"materials science" entries

Four short links: 17 February 2016

Four short links: 17 February 2016

0G Gecko Grippers, Self-Parking Chairs, Willow Garage, and Death by Optimistic Algorithm Assessment

  1. Grasping with Gecko Grippers in Zero Gravity (YouTube) — biomimetic materials science breakthrough from Stanford’s Biomimetics and Dexterous Manipulation Lab proves useful in space. (via IEEE Spectrum)
  2. Nissan’s Self-Parking Office Chairs — clever hack, but thought-provoking: will we have an auto-navigating office chair before the self-driving auto revolution arrives? Because, you know, my day isn’t sedentary enough as it is …
  3. The Man Behind the Robot Revolution — profile of the man behind Willow Garage. Why he and it are interesting: Although the now defunct research-lab-startup hybrid might not ring any bells to you now, it was one of the most influential forces in modern robotics. The freewheeling robot collective jump-started the current race to apply robotics components like computer vision, manipulation, and autonomy into applications for everything from drones and autonomous cars to warehouse operations at places like Google, Amazon, and car companies like BMW. Google alone acquired three of the robot companies spawned by Willow.
  4. NSA’s Lousy Evaluation of Drone Strike Algorithm Effectiveness (Ars Technica) — vastly overstating the quality of the predictions. The 0.008% false positive rate would be remarkably low for traditional business applications. This kind of rate is acceptable where the consequences are displaying an ad to the wrong person, or charging someone a premium price by accident. However, even 0.008% of the Pakistani population still corresponds to 15,000 people potentially being misclassified as “terrorists” and targeted by the military—not to mention innocent bystanders or first responders who happen to get in the way. Security guru Bruce Schneier agreed. “Government uses of big data are inherently different from corporate uses,” he told Ars. “The accuracy requirements mean that the same technology doesn’t work. If Google makes a mistake, people see an ad for a car they don’t want to buy. If the government makes a mistake, they kill innocents.” (via Cory Doctorow)
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Four short links: 4 January 2016

Four short links: 4 January 2016

How to Hire, Real World Distributed Systems, 3D-Printed Ceramics, and Approximate Spreadsheets

  1. How to Hire (Henry Ward) — this isn’t holy writ for everyone, but the clear way in which he lays out how he thinks about hiring should be a model to all managers, even those who disagree with his specific recommendations.
  2. From the Ground Up: Reasoning About Distributed Systems in the Real World (Tyler Treat) — When we try to provide semantics like guaranteed, exactly-once, and ordered message delivery, we usually end up with something that’s over-engineered, difficult to deploy and operate, fragile, and slow. What is the upside to all of this? Something that makes your life easier as a developer when things go perfectly well, but the reality is things don’t go perfectly well most of the time. Instead, you end up getting paged at 1 a.m. trying to figure out why RabbitMQ told your monitoring everything is awesome while proceeding to take a dump in your front yard. An approachable argument for shifting some consistency checks to application layer so the infrastructure can be simpler.
  3. 3D Printed Ceramics to 1700°C (Ars Technica) — The key step used in the new work is to replace the standard polymers used to create ceramics with a chemical that polymerizes when exposed to UV light. (These can have a variety of chemistries; the authors list thiol, vinyl, acrylate, methacrylate, and epoxy groups.) This means they’re able to be polymerized using a fairly standard 3D printer setup. In fact, the paper lists the model number of the version the authors bought from a different company.
  4. Guesstimatespreadsheet for things that aren’t certain.
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Four short links: 26 August 2015

Four short links: 26 August 2015

World SF, Digital Currency Scholarships, Project Management, and Glass 3D Printing

  1. The Apex Book of World SF 4 (Amazon) — if SF invents the future by shaping and directing our imagination, and if you believe that non-American cultures will ascend over time, then it behooves you to sample this collection of SF from beyond the usual. (via Cory Doctorow)
  2. Diversity Scholarships Available — to Digital Consensus 2015, a conference on digital currency. Apply or tell someone who is eligible.
  3. Making Huge Projects Work (Amy Hoy) — the description of her workflow for modest and monster projects was useful to me, and may be to you as well. I think the real question is “where do we get an Alex of our own?” [Note: swearing]
  4. Additive Manufacturing of Optically Transparent Glass (PDF) — yes, a 3D printer that emits glass. Check out the videos on IFL Science.
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What happens when fashion meets data: The O’Reilly Radar Podcast

Liza Kindred on the evolving role of data in fashion and the growing relationship between tech and fashion companies.

Editor’s note: you can subscribe to the O’Reilly Radar Podcast through iTunes, SoundCloud, or directly through our podcast’s RSS feed.

In this podcast episode, I talk with Liza Kindred, founder of Third Wave Fashion and author of the new free report “Fashioning Data: How fashion industry leaders innovate with data and what you can learn from what they know.” Kindred addresses the evolving role data and analytics are playing in the fashion industry, and the emerging connections between technology and fashion companies. “One of the things that fashion is doing better than maybe any other industry,” Kindred says, “is facilitating conversations with users.”

Gathering and analyzing user data creates opportunities for the fashion and tech industries alike. One example of this is the trend toward customization. Read more…

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Four short links: 25 September 2014

Four short links: 25 September 2014

Elevation Data, Soft Robots, Clean Data, and Security Souk

  1. NGA Releases Hi-Res Elevation Data — 30-meter topographic data for the world.
  2. Soft Roboticsa collection of shared resources to support the design, fabrication, modeling, characterization, and control of soft robotic devices. From Harvard.
  3. OpenGovIn many domains, it’s not so much about “big data” yet as it is about “clean data.”
  4. Mitnick’s Zero-Day Exploit Shop — marketplace connecting “corporate and government” buyers and sellers of zero-day exploits. Claims to vet buyers. Another hidden economy becoming public.
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Four short links: 29 January 2014

Four short links: 29 January 2014

Throwable Sensor, 3D Printer Patents, Internet Inequality, and Carbon Fiber Printing

  1. Bounce Explorer — throwable sensor (video, CO2, etc) for first responders.
  2. Sintering Patent Expires Today — key patent expires, though there are others in the field. Sintering is where the printer fuses powder with a laser, which produces smooth surfaces and works for ceramics and other materials beyond plastic. Hope is that sintering printers will see same massive growth that FDM (current tech) printers saw after the FDM patent expired 5 years ago.
  3. Internet is the Greatest Legal Facilitator of Inequality in Human History (The Atlantic) — hyperbole aside, this piece does a good job of outlining “why they hate us” and what the systemic challenges are.
  4. First Carbon Fiber 3D Printer Announced — $5000 price tag. Nice!
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Four short links: 15 February 2012

Four short links: 15 February 2012

DNS Benchmarking, Intro to Macroeconomics, Materials-Sensing Cameras, and 3D Printing Lab Messed Around

  1. Namebench (Google Code) — hunts down the fastest DNS servers for your computer to use. (via Nelson Minar)
  2. Primer on Macroeconomics (Jig) — reading suggestions for introductions to macroeconomics suitable to understand the financial crisis and proposed solutions. (via Tim O’Reilly)
  3. Smarter Cameras Plumb CompositionA new type of smarter camera can take a picture but also assess the chemical composition of the objects being imaged. This enables automated inspection systems to discern details that would be missed by conventional cameras. Interesting how cameras are getting smarter: Kinect as other significant case in point. (via Slashdot)
  4. Not So Open — 3D printing lab at the University of Washington had to stop helping outsiders because of a crazy new IP policy from the university administration. These folks were doing amazing work, developing and sharing recipes for new materials to print with (iced tea, rice flour, and more) (via BoingBoing)
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Four short links: 28 April 2010

Four short links: 28 April 2010

Fair Use Economy, Deconstituted Appliances, 3D Vision, Redis for Fun and Profit

  1. Fair Use in the US Economy (PDF) — prepared by IT lobby in the US, it’s the counterpart to Big ©’s fictitious billions of dollars of losses due to file sharing. Take each with a grain of salt, but this is interesting because it talks about the industries and businesses that the fair use laws make possible.
  2. Disassembled Household Appliances — neat photos of the pieces in common equipment like waffle irons, sandwich makers, can openers, etc. (via evilmadscientist)
  3. GelSight — gel block on a sheet of glass, lit from below with lights and then scanned with cameras, lets you easily capture 3D qualities of the objects pressed into it. Very cool demo–you can see finger prints, pulse, and even make out designs on a $100 bill.
  4. Redis Tutorial (Simon Willison) — Redis is a very fast collection of useful behaviours wrapped around a distributed key-value store. You get locks, IDs, counters, sets, lists, queues, replication, and more.
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Four short links: 25 December 2009

Four short links: 25 December 2009

Spam Holidays, Best Visualizations, Six Degrees of Documentary, and Nano Christmas!

  1. One Billionth Spam Message Stats — from the honeypot project comes a pile of stats about which countries spam, what they spam for, when they spam, etc. One intriguing insight our data provides is that bad guys take vacations too. For example, there is a 21% decrease in spam on Christmas Day and a 32% decrease on New Year’s Day. Monday is the biggest day of the week for spam, while Saturday receives only about 60% of the volume of Monday’s messages. Enjoy your day off spam. (via Bruce Schneier)
  2. Flowing Data’s Five Best Data Visualization Projects of 2009 — I think I listed at least four of these in this year’s Four Short Links. You’re welcome!
  3. Six Degrees of Separation — tiring of “Sound of Music”? This BBC documentary on the science of social connection may help.
  4. Nanoscale SnowmenThe snowman is 10 µm across, 1/5th the width of a human hair.. (via BoingBoing)
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Four short links: 30 September 2009

Four short links: 30 September 2009

Smart Materials, Google OCR API, Teaching Webinar, HistEx

  1. Smart Materials in ArchitectureUsing thermal bimetals can allow architects to experiment with shape-changing buildings, Ritter said. Thermal bimetals include a combination of materials with different expansion coefficients that can cause a change in. Under changing temperatures this can lead one side of a compound to bend more than the other side, potentially creating an entirely different shape, he said. A little impractical at the moment, but think of it as hackers experimenting with what’s possible, iterating to find the fit between materials possibility and customer need. (via Liminal Existence)
  2. Google OCR APIThe server will attempt to extract the text from the images; creating a new Google Doc for each image. Experimental at this stage, and early users report periodic crashes. Still, it’s a useful service. I wonder whether they’re seeing how people correct the scan text and using that to train the OCR algorithms. (via Waxy)
  3. My O’Reilly Podcast: Dan Meyer — I’m not pimping this because it’s O’Reilly (O’R do heaps of stuff I don’t mention) but because it’s the astonishingly brilliant Dan Meyer. For everything it does well, the US model of math education conditions students to anticipate narrowly defined problems with narrowly prescribed solutions. This puts them in no place to anticipate the ambiguous, broadly defined, problems they’ll need to solve after graduation, as citizens. This webcast will define two contributing factors to this intellectual impatience and then suggest a solution.
  4. Inflation Conversion Factors for Dollars 1774 to Estimated 2019 — in PDF and Excel format. I’ve wanted such a table in the past for answering those inevitable “… in today’s dollars?” historical business questions. (via Schuyler on Delicious)
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