Bitbeam: Open Source Hardware Prototyping Platform
Posted on April 19, 2016 Comments (1)
Bitbeam is an open source construction toy/hardware prototyping platform. A collection of LEGO Technic compatible parts (beams) which can be combined to construct whatever contraption the user has thought up.
The Bitbeam project aims to define a set of parts which the users themselves can produce using increasingly available technologies for local fabrication like 3D printers, laser cutters and CNC mills.
Tapster is a robot that automates mobile application checking on a smartphone. It is built using bitbeam.
The latest post on the Bitbeam web site is from 2013 but it seems it is still an active project (it would be nice if they update the site).
Please add a comment if you now of updated information or of similar open source projects.
Related: Open Source Ecology: Using Open Engineering to Create Economic Benefit – Arduino Introduction Video Tutorial – 3D Printing at Home: Today, Challenges and Opportunities – Introduction Video on 3D Printing – Lego Mindstorms Robots Solving: Sudoku and Rubik’s Cube (2009)
Sustainable Ocean Farming
Posted on April 3, 2016 Comments (4)
There are serious problems with our ability to grow healthy food for the number of people we have today (and will have in the future). Innovations have allowed us to feed ourselves. But the damage done to topsoil and other damage including pollution of our rivers is huge. Overfishing and factory farms are keeping us going today but are doing immense damage and are not sustainable.
Seed companies abusing the corrupt government patent systems creates even more damage. We need better solutions. We have many people doing great things but we need to do much more. Ocean farming is one of many areas we should expand. And we should greatly reduce the use of factory farms, antibiotics for livestock, overfishing and the overuse of pesticides.
I never thought climate change had anything to do with my life. But it does. From my vantage point, climate change is not an environmental issue at all — it’s an economic issue.
As ocean farmers, we reject aquaculture’s obsession with monoculture, an obsession similar to that of modern land farming. Our goal is diversity. It’s a sea-basket approach:We grow two types of seaweeds, four kinds of shellfish, and we harvest salt. But with over 10,000 edible plants in the ocean, we’ve barely scratched the surface.
Instead of repeating history we’re building infrastructure from seed-to-harvest-to-market. We’re starting nonprofit hatcheries so that our farmers can access low-cost seed. We’re creating ocean seed banks so that the Monsantos of the world can’t privatize the source of our food and livelihoods.
Posted on March 24, 2016 Comments (0)
Another great webcast from SciShow. In this webcast Hank Green discusses how we have used plants to treat us and improve our health.
In the webcast, Hank also does a good job touching a bit on the scientific inquiry process (which is something I find interesting and I think is very important for people living in society today to understand).
Gut Bacteria Explored as Medical Treatment – even for Cancer
Posted on March 14, 2016 Comments (0)
The interaction between gut bacteria and human health continues to be a fertile area of medical research. It appears to be in the very early days of such research. Of course, as I have said before, headline making news often doesn’t result in medical breakthrough, and even when it does a decade isn’t a long wait for it to happen.
The complex interactions involved in human health is another area that has huge room for research going forward.
Related: Some Bacteria Might Fight Cancer (2008) – Cancer Vaccines (2011) – Using Diatom Algae to Deliver Chemotherapy Drugs Directly to Cancer Cells (2015) – Webcast of a T-cell Killing a Cancerous Cell (2012)
Webcasts on the Human Microbiome
Posted on February 27, 2016 Comments (2)
The human microbiome is a very interesting aspect of our health and biology.
The 99% figure they quote is mainly silly. It might be technically accurate, but it is much more misleading than accurate (if it is accurate). We have more non-human cells than human but those cells are much smaller and we are overwhelmingly made up of human cells by weight (95+%).
The complexity of healthy bodies is far from understood. It is interesting to watch our understanding of the balancing act going on inside of us. Many foreign “invaders” are critical to our health.
Related: People are Superorganisms With Microbiomes of Thousands of Species – People Have More Bacterial Cells than Human Cells – Fighting Superbugs with Superhero Bugs – We Have Thousands of Viruses In Us All the Time
Google Cardboard 3d Viewer Helped Surgeons Save Baby’s Life
Posted on February 14, 2016 Comments (5)
“It was mind-blowing,” says Cassidy Lexcen, the baby’s mother. “To see this little cardboard box and a phone, and to think this is what saved our daughter’s life.”
Google Cardboard is a virtual reality and augmented reality platform developed by Google for use with a head mount for smart phone. Just get a simple cardboard holder you wear like goggles and an app for Android or iOS and you can view cool 3d virtual realities.
Cleaning Up the Plastic Pollution in Our Oceans
Posted on January 30, 2016 Comments (0)
This is an interesting talk on an important topic: cleaning up plastic in the ocean. ,a student from the Netherlands, looked to find a solution to a problem others said couldn’t be solved.
This is exactly the type of wonderful activity that inspired people can accomplish using science and engineering. He collected an understanding of the 50 issues that supposedly makes a solution impossible.
After getting funding (sparked by an explosion of viral social media) he worked on exploring the “insolvable” problems (having withdrawn from school to work on this problem). It is wonderful to see what we can do when inspired people use science and engineering to make the world a better place.
From their website, The Ocean Cleanup
The plastic will be stored in an internal buffer within the platform at the tip of the V-shaped array. The plastic in the buffer will regularly be emptied onto a vessel that comes to collect it for transport to land. This will occur approximately once every six weeks, depending on the size of the vessel.
Besides monetary support, your relevant knowledge and skills may be a very welcome addition to The Ocean Cleanup. Our work requires not only scientific and technical expertise, but also assistance with legal, commercial and policy matters. If you would like to get actively involved in our work, If you would like to get actively involved in our work, please visit the careers page.
They aim to put a full scale pilot project in place in 3 to 4 years.
Ancient Chinese Natural Gas Drilling Using Bamboo
Posted on January 23, 2016 Comments (0)
This very interesting article is a great read about the history of Chinese bamboo drilling by Oliver Kuhn.
At some point around 2,000 years ago the leap from hand and shovel dug wells to percussively drilled ones was made. By the beginning of the 3rd century AD, wells were being drilled up to 140m deep. The drilling technique used can still be seen in China today, when rural farmers drill water wells. The drill bit is made of iron, the pipe bamboo. The rig is constructed from bamboo; one or more men stands on a wooden plank lever, much like a seesaw, and this lifts up the drill stem a metre or so. The pipe is allowed to drop, and the drill bit crashes down into the rock, pulverizing it. Inch by inch, month by month, the drilling slowly progresses.
A major breakthrough was achieved around 1050 AD, allowing deeper wells, when solid bamboo pipe was replaced by thin, light, flexible bamboo “cable”. This dramatically lowered the weight that needed to be lifted from the surface, a weight that increased with the depth being drilled. By the 1700s Sichuan wells were typically in the range of 300 – 400m deep
One bamboo pipe line would take away the brine, and others the gas. The 2,000 year plus Sichuan salt industry has drilled approximately 130,000 brine and gas wells, and 10% of those were in the immediate Zigong area. Zigong has a cumulative gas production over this period of over 30 billion cubic metres. The area continues to be a major salt producer, and many of the historical wells are still in production.
As recently as the 1950s there was still over 95km of bamboo pipeline in operation in the Zigong area.
Related: Research on Ancient Roman Concrete Will Allow the Creation of More Durable and Environmentally Friendly Concrete – Why did China’s Scientific Innovation Stop? – Hyperloop – Fast Transportation Using a Better Engineering Solution Than We Do Now
Backyard Wildlife: Fox
Posted on January 17, 2016 Comments (2)
I have seen this (or another fox) several times recently but this was the first time it stayed visible long enough for me to get a photo. It is fun having backyard wildlife to connect us to nature.
A few years ago another fox enjoyed laying out in the sun in my backyard for a few weeks.
I am amazed how many animals I have seen in my backyard in a very urban area. In the last few weeks, in addition to this fox: possum, raccoon (I’ll post photos later), deer, squirrels, and various birds.
Here is an updated photo of deer, since my first few sightings didn’t result in a good photo.
$1 Device To Give Throat Cancer Patients Their Voice Again
Posted on January 2, 2016 Comments (1)
We need to keep developing cost effective solutions to provide for the needs of billions of people around the world. It is great to see appropriate technology solutions at work making people’s lives better.
Related: Appropriate Technology Health Care Solution Could Save 72,000 Lives a Year – Manufacturing Biological Sensors Using Silk and Looms – Pedal Powered Washing Machine – Appropriate Technology: Self Adjusting Glasses
20 Most Popular Post on Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog in 2015
Posted on December 26, 2015 Comments (1)
These were the most popular (by number of page views) posts on our blog in 2015.
- Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel (2008)
- 3D Printing at Home: Today, Challenges and Opportunities (2015)
- Why is it Colder at Higher Elevations? (2008)
- Top Countries for Science and Math Education: Finland, Hong Kong and Korea (2010 – showing 2009 PISA results, related: Math Education Results Show China, Singapore, Korea and Japan Leading (2014 -showing 2012 PISA results)
- Nanotechnology Breakthroughs for Computer Chips (2007)
- Molten Salt Solar Reactor Approved by California (2010)
- Science Sort of Explains: Hiccups (2008)
- Science Toys You Can Make With Your Kids (2005)
- Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe Hybrid Image (2009)
- Loan Forgiveness Program for Engineering Students (2008)
- Science and Optical Illusions (2010)
- Ranking Countries by Scientific Publication Citations: USA, UK, Germany… (2015)
- S&P 500 CEO’s: Engineering is the Most Common Major (2009)
- 59 MPG Toyota iQ Diesel Available in Europe (2008)
- How Lysozyme Protein in Our Tear-Drops Kill Bacteria (2012)
- Home Halloween Engineering: Gaping Hole Costume (2010)
- 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: the Structure and Function of the Ribosome (2009)
- Using Bacteria to Carry Nanoparticles Into Cells (2007)
- Underwater Pedestrian Walkway (2011)
- Lexus Has Built a Working Hoverboard (2015)
This list shows how popular old posts can remain over time. 12 of these were also in the top 20 in 2014, 8 are new to the list this year. 3 of those are 2015 posts, in 2014 1 post from 2014 made the top 20. The distribution over the years of publication of the posts in the list this year: