Saturday, September 13, 2014

Gaining ground

A fellow scientist and colleague of mine, Matthew Bishop, has started a new non-profit organization to build a rapport between scientist and the general public. The Ask a Scientist organization seeks to answer questions about a wide range of fields and topics. You may find his site at httl://www.askascientist.co.
You can also find the organization on Facebook. Matthew recently presented at TEDx and the video is currently in post-processing. Be sure to see it once its ready to go.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Behold, Science: Part 1, Origins

     What do you imagine when you hear the word "science"? Perhaps to it conjures to mind images of a man with crazed hair and a lab coat looming over bubbling chemicals and building strange monsters. Or perhaps, you might recall something you've heard on the news about a recent study showing how your favorite food is bad for you (Actually, breathing too much oxygen will almost certainly give you cancer. Moderation is everything). Today I will write briefly regarding nature the origins of science.
     In its strictest sense science is a process and the philosophy build around it. It is a method for gathering knowledge and understanding about the world around us. This is why it's also called the scientific method. A "scientific solution" simply a solution developed from this process. Being a scientist means that you adhere to the process and, by consequence, philosophy of science. Fancy degrees are helpful should you seek to be a professional scientist, but they are not required to be a scientist.

     Science is not the only method of obtaining knowledge and understanding and it's certainly not the first. For thousands of years people from all over the globe have developed ways to understand and influence the world around them. We call them scientists today but they were not scientists by modern definitions. A more accurate label would be scholars. Notable scholars such as Archimedes,  Pythagoras, Hypatia and Hero of Alexandria, Shen Kuo, Liu Hui, Hassan Ibn Al-Haitham, Omar Khayyaam, Al-Khwarizmi are just a few of many whom contributed to proto-science. These indivuals made advances in medicine, astronomy, mathematics, navigation,and much more. Many of their methods for investingating the natural were later adopted into science.

     In the European Enlightenment Era of the 16th  and 17th centuries the old notions and teachings from Ancient Greece were called into question. Scholars such as Ole Roamer, Nicholas Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Johannes Kepler began making observations and calculations of the night sky. From this information they were able to describe with detail the heavens like no one else before. Galileo Galilei continued this work with the then newly invented telescope. Not satisfied with astronomy he conducted experiments in mechanics as well. Their contributions along with the changing philosophical climate paved the way for modern science.

     Science as we know it today comes from the philosophies of of two men Rene Decartes and Francis Bacon. Both men sought to apply reason and logic to the study of the natural world. Decartes favored the philosophy of deduction which concerns itself with applying general ideas  to specific situations. Bacon felt that induction was a better method. Induction means you use facts gained from specific situations to form general conclusions. You might think of it as intuition verses experience. Both philosophies are used together in modern science. In fact, to this day scientists are usually grouped by theorist and experimentalists. It is this combination of philosophical reason and study of the natural world that is the essence of science.
    

     Part 2, The Scientific Method...

Monday, June 17, 2013

One Down Four to Go

Over this past weekend I've designed, built, and tested my machine for the individual qualifiers. The goal of the qualifier is to move a pair of plastic bowling pins out of the designated zone. Sounds simple enough right? Well, fourteen hours and $56 dollars later I finally have my completed machine. The design features a car that rolls down an incline and transfers its momentum to the pins by impact, which is a fancy way of saying it crashes into the pins at the bottom of the ramp. The video below is a brief description of the machine and a demostration by your truly.


I reset and ran the machine again but this time I moved the ramp closer to the edge of the starting platform. The results were much more satisfactory than the first. One of the pins was knocked to the other side of the arena.


For the next trial I must design a build a device that will collect objects resting on the ledge there at the center of the arena. I believe I will add a four-bar lickage on top of the car and use the momentum of the controlled crash to fling some sort of gantry on the ledge.

Friday, June 7, 2013

ME 2110: Mechanical Engineering Bootcamp

This Summer I am investing my time in additional classes. What kind of class sounds so fun that sun and sun wait idle? The answer is ME2110. It is such simple name that one might not think twice after reading it. The same logic could be applied to H1N1 as well. ME2110 is the introduction to mechanical engineering and design. It is a twelve week program chalk full of engineering exercise. Here the students are taught methods and tools for conceptualizing and designing mechanical products. The epic climaxes with a competition between teams of students. They pit their custom designed robot against the odds and against each other. Below is a video created by the ME department and published on YouTube. This class demands much from its students, but truly rewards them with knowledge, experience, and lots of fun times.




 As of now there are eight weeks left in the program. In two weeks I must present to my class and  my instructors an autonomous machine. This machine must traverse a short distance and knock a pair of plastic bowling pins out of a designated zone. A new machine with a new function must be designed and built for every following week until the competition. I'm going to start taking my coffee intravenously now.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Forward the Torch: An Introduction

     Forward the Torch is a blog about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics... but mostly about science. More importantly, it's about popularizing these fields and bringing them to more people. Over the course of the next year I will post articles and videos. These articles and videos will cover a wide range of topics. I will include topics about late breaking and fascinating research or technology, stories and discussions in the life of a scientist, current issues, even some musings. Musings are, after all, what a blog is all about.

    
    
    

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Launching

     Forward the Torch is still launching. Come back soon.