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kottke.org posts about engineering

Mechanically stabilized sand

posted by Jason Kottke   May 17, 2016

If you’re clever, you can take normal sand or dirt and support really heavy things with it. Near the end of this video, a small block of reinforced sand holds up a car wheel with absolutely no difficulty.

And yes, the Practical Engineering YouTube channel is a new favorite. (via digg)

We Work Remotely

Conversation clock

posted by Ainsley Drew   Apr 01, 2009

Karrie Karahalios created a program that interprets conversations and generates real-time visual feedback. A social mirror of sorts.

The “clock” shows the progress of the talk. Three times a second, a color bar pops up showing who was speaking. The louder the speech, the longer the bar. Interruptions are shown as overlapping color bars. Every minute, a new circle of bars is rendered in a visual record akin to the rings of tree trunk.

Referred to as a “conversation clock,” it’s already been tested with kids with low-functioning autism, teaching them to vocalize. One speech specialist thinks it can help kids with Asperger’s, who tend to dominate conversations, learn not to “monologue” so much.

Marriage counselors are also using it to teach your husband how to shut up for five minutes.

Kenneth LeVay has invented a new type

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 20, 2005

Kenneth LeVay has invented a new type of screw (designed using computer modeling) which works even in concrete or plastic.

The Economist reports of the current state of biomimicry

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 14, 2005

The Economist reports of the current state of biomimicry. Includes information about “biological patents”, which I’d never heard of before.