Published on 8 Nov 2013
You’ve seen the videos of those astronauts on the International Space Station getting suited and booted in a spacesuit before a spacewalk, but how exactly does the space suit work?
A spacesuit has to protect you from the glaring radiation from the sun as well as keeping you warm from the extreme cold of outer space. As well as that is has to make sure you have enough oxygen and enough movement so you can actually do your job.
It also has to be pressurised to about 4.7PSI. Otherwise the empty vacuum of outer space will make your organs increase to twice their normal size and you will meet a very unpleasant untimely death.
Don’t fancy building your own spacesuit, why not build an elevator into space? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=annVRxRjj4c&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PLMrtJn-MOYmeNkbYzXsEluioufGDxuqtO
Martin Archer has all the information you need on when humans will be able to go to Mars http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYthxj-bO0I&list=PLMrtJn-MOYme6klSjJXoZfWmNZ6ZthOSA&index=12
April 21, 2017
April 13, 2017
Published on 31 Mar 2017
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April 11, 2017
At Samizdata, Brian Micklethwait attempts to look at the newly announced blackest black ever, Vantablack:
In the event that you have somehow managed to miss this story, you can get some idea of how very black Vantablack is by pondering this image, of a mask, together with the same mask covered in the liquid version of Vantablack. The Vantablacked version of the mask might as well be a flat piece of cardboard for all the 3-D shape detail you are able to discern by looking at it. You’d need to be a bat to make sense of it:
That image is to be found at a British Museum posting entitled Vantablack is the new black. I googled that gag, confident that someone would already have used it as a heading, and so it proved.
If you are the kind that blames capitalism for causing poverty (instead of praising capitalism for getting rid of poverty, the way I do and you should) then perhaps you will say that Vantablack proves how frivolous capitalism is, making black even blacker when there is still so much misery in the world. If you believe that universities should get more government money (Vantablack emerged from the University of Surrey), well then, you’ll say that Vantablack proves that universities should get more government money. If you are an anti-Trumpist or an anti-Brexiteer, you will regard the Vantablack story as proof that we really are living in uniquely dark times. If you are the kind of commenter here whose reaction to any new-tech fuss we report is that it is a fuss about nothing, or perhaps if you are the sort who wants to make fun of such grumpiness, you will perhaps even now be contriving a comment that includes the words: nothing to see here.
April 6, 2017
Published on 5 Apr 2017
This week, Antony and James break down Bill Gates’ recent suggestion that companies that use robots instead of human workers should pay employment taxes in order to fund new welfare programs.
April 5, 2017
Published on 31 Jan 2017
March 28, 2017
Published on 20 Mar 2015
The third in a series of short films about some of the vehicles in our collection presented by The Tank Museum’s historian David Fletcher MBE.
In 1923 Vickers Ltd. of Sheffield and Newcastle, started to manufacture tanks for the British Army. They were the first representatives of a new generation of tanks, designed to fight on the move and restore mobility to the battlefield.
As designed the Medium tanks had a 3 pounder gun in the turret; a Vickers machine-gun in each side of the hull and Hotchkiss light machine-guns in the turret. These last were later eliminated in favour of a single Vickers machine-gun, mounted alongside the main gun and described as co-axial, since it elevates on the same axis as the main gun. This modification altered the design from Mark II to Mark II*. Using these tanks the Royal Tank Corps established standards of gunnery which, in their day, were never equalled.
March 19, 2017
Published on 27 Feb 2015
The desire to record the human voice can be traced back to the 10th century. Thomas Edison is the first man who finally crafted the phonograph, a machine that can record sound. A few more GREAT MINDS are necessary to improve the technology until the first record made of shellac is produced. Emile Berliner, the inventor of the gramophone, is the reason why record lovers still listen to vinyl LPs to this day! This is the first part of our small series about the invention of sound recording.
March 14, 2017
Published on 13 Mar 2017
Biohackers, much like their computer hacker forebears, prefer asking for forgiveness rather than permission.
March 12, 2017
Published on 26 Feb 2015
The Industrial Revolution transformed and shaped our modern world as we know it. Why did the fundamental changes of the Industrial Revolution begin in Great Britain? In our first episode about the era of Industrial Revolution, Brett explains how the agricultural revolution, a few inventions in the textile industry, the steam machine, improving means of transport and an overall changing society created a solid basis for the coming changes of the late 18th century.
March 10, 2017
Americans of a certain social class love nothing more than an “authentic” food experience. It is the highest praise that they can heap on a restaurant. The ideal food is one that was perfected by honest local peasants in some picturesque locale, then served the same way for centuries, the traditions passed down from mother to daughter (less occasionally, from father to son), with stern admonitions not to dishonor their ancestry by making it wrong.
These American diners are constantly in a quest for their own lost heritage, along with the traditions of other peoples they don’t know very well. We live, the lore says, in a fallen state, victims of Big Agriculture and a food industry that has rendered everything bland, fatty and sweet. By tapping the traditions of centuries past — or other, poorer places — we can regain the paradise that our grandparents unaccountably abandoned.
And who could be against wanting a more authentic, genuine food experience? I’m so glad you asked.
In fact, authenticity is an illusion, and a highly overrated one. Most of the foods we think of as “authentic” are of relatively recent vintage — since capsaicin-containing hot peppers are native to the Americas, any spicy cuisine like Szechuan or Thai is by definition a Johnny-come-lately invention. Or take artisanal breads, like that crusty, moist peasant bread that most of us eat too much of at restaurants: Nathan Myhrvold, the mad genius of the cookbook world, says that this is a new invention. Our peasant ancestors, who got a large portion of their calories from bread, did not make these richly hydrated doughs, because they’re a pain in the butt to work with. Ciabatta, another bread that America likes because it sounds very authentic, was invented in the 1980s to compete with the baguette. (Itself a product of Industrial Revolution bakeries, not the proud local peasant.)
Megan McArdle, “‘Authentic’ Food Is Not What You Think It Is”, Bloomberg View, 2017-02-24.
March 4, 2017
Published on 20 Feb 2015
Welcome to IT’S HISTORY! We are kicking off this new history channel by taking you on a journey through the Industrial Revolution. In our first episode about INVENTIONS, Brad Explains everything about the history of the light bulb – it was a long way from the discovery of fire till the first electrical lightning. Learn who else, besides Thomas Alva Edison and Nikola Tesla helped form the technology that illuminates our nights to this day!
February 21, 2017
Published on 20 Feb 2017
Some sources say that during the four years of World War 1, medicine and medical treatments advances more than during any other four year period in human history. The chances for a soldier to survive his injury were far greater in 1918 than in 1914.
February 14, 2017
Published on 13 Feb 2017
Filmed at Romagne 14-18 museum: http://romagne14-18.com
Plastic and reconstructive surgery saw rapid development during World War 1. Modern medical care and better equipment increased the chances of survival for the soldiers. But these survivors were often disfigured or lost limbs as a result. To help them return to a somewhat normal life, reconstructive surgeons developed methods to restore their faces and aided them with prosthetics.
January 25, 2017
New and improved fabric technologies haven’t attracted public enthusiasm since the backlash against leisure suits and disco shirts made synthetics declassé in the early 1980s. ‘Pity poor polyester. People pick on it,’ wrote The Wall Street Journal’s Ronald Alsop in 1982, describing DuPont’s efforts to rehabilitate the fibre’s image.
What ended the consumer hatred of polyester wasn’t a marketing campaign. It was a quiet series of technical innovations: the development of microfibres. These are synthetics, most often polyester or nylon, that are thinner than silk and incredibly soft, as well as lightweight, strong, washable and quick-drying. Their shapes can be engineered to control how water vapour and heat pass through the fabric or to create microcapsules to add sunscreen, antimicrobial agents or insect repellent. Over the past decade, microfibres have become ubiquitous; they’re found in everything from wickable workout wear to supersoft plush toys.
Microfibres are one reason the ‘air-conditioned’ fabrics Loewy and his fellow designers foresaw in 1939 have finally come to pass. These fabrics just aren’t promoted in the pages of Vogue or highlighted on the racks at Banana Republic. They don’t attract attention during New York Fashion Week. Their tribe gathers instead at the big Outdoor Retailer trade shows held twice a year in Salt Lake City. There, outdoor-apparel makers and their suppliers tout textiles that keep wearers warm in the cold and cool in the heat; that block raindrops but allow sweat to escape; that repel insects, screen out UV rays and control odour. By establishing that truly weather-resistant fabrics were possible, Gore-Tex (first sold in 1976) and Polartec synthetic fleece (1979) created an industry where engineers now vie to find ever-better ways to conquer the elements. For instance, ‘smart textiles’ originally developed for spacesuits use microencapsulated materials that melt when they get hot, keeping wearers comfortable by absorbing body heat; when temperatures fall, the materials solidify and warm the body.
Looking forward, academic researchers have bigger things in mind. Noting that ‘a large portion of energy continues to be wasted on heating empty space and non‑human objects,’ the materials scientist Yi Cui and his colleagues at Stanford envision replacing central heating systems with ‘personal thermal management’, using breathable fabrics coated in a solution of silver nanowires. The fabrics not only trap body heat: given an imperceptible bit of electric charge, they can actually warm the skin.
Other scientists are looking at ways to make fabric turn body heat or motion into usable energy for low-powered electronics. And some hope to make the temperature-regulating effects of smart textiles work without liquids, whose microencapsulation requires substantial energy use. Shifting the focus from outdoor leisure to indoor life – from fighting the elements to everyday energy use and climate control – dramatically reframes several decades of fabric advances, making textiles part of a larger story about energy and the environment.
January 23, 2017
Published on 13 Oct 2015
Covering some of the same territory is my post on British battleship design from the end of the Napoleonic era to the 1880s.