Posts about engineering webcasts

Soft Morphing Robot Future

This webcast shows iRobot’s (Romba maker) prototypes for soft flexible robots. The robot uses “jamming” to morph the body which allows animal like locomotion and the ability to reshape the body to squeeze through small and difficult to navigate locations.

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Science and Engineering Lectures Online

VideoLectures.Net offers free and open access of a high quality video lectures presented by distinguished scholars and scientists at events like conferences, summer schools, workshops and science promotional events. The portal is aimed at promoting science, exchanging ideas and fostering knowledge sharing by providing high quality didactic contents not only to a scientific community but also to a general public.

Enjoy the great lectures they provide. Also see the Curious Cat directory of science and engineering webcast web sites. There are lots of great presentations available now. The last several years has really seen a huge increase in the valuable webcasts available online.

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Engineer Tried to Save His Sister and Invented a Breakthrough Medical Device

Here is another remarkable example of the great benefit engineers provide society.

How a software engineer tried to save his sister and invented a breakthrough medical device

I wanted to help my sister as much as I could. I went to Medline, where there are hundreds of thousands of documents describing clinical studies, to see what I could find.

There are billions of dollars spent every year on clinical studies. I was surprised to discover that there were sometimes clinical studies of treatments for which there were no clinical applications. The trials would show successful results but no clinical applications.

I found a 1987 Italian funded set of clinical studies that showed successful treatment of tumors by the application of chemotherapy directly into the tumors. But I could find nothing since then.

It took us two years to do the engineering. And it has taken the FDA seven years and two months to approve the product for sale. We were able to shorten the FDA process a little by saying that it was similar to other devices that had already been approved.

Great stuff.

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Appropriate Technology: Solar Water in Poor Cairo Neighborhoods

Cairo Slums Get Energy Makeover

Since 2003 the nonprofit Solar CITIES project has installed 34 solar-powered hot water systems and 5 biogas reactors in Cairo’s poor Coptic Christian and Islamic neighborhoods.

Solar CITIES’ hot water systems are constructed from recycled materials and are uniquely tailored to the parts of a city where water and electricity availability are often sporadic. “The problem with professional solar hot water systems is that they’re made for cities with continuous water,” Culhane said. By contrast, Solar CITIES’s water heaters use a city’s water when it’s available but draw from a backup storage tank when it’s not.

The setup consists of an insulated rectangular box covered in clear glass or plastic on one side. Inside the box are copper tubes wrapped in sheets of aluminum, which are painted black. Sunlight striking the darkened aluminum is converted to heat, which is then used to warm water flowing through the pipes. The glass sheet on top of the box prevents the heat from being carried away by wind.

Solar CITIES also installs biogas reactors, which are based on designs Culhane saw while working in India. The reactors use microbes harvested from animal guts to break down food wastes into flammable gas that can be used for cooking and heating. If necessary, the reactors can draw hot water from the solar water heaters to maintain the warm temperatures the bacteria need to survive.

By attaching a simple plastic tube to the reactors, gas can be piped down several stories for residents to use. “In 24 hours, you’ve got 2 hours of cooking gas from yesterday’s cooking garbage,” Culhane said. The biogas reactors provide a more reliable supply of cooking gas than most residents currently have.

Awesome, I love to see people using engineering to make life better for those that can truly use help.

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How a Differential Gear Works

Very nice webcast (of an old 1930’s filmstrip by GM) explaining how a differential gear works.

Related: how things workA Journey Into the Human EyeScience Explained: What The Heck is a Virus?Magenta is a Color

Home Engineering: Building a Hovercraft

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Google Wave Developer Preview Webcast

Google Wave is a new tool for communication and collaboration on the web, coming later this year. The presentation was given at Google I/O 2009. The demo shows what is possible in a HTML 5 browser. They are developing this as an open access project. The creative team is lead by the creators for Google Maps (brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen) and product manager Stephanie Hannon.

A wave is equal parts conversation and document. People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

A wave is shared. Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when.

A wave is live. With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.

Very cool stuff. The super easy blog interaction is great. And the user experience with notification and collaborative editing seems excellent. The playback feature to view changes seems good though that is still an area I worry about on heavily collaborative work. Hopefully they let you see like all change x person made, search changes…

They also have a very cool context sensitive spell checker that can highlight mis-spelled words that are another dictionary word but not right in the context used (about 44:30 in the webcast).

For software developer readers they also highly recommended the Google Web Development Kit, which they used heavily on this project.

Related: Joel Spolsky Webcast on Creating Social Web ResourcesRead the Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog in 35 LanguagesLarry Page and Sergey Brin Interview WebcastGoogle Should Stay True to Their Management Practices

Went Walkabout. Brought back Google Wave.
Continue reading

Engineering TV

Engineering TV offers some nice videos. The site needs more content and some better usability (almost no webcasts are returned on clicking the tags – though they can be found by searching, videos play with sound automatically (without user approval), the ad sounds are way too loud…) but it is another site that might provide some interesting webcasts. I am still most hopeful about SciVee (based on the tie to PLoS) – though the progress has been slow so far.

Related: doFlick Engineering Instructional WebcastsScience and Engineering Webcast LibrariesGoogle Tech Webcasts #3

Transferring Train Passengers Without Stopping

The webcast shows a train transferring passengers without stopping. Essentially passenger modules are picked up and dropped off at each station. Looks pretty cool and would seem to require somewhat complex engineering – which can be a problem as complexity allows for more things to go wrong. Still it looks pretty cool. The sound is not in English but you can see what the idea is.

Inventor rolls out efficient non-stop train system

Taking the Kaohsiung MRT system as an example, Peng says that its maximum speed is 85 kph. Because it must stop at every station, it achieves an average speed over its route of just 35 kph. If the non-stop system were in place, the top velocity of 85 kph could be maintained throughout the system, saving time and energy.

via: trains that pick you up without stopping

Related: Extreme EngineeringMIT Hosts Student Vehicle Design SummitDesigning Cities for People, Rather than Cars

UC-Berkeley Course Videos now on YouTube

About a year ago I posted that UC-Berkeley Course Videos were available on Google Video. Well now the
Berkeley YouTube site includes even more videos of Berkeley lectures. They include those listed on Google Video that I mentioned last year such as Physics for Future Presidents and Search Engines (by Sergey Brin) and more.

They currently have 201 videos posted. Hopefully they will add many more.

Does anyone else have the annoying delay on pages with YouTube videos? My entire browser locks up for probably 15 seconds on average now for any page that has an embedded YouTube video (not always but very often now). I find this very annoying.

Related: Science and Engineering Webcast DirectoryMore Great Webcasts: Nanotech and moreGoogle Technology Talks

Berkeley and MIT courses online

Huge amount of University of California Berkely webcasts of course lectures. Subscribe to RSS feeds and listen to podcasts or listen online.

Courses include: General Biology, Solid State Devices and Introductory Physics. Course websites include handouts for the lectures.

A great open access resource.

I can’t believe I have mentioned MIT open courseware before but a search didn’t find anything. MIT’s effort is an excellent resource, many on science and engineering: Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Materials Science and Engineering, etc..

MIT also includes the excellent: Visualizing Cultures – a gateway to seeing history through images that once had wide circulation among peoples of different times and places by John Dower (author of National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winning: Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II) and Shigeru Miyagawa.

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