Tech Tuesday 4/24/18 – Post-Phoenix Edition

Back from Arizona. We got a lease signed for a house out in NE Scottsdale (right on the edge of civilization – trail-heads into the mountains are just 4 blocks away). Now I just need to get my house ready to rent and find a tenant.

Tech Tuesday 4/24/18 - Post-Phoenix Edition


AERO01 – The first ‘luxury’ space hotel, opening in 4 years!  Ambitious, but I’m not holding my breath for it.

AERO02 – I like the idea, but if airlines are having trouble getting people to pay for upgraded class seating, who’s going to pay for this besides people wealthy enough to afford a private plane?

AERO03 – The SABRE engine, which I’ve linked to before, is getting a boost from Boeing.

AERO04 – Pod transportation from ground to air to ground.


BIO01 – The greatest discoveries in science are often not heralded by an exclamation of “Eureka!”.  But rather, a quiet, “Huh, that’s unexpected…”

BIO02 – Oh yeah, mother nature knows how to play the GMO game.  She takes a bit longer, but she’s had eons more experience doing it.

BIO03 – Of course, just because she’s been doing it longer, doesn’t mean we are going to go gentle into that good night.

BIO04 – Unlike the plastic critter, they were looking for this guy.

BIO05 – A male contraceptive that just stops the swimmers from swimming.


ERG01 – A thermal battery stores energy as heat.  You’ve probably heard about them in relation to storing wind and solar power in molten salts.  You can also use them for less stationary applications.

ERG02 – This isn’t just a handy idea for electronics.  I expect we’ll see this in space craft in short order, since handling waste heat in space is always a headache.

ERG03 – Speaking of waste heat on space craft. engineers are testing out a system with no moving parts for moving heat around a space craft.


ENV01 – This strikes me as a long winded way to say that design should fully include a plan for the ‘end of life’ of a product that includes how to recycle it back into the resource stream.

ENV02Looking to the past for how to handle flooding in the future.

ENV03 – Ten teams advance to the final round for the Carbon X-Prize.  Plus an interview with one of the X-prize officials.


MAT01 – Leveraging rust to protect against rust. (I’m using rust as a generic term here, you pedantic types)

MAT02 – A new, durable omniphobic coating repels every damn liquid.  Also, from the looks of that image, it might be transparent enough to be used for a windshield.

MAT03 – Adding sawdust to concrete to make it stronger and more watertight.  Yes, there is an intermediate step.

MAT04 – Ah, caffeine, you wake me up, you catalyze my drugs

MAT05 – Rolling out graphene at industrial rates.


SCI01 – We are starting to get less and less bang for our scientific research bucks.  There is a lot of meat in those two short articles.  One that I’ve commented on before is Innovation Veneration, which I see as causing us to delay implementing new technology to tackle large scale problems, because as soon as the new tech is almost ready, there is one (or more) competing ideas that promise to be ready in just a few years, so planners hold off on implementing new technology because they don’t every want to be seen as missing the boat on something.


TECH01 – Gives a whole new dimension to the idea of a letter bomb.  As an aside, there has long been a quest by the military to be able to manufacture and deploy caseless ammunition for soldiers.  That is a cartridge where the case that contains the projectile and the propellant is somehow lightweight and wholly disposable.  Some versions that have been tried have a case made of something akin to flash paper (very flammable) so the case is entirely consumed when the firearm is fired, or where the case itself is the propellant.  Previous attempts have resulted in ammunition that quickly fouls the weapon, or ammunition that is highly sensitive to the environment and quick to degrade in the wrong ones.  This could offer up ways to use novel propellants and mix them with stabilizers to open up a new avenue for caseless development.

TECH02 – You got light in my integrated circuit!  You got electrons in my fiber optics!  Oh, wait, this is good!

TECH03 – Storage for ALL THE PORN IN THE WORLD!  On a dinner plate.  Ok, that’s an exaggeration, we’d need at least a full dinner set for all the porn.

TECH04 – Bio inspired gecko grippers for soft robots.

TECH05 – While arguably better for society as a whole, Robo-FireFighter just doesn’t roll off the tongue as well as RoboCop, and I’m not sure the box office numbers will do it justice.

TECH06 – It’s even stronger than the last one, but it still suffers from response times that would only make a snail proud.

Weird, Wacky, and Wonderful

WWW01 – Braille has some competition.

WWW02 – The house with the annual energy bill of $90.  No word yet on how much it cost to build it.

Photo by tvdflickr Tech Tuesday 4/24/18 - Post-Phoenix Edition


A Navy Turbine Tech who learned to spin wrenches on old cars, Oscar has since been trained as an Engineer & Software Developer & now writes tools for other engineers. When not in his shop or at work, he can be found spending time with his family, gardening, hiking, kayaking, gaming, or whatever strikes his fancy & fits in the budget. ...more →

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13 thoughts on “Tech Tuesday 4/24/18 – Post-Phoenix Edition

  1. ENV02: “If a solution were possible, it could prompt a government department to commission a study to investigate such possible solutions.”

    Possibly. Possibly not.

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  2. Aero2 – are they having trouble finding people who will pay for upgrades? (Either through cash or loyalty?) I’ve only been on a few long haul international flights in my life, but it always seemed to me that the ‘business’ class* was always filled up. This seems to augment that class and price point.

    *i.e. whatever you want to call the tier between ‘extra legroom economy’ and ‘super deluxe Jennifer Anniston on Emirates’

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    • Usually the cost between coach and a bit extra legroom is significantly less than the cost of coach fare, whereas upgrading to first class can cost you, what, 2x-3x as much as a coach fare, or more?

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    • I actually ended up discussing SCI01 with a friend separately, who unlike me is a scientist (research Neurologist) that I like to discuss such things with, so I’ll condense a few of his comments for the group:

      Good stuff. I would agree that there is just too much to know in any given field, so more specialization and more researchers are needed to advance a given branch of science further.
      In my field, we know so little that I disagree about advances being less but I lament the slow progress. We get eager for treatments and we need money to address this but we also need more funding for basic science – such as understanding Alzheimer’s dx. This unfortunately does not profit well directly – “priceless.”

      This chunk from part 2 generated caused me to flag for later reading/research:

      The throw money at it tendency. Many companies have responded to competition by “adding human resources and other resources to R&D,” the authors note. They add that there may be “a bias in large companies to equate professional success with the size of one’s budget.”
      Investors and managers are now questioning the throw money at it tendency and seeking to slash R&D costs, according to Scannell et al. They add: “The risk, however, is that the lack of understanding of factors affecting return on R&D investment that contributed to relatively indiscriminate spending during the good times could mean that cost-cutting is similarly indiscriminate. Costs may go down, without resulting in a substantial increase in efficiency.”

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    • Okay…

      SCI01: Unsurprising, to anyone who has been paying attention. The interesting parts of material science requires access to IC-style fab lines running from tens to hundreds of millions. Systematic astronomy requires scopes running to billions of dollars (Weber). Experimental physics platforms run tens of billions (CERN, ITER). The exceptions are in biologic sciences, where CRISPR and other tools are making it cheap to do stuff that used to be hideously expensive. Yes, I”m ignoring leading-edge engineering, eg, AERO03.

      TECH01: If you can dissolve it in a solvent that can be removed, or converted to an inert solid by some means that doesn’t mess with the active ingredients — evaporation, thermal setting, UV curing, etc — someone will 3D-print it. Caseless ammo is always going to be tricky. Not to mention that the obvious place where the weight savings is most valuable — aircraft — is rapidly reaching the point where cannons are a second- or third-order consideration. Apaches and F-35s are missile platforms, not gun platforms. (F-35 software was going to include the ability to actually fire the cannon in approx 2020; until the press made that an embarrassment, none of the Air Force, Navy, or Marines cared particularly.)

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      • Caseless is only really important to soldiers. Ships and tanks don’t care too much*, and for aircraft, a gun on a modern fighter aircraft is like a knife to a soldier, except an aircraft gun is way bigger than a fighting knife.

        *And as soon as ships have the railguns working well enough, expect them to move to railguns, with tanks to follow as soon as it’s feasible.

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  3. I’ve read a handful of articles talking about the awful things happening to coral reefs, specifically “bleaching“.

    “That’s awful”, I thought and then didn’t think about it.

    In preparing for a VR game night with co-workers, I picked up a little “game” called “theBlu“. Ten bucks full price, I bought it on mega-sale.

    It’s not even a game, really. You’re just put down into one of three scenes in the ocean. In one, you’re in the deepest depths and you can watch an Anglerfish do some light hunting. (You’re given a flashlight that can let you look around your area but you don’t need it to be on to see the Anglerfish do its thing.) In another, you have an up-close-and-personal moment with a whale. In the last, you’re put smack dab in the middle of a coral reef as a bunch of fish migrate through. Interactivity is limited to fish not wanting to be touched and swimming away from your “hands” as you try to touch them.

    All of these were stunningly beautiful… but it was the coral reef one that made me say “oh” several times as I looked around.

    VR is potentially a tool to make people care, and care *VERY* deeply, about such things as bleaching. Show what the reef used to look like. Then show them what it looks like now. Then show them what it’s going to look like in 5, 10, 20 years if something isn’t done.

    This could be one hell of a powerful educational tool. Take people places they’d never ordinarily go and show them “this is what is happening” and then put out a call to action. You can make people care about a place they’ve seen and looked around in a way that you could never make them care about with mere words and, maybe, some high-quality photos.

    Who cares if the pictures are “real” and the VR is “fake”. Put the person in the middle of a migration and tell them that such migrations are threatened and see what happens.

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