Sunday, February 24, 2008

Transformers:More than Meets the Eye

Sadly, my valley loses power more than any place i've ever been. Even where my grandparents live in Southern Taiwan, during a freaking hurricane for god sakes, keeps its power more regularly. Yes, I can say with near certainty that I lose power roughly one every 1-2 months.
But why? To my chagrin i really don't know. But i have my hunches. It's probably some transformer at the base of my valley or some place in the electrical substation that blows out.
So transformers... (insert robot joke here) they transfer the low current high voltage to be stepped down into more manageable electricity for homes and/or different areas. They have coils of different number of turns to allow alternating current (because it produces a magnetic flux) to either be stepped down or up.
The number of turns multiplied by the change in magnetic flux over the time it takes will give the voltage.
So why do they fail so often in my valley (assuming that they are even the problem)? Maybe overload, faulty parts, or maybe its the weather that can get to them, i have no clue.
Anyways, have a nice weekend everyone, and yes so far i've had power this whole weekend, nice!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dr. Hayashi's Talk

I was duly impressed with Dr. Hayashi’s ebullient and contagious optimism. Not only did she clearly liked talking to her audience, but immensely liked her work as well. But what truly struck me was her remark on education. I agree that what this country needs are more thinkers. Maybe not just scientists, but people that have the minds of scientists: clear and open minds. As I have probably mentioned before, China’s politburo is composed almost entirely of scientists; China is a technocracy. Concerned less with power they send the country in a forward and future looking path.
On the other and more ominous hand Muslim countries hardly make any impact on the world’s affairs. Although there are over a billion Muslims only two have ever won a Nobel Prize, in addition, one of these winners, a Pakistani, was barred from speaking in his native land. Today’s situation is a far cry from the golden times of early Arab rule during which Muslim Arabs led the world in scientific progress, a time when the rest of Europe was in the Dark Ages.
What went wrong? Invasions and Turkic peoples certainly destroyed the progress Arabs had made but there were also fewer people like Dr. Hayashi. When thinking becomes conservative and closed people will and can suffer terrible conditions.
This is why it was very encouraging to hear Dr. Hayashi speak so eloquently and passionately about spider silk. I know that people must question the reasons why scientists pursue these stretches of science when there is no apparent impact on people (for instance creatures on the ocean floor or in the far reaches of space). Nevertheless, there are indeed some very potentially profound and interesting applications for spider silk. One day there might be spider silk factories churning out either biological or synthetic silk to make incredibly strong materials. Her work compares to the fantastic qualities of the Spiderman comic. Like Spiderman, Dr. Hayashi’s work has the quality to be significant in people’s lives.
When scientists, like Dr. Hayashi, look for answers they open minds. All of a sudden there are many more paths to take. If only our politicians in the world had the training that Dr. Hayashi had. Scientists gather to figure out more about the genome, build the ISS, and test out CERN when the world’s politicians can’t come to terms with anything. Science is optimism; it is the general mood that things can be changed for the better. And optimism is something sorely needed in today’s world of gloom and doom.
Personally I feel that it made me realize that being open-minded is a golden quality. She had no idea what she wanted to do and it was by chance she had the opportunity to get into spiders. I just hope I have the same luck in finding equally golden opportunities.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Aqua Script

I just saw this system of displaying moving text and images using falling drops of water. Its called "Aqua Script" and reminded me of the physics that we have already done and will soon do. It is 2 meters long with a number of magnet-valves that can expel single water-drops on demand. It creates a virtual floating billboard effect and requires a computer to coordinate the timing and speeds of each water droplet to simulate the text made the water drops. So kinematics are definitely required to make this project a reality.

But furthermore this is an example of something interdisciplinary, or at least something in between art and science. So now I'm going to find some super bowl commercials to watch since I missed the game. Enjoy the weekend everyone!