desalination plants in regular use in California are:

Sand City Coastal (seawater) Desalination Plant in Monterey County: 300 acre-feet/year (268,000 gallons/day).

  • Southern California Edison seawater desalination plant on Catalina Island: 224 acre-feet/year (200,000 gallons/day).
  • Cambria Community Services District brackish water desalination plant, which began operating in early 2015, providing 250 acre-feet/year (223,000 gallons/day), about 35% of the town’s fresh water needs.

Other desalination projects in California include:

  • The Posiedon Water seawater desalination plant in Carlsbad, CA, which is expected to have a capacity of 56,050 acre-feet/year (50,000,000 gallons/day) after it is completed in November 2015. This plant will meet about 7% of San Diego county’s fresh water needs.

Carlsbad-Desalineation-Plant-Site

Source: San Diego Water Authority

  • The Posiedon Water seawater desalination project in Huntington Beach, which is in the final phase of permitting and is expected to be completed in 2018, also with a capacity of 50,000,000 gallons/day.
  • The Doheny Ocean Desalination Project in south Orange County, which is planned to deliver 16,816 acre-feet/year (15,000,000 gallons/day), with a target completion date of 2020.
  • The city-owned Charles E. Meyer desalination plant in Santa Barbara, which was mothballed in 1992 after a short test period. Plans are being prepared to modernize and re-start this plant, which has a licensed capacity is 7,500 acre-feet/year ( 6,691,0000 gallons/day) and can meet about 30% of the city’s fresh water needs.
  • Four new desalination plants on the Monterey peninsula are in the planning stage:
    • Marina Coast, Armstrong Ranch brackish water desalination plant: 2,700 acre-feet/year (2,409,000 gallons/day)
    • California American Water, Monterey Peninsula Water Supply seawater desalination plant: 9,750 acre-feet/year (8,698,000 gallons/day)
    • Deepwater Desalination, Moss Landing seawater desalination plant: 10,000 acre-feet/year (8,922,000 gallons/day)
    • People’s Project: Moss Landing seawater desalination plant: 13,400 acre-feet/year (11,950,0000 gallons/day)

You can find more details on California desalination plants at the following links:

The Forbes article:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/06/09/californias-megadrought-nuclear-power-to-the-rescue/

The Diablo Canyon NPP seawater desalination plant (video):

http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2015/06/03/3663267_how-diablo-canyons-desalination.html?rh=1

Posiedon Water’s Carlsbad seawater desalination plant:

http://poseidonwater.com/our_projects/all_projects/carlsbad_project

Posiedon Water’s Huntington Beach seawater desalination plant:

http://poseidonwater.com/our_projects/all_projects/huntington_beach_project

Santa Barbara’s Charles E. Meyer seawater desalination plant:

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-santa-barbara-desal-20150303-story.html

The several Monterey peninsula desalination projects:

http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/news/local_news/marina-coast-gets-gangbusters-for-its-own-desal-plant-to/article_10f8adc4-c82b-11e4-a7f6-9b88d4a73155.html

The Cambria brackish water desalination plant:

http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2014/11/08/3339786/cambria-csd-water-treatment-plant.html

Catalina seawater desalination plant:

https://www.sce.com/wps/wcm/connect/9b85bcbc-a87f-4cf1-8e42-008090ff30be/Catalina+Island+Fact+Sheets+FINAL_v2.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

Sand City Coastal (seawater) desalination plant:

http://www.water-technology.net/projects/sand-city-plant/

The Doheny Ocean (seawater) Desalination Project:

http://www.scwd.org/projects/oceandesal3.asp

20 December 2015 update

The sea water desalination plant in Carlsbad, CA was officially dedicated on 14 December 2015 in a public ceremony attended by more than 600 elected officials, community leaders and project partners.  Formerly known as the Poseidon desalination plant, the plant was officially named in honor of former Carlsbad Mayor, Claude ‘Bud’ Lewis. A 30-year Water Purchase Agreement is in place between the San Diego County Water Authority and Poseidon Water for the entire output of the plant, which started delivering water earlier in December.  This is the largest sea water desalination plant in the western hemisphere.

You can get more information at the home page for this plant at the following link:

http://carlsbaddesal.com

 

Alpha the Robot Visited San Diego in 1935

Earlier this year, the San Diego U-T newspaper started a series entitled, Balboa Park – 100 Memories, which, on 22 May 2015, presented an article on Alpha the robot, who visited San Diego in 1935 for exhibition during the 1934 – 35 California Pacific International Exposition. Alpha was the creation of British engineering professor Harry May and was first introduced in the U.K in 1932.

Alpha the Robot 1935 U-T

Image source: San Diego History Center, Electric Ivy

Alpha debuted in the U.S. with an appearance at Macy’s department store in New York City in 1934. The November 5, 1934 issue of Time magazine describes a demonstration of Alpha at Macy’s as follows:

 “Last week Alpha, the robot, made its first public appearance in the U. S. One of the most ingenious automatons ever contrived by man, a grim and gleaming monster 6 ft. 4 in. tall, the robot was brought to Manhattan by its owner-inventor-impresario, Professor Harry May of London, and installed on the fifth floor of R. H. Macy & Co.’s department store. Encased from head to foot in chromium-plated steel armor, Alpha sat on a specially constructed dais with its cumbrous feet securely bolted to the floor, stared impassively over the knot of newshawks and store officials waiting for the first demonstration. The creature had a great sullen slit of a mouth, vast protuberant eyes, shaggy curls of rolled metal. In one mailed fist Alpha clutched a revolver.”

Some details of Alpha’s operation were described in the February, 1934 issue of Practical Mechanics magazine, which you can read at the following link:

http://www.davidbuckley.net/DB/HistoryMakers/Alpha1932_files/PracticalMechanics/PracticalMechanics.htm

Practical Mechanics Feb34 cover

Image source: www/davidbuckley.net, see link above

As discussed in the recent U-T, Balboa Park – 100 Memories article, Alpha the robot was exhibited in the Palace of Science (now the Museum of Man) in Balboa Park. The article goes on to say:

 “The 2,000-pound, 6-foot steel giant stood up, sat down, smoked cigarettes, fired a gun and answered questions. Asked if he loved his wife, according to a Feb. 29, 1936, article in the San Diego Sun, Alpha replied, “I’ve a heart of steel. I don’t love nobody and nobody loves me.”

During the California Pacific International Exposition, a performer in a costume similar to Alpha the robot attempted to kidnap Zorine, Queen of the Nudists, from Zoro Garden, a sunken stone grotto originally designed as a nudist colony attraction for the Exposition, near what is now the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.  Imagine that!

Alpha kidnaps Zorine

You can see a short interview with Alpha the robot at the following link:

http://en.savefrom.net/#url=http://youtube.com/watch?v=a9l9pt_Jzn8&utm_source=youtube.com&utm_medium=short_domains&utm_campaign=www.ssyoutube.com

Alpha the robot must have been very impressive for it’s time. To see what modern robots can do 80 years later, be sure to follow the 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Finals to be held 5-6 June, 2015, at Fairplex in Pomona, Calif., outside of Los Angeles. Refer to my 23 March 2015 post for more information of the DRC Finals.

Kurzgesagt Explains the Fermi Paradox: Where are all the aliens?

Kurzgesagt (German for “in a nutshell“) is a Munich-based design studio with a distinctive perspective on design and animation in the fields of education, science and commerce. For more background information on Kurzgesagt, visit their website at:

http://kurzgesagt.org/profile/

Then, select “Projects” or “YouTube” on the menu on the left side of the screen to access their library of animated video briefings. The icons for some of your choices in the “Projects” menu are shown below. All project videos also are available on YouTube. I hope you enjoy these briefings.

Kurzgesagt1  The Fermi Paradox

Kurzgesagt2 Who Invented the Internet?

Kurzgesagt3  Time Explained

Kurzgesagt4 Is Nuclear Energy Good or Bad?

San Diego Bioprinter and Cosmetics Firm Team Up to Manufacture Human Skin

The 20 March 2015 Pete’s Lynx post, “Scalability of 3-D printing (additive manufacturing)”, addressed the use of 3-D printing to manufacture skin for treating burn victims, either by separately manufacturing skin for use in conventional grafts, or by directly printing new skin onto the burn wounds.

A new application for the use of manufactured human skin in cosmetics testing is being explored by San Diego bioprinting firm Organovo Holdings, Inc. and French cosmetics firm L’Oreal. This is the first potential application of this technology in the beauty industry, and it appears to offer an effective means to test new cosmetics and conduct other advanced research while complying with the 2013 European Union ban on animal testing.

The Organovo website is:

http://www.organovo.com

You can read the press release on the partnership between L’Oreal USA and Organovo to develop 3-D bioprinted skin tissue at the following link:

http://ir.organovo.com/news/press-releases/press-releases-details/2015/LOreal-USA-Announces-Research-Partnership-with-Organovo-to-Develop-3-D-Bioprinted-Skin-Tissue/default.aspx?_ga=1.173869475.1464967055.1432334566

The press release states that:

“…the collaboration will leverage Organovo’s proprietary NovoGen Bioprinting Platform and L’Oreal’s expertise in skin engineering to develop 3-D printed skin tissue for product evaluation and other areas of advanced research…… Organovo’s 3D bioprinting enables the reproducible, automated creation of living human tissues that mimic the form and function of native tissues in the body.”

Those of you who watch the BBC TV series Dr. Who may already see another application of this blend of bioprinting + cosmetics technology as a means for maintaining Lady Cassandra, who, after 708 plastic surgeries, has been reduced to a translucent piece of skin stretched across a frame.

Lady_Cassandra Source: Wikipedia