Magnitude and Direction, Issue #36 | 28 Jun 2019

Hardware, Prototyping, and Fabrication

↩ This issue's hardware section is a special feature on flexures: moving, mechanical components and devices that are comprised of only one piece. How do you achieve this? By varying material cross-sectional area dramatically from one region to another, thereby creating regions of high compliance.

The result are the "8 P's" of flexures and compliant mechanisms:
1. Part count (reduced by having flexible parts instead of springs, hinges)
2. Productions processes (many, new, different enabled by compliant designs)
3. Price (reduced by fewer parts and different production processes)
4. Precise Motion (no backlash, less wear, friction)
5. Performance (no outgassing, doesn't require lubricant)
6. Proportions (reduced through different production processes)
7. Portability (lightweight due to simpler, reduced part count designs)
8. Predictability (devices are reliable over a long period of time) What does that look like, exactly? Check out this video that gives a breakdown of the kinds of things you can do with flexures. Once you've done that, check out this repository of designs for compliant mechanisms, free to download and use (3D printer required for at least some designs).

For this week's Moment of Inertia, I'll be talking more about flexures as well as the larger category of materials of which they are a part: mechanical metamaterials - objects of great personal fascination, as well as a crucial component of my PhD research.

Software and Programming

Steven Spielberg is writing a horror series that you can only watch at night - courtesy of the time and location data gathered from your device.

Adobe Research and UC Berkley have unveiled a tool that can detect photoshopped faces with 99% accuracy, leveraging the very same kind of machine learning approaches that made the faked faces in the first place.

"If GPS stopped working, it would cost the US economy $1 billion a day." Now consider how easily GPS can stop working: you don't even need a cyber attack, human negligence is more than enough.

Science, Engineering, and Biomedicine

⚗ People frequently like to throw around the term "chemical" when they really mean something more like "toxin". On the Mirra skincare blog, M&D regular (and CEO of See Thru) Lisa Guerrera breaks down how we got to this place as a society and how it impacts essentially every vertical of the beauty and wellness industry.

⚗ Turns out Google's been dedicating millions of dollars into cold fusion research over the past several years. As you might guess, the research has only returned negative results (which are still very important!) as well as some promising new materials science developments. (To my readers who aren't in academia, sorry the full article is paywalled. I'm kind of surprised Google wasn't generous enough to pay the extra money for an open access publication.)

Did you know that since the early 2000s we've known the average color of the universe? Did you know that it's an incredibly bland color called "Cosmic Latte"? Isn't that a special drink at Dunkin' Donuts right now??

Researchers at Brown University taught a robot to write in Japanese. Then, the robot looked at a bunch of other languages and figured out how to write in those two, all on its own.

If you left a modern building in an earthquake zone for over 1000 years, the odds are pretty good that it would collapse at some point due to an earthquake. The Colosseum, while it has been shaken up a few times due to earthquakes during its almost 2000-year life, is doing pretty well as far as buildings in earthquake zones go. This longevity may be due to the way its foundation was constructed, which has acted as a seismic "invisibility cloak", shielding it from the greatest dangers.

☠ From reader Adam Casson of Inscope Medical: Direct to Consumer startups abound these days and, in the pure consumer space, there have been several successes already. The same can't necessarily be said for healthcare. This article from AngelMD breaks down some reasons why.

Mapping, History, and Data Science

Two very interesting articles from The Verge in this edition of M&D about some industry-specific transformations being wrought by tech. The first: the prevalence of music streaming (and the business model that comes with it) is impacting the length of songs (and I don't mean post-recording edits).

Up next: Hollywood is starting to turn to AI/ML to help make movie casting and production decisions. Given the many egregious examples of algorithmic bias in the world of contemporary AI, I'm inclined to say this is not a good decision.

Check out the oldest recorded footage of a total solar eclipse, captured all the way back in 1900!

You might think New York has bad traffic but on TomTom's 2018 congestion report we didn't even make the top 40.

Events and Opportunities

Plenty of NYC's STEM-related meetups and get-togethers are still going strong...

  • Tuesday, 7/2 NYDesigns holds a special pre-July 4th edition of its Women in Tech after work happy hour. As always, Individuals who identify as female and men are welcome to attend, too.

  • DUE Monday, 7/8 Apply to The Bridge is a cross-disciplinary, collaborative, virtual residency program run by the SciArt group for artists, scientists, technologists, and creative professionals.

  • Tuesday, 7/9 The Life Sciences NYC meetup group hosts Michael J. Flanagan, PhD, Executive Director of Genspace for a discussion on community labs and their place in the wider biotech innovation landscape.

  • Tuesday, 7/9 The New York BioPharma Networking Group (aka NYPBNG) is back and holding their next meetup at Tir Na Nog.

  • Wednesday, 7/10 A bunch of groups I help run are getting together for Health Tech Connect's next meetup, which is being co-hosted by the Mount Sinai Innovators Group. It promises to be a great evening of networking and brainstorming.

  • Thursday, 7/11 The Nanotech NYC meetup gathers at Houston Hall for their next social event - always a great place to meet other people interested in or working with nanotechnology, plus a variety of other technical fields.

Some other upcoming events to keep on your radar...

  • Wednesday, 7/17 The Society for the Advancement of Social Studies has returned after a long hiatus (they were still involved in the Art History Happy Hours at the Brooklyn Museum, to be fair) and is back in a new home and with three great talks about Manhattan-themed history.

Map of the Month

➕➕➡ How many US counties does it take to get one NYC? Find out with this map.

Odds & Ends

MS Paint may be no more, but someone made a javascript app that replicates the interface and experience. I give you JS Paint.