Of Bicycle Seats and Standing spaces onboard an Airbus

The men who made us spend

I have thoroughly enjoyed “the men who made us spend” on BBC last week. Although, there are bits of it I would disagree with and thought Jacques Perreti was particularly selective about whom to aim his highest level of criticism. I expected a Jeremy Paxman type grilling from him when it came to his interview with the anti-aging millionaire gurus of LA with their expensive suits and gold watches but instead got a tame, cosy, Aunty Davina BB chat.

The iPhone being the biggest success story of this century was a major subject of the documentary – another in a long line of parodies, books and new articles. The thoroughly choreographed mass hysteria that every iPhone  release has caused is something that every profit making company now aims for. The iPod and iPhone as a consumer good was (or is still) revolutionary, yet the one thing that the documentary highlighted was that every other release after the original product has been nothing but the same product with a few extra features.

Crapitalism

There is no doubt that the ideology Michael Moore or Jacques Perreti was aiming at is Capitalism or Crapitalism as I prefer to refer to this particular version of it. The quote below from a review by Ed Power (Cool name !) of ‘The Telegraph should give you a flavour of what the documentary was about or rather against, Ed writes:

“Capitalism, he [Jacques Perreti] explained in his whispery voice, is a rigged roulette wheel presided over by faceless CEOs and supplicant politicians whose championing of “right-wing” economics and light touch regulation went hand in hand with boundless corporate avarice”.

I must however add that the reviewer above does not appear to think that Capitalism itself is to blame and I agree, the forces at work are much more complex than what a documentary can deal with but as with everything in this age there needed to be a selling point, this however does not render invalid, every criticism leveled at every Steve Job idolising CEO.

Bike Seat

Image courtesy of ‘Ray Sadler’ on Flickr

What does this have to do with Airbus?

Patents and Lawsuits go together like melodies and Harmony, they were once a source of security and protection for property - Intellectual Property - but not anymore. Companies have now realised how much of economic advantage it can offer and again Apple is the quintessential example. The news that Apple patented a device with “rounded corners” was pilloried all over the news as absurd yet the company was granted the patent albeit only in the U.S. So the news that Airbus have filed a patent for Aircraft seats that look awfully like common bicycle seats really should come as no surprise to anyone. This is in the same spirit as the ‘windowless cockpit’ patent that was announced quite recently as well. Continue reading

Airbus to sell CIMPA; the good and the bad

Good news ! Airbus plans to sell CIMPA. Bad news ! Airbus is selling CIMPA. The Company (CIMPA, a subsidiary of Airbus Group) deals primarily with Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) , helping companies centrally manage the complex process of product development and also the storage of product data. All of this is achieved mostly through the development of PLM software.

The old saying that goes – bad news is good news is true not only in the sense that the worst of Natural Disasters, Murders and undetected sexual crimes make the best headlines. It is also true that these bad news bring an amount of joy to a few individuals. Two examples (or one, if you take the second to be an implication of the other):

1. Hitler is defeated.
2. The war had ended.

If you’ve seen Nicolas Cage in Lord of War, you’ll know that, that second example will be very bad news to the ‘Yuri Orlov’ character he plays. He profits from war – mass killings of people, pestilence and perpetual chaos is good for business, but I’m not a moral relativist nor a Pacifist.

So, good news, Airbus is selling CIMPA, as it no longer sees the company as a strategic entity in its future operations, though it made it 100 million euros last year, in the future it might become a liability and no longer an asset, so it is a good idea to cash in while the going is good. CIMPA will be bought by someone who must see the company as a strategic asset, one man’s meat right. Not much else is known about why Airbus Group is selling. The 2 possible buyers as reported here are IRDI and ACE Management. Continue reading

An Engineering Career and Monetary Motivations

Pop culture references are essential to a blog post, so here’s one from the charts. Sam Smith sings in his hit – money on my mind, defiantly crooning about not letting financial gain come in the way of art for its own sake:

When I signed my deal / I felt pressure / Don’t want to see the numbers / I want to see heaven / You say could you/write a song for me… [Chorus] I don’t have Money on my mind/Money on my mind/I do it for the love

The artist is often presented as the unappreciated, lonely and single-minded in a pursuit of the pure, untainted artistry without the wrong motivations. Their products are not valuable because of what they do, a painting or song is not for the pragmatic nor ones who appeal to pure unadulterated reason, pure aesthetics and mathematics don’t make a great power couple – Kimye, Brangelina etc. The maths behind the useful might at times seem ugly, unless you belong to a Pythagorean cult.

In all of this, Van Gogh is the quintessential rep for the ‘Money on my mind’ mentality (I’d personally place a question mark on Sam Smith’s ‘starving’ credentials) All of these seems to now describe another profession which does not specialise in the beautiful as a forefront pursuit but the true and good, applied physics in service of pragmatic solutions. The Engineer is a dying breed, awfully in shortage or we’re made to believe they are almost every year. One of the issues is pay, money, dough, cheddar or whatever else kids nowadays call it. Continue reading

Pluto’s Moon & Its Ancient Ocean

The Moon. Charon has been named after the ferryman that delivers souls across the river Styx, while Pluto has been named after the God of the Underword itself - attributed to Greek mythology.

The Moon. Charon has been named after the ferryman that delivers souls across the river Styx, while Pluto has been named after the God of the Underword – attributed to Greek mythology.

Pluto is often known as the “dwarf planet” because of its tiny size, measuring at approximately one-sixth the mass and one-third the volume of the Moon. Composed mostly of rock and ice, its eccentric orbit helps it to come closer to the Sun than its neighbouring planet, Neptune.

Pluto was first discovered in 1930, recognized as the ninth planet, when counting from the Sun, however debate over its ascendency to a “major planet” status has been stringent ever since. Astronomers, some of them, believe that Pluto should attain its planet status along with all the other dwarf planets, as well as moons, discovered in recent years.

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Strooder, 3D Printing Revolution and the Innovative Nerd(s)

Where did all the Boffins go?

Francis Spufford writes about the British Boffins of yesteryear who weren’t seen, partly because they were socially awkward but mostly because their operations were secretive and only came to public attention years after. The results of their efforts were legendary - Concorde, Mobile Phone Technology, Human Genome Project, Beagle 2, Prospero satellite e.t.c. were all made by the so called Backroom Boys.

‘The backroom boys’ is a phrase from the 1940s. It’s what industrial-age Britain used to call the ingenious engineers who occupied the draughty buildings at the edge of factory grounds and invented the technologies of the future. Almost always, they were boys, or rather men: for historical reasons, but also because there is perhaps an affinity between the narrow-focused, wordless concentration required for engineering and a particular kind of male mind Continue reading

Engineering – bringing the sexy back

For my first blog post I think short and sweet is the way to go.

I’ve just found out that Engineering is getting popular in the main stream… and not from where you would expect.

As Engineers we love to talk about (you’ve guessed it!) Engineering, but we really like it when the mainstream start talking about Engineering too. It increases interest in what we do within the general population and promotes the idea of an engineering career to future generations.

I recently noticed an increasing trend in PC gaming (that’s correct I’m a nerd!) around engineering. Not the professional engineering that I am used to in my job but more a glorified, Hollywood engineering – the likes of which we can only day dream about.

The recent “early access” release of a game on digital distributor Steam  caught my attention called “Space Engineers” by Keen Software House. The premises is simple,  you control a futuristic astronaut (a.k.a Space Engineer) and are responsible, along with other players on-line, for designing, building, operating and maintaining spacecraft from large space station sized vessels to smaller single manned craft (reminiscent of an X-wing fighter in Star Wars if you like).

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The game, in its current form, gives players a real chance to be creative, work collaboratively and more importantly have a lot of fun.  And lets face it, who in our midst has not wanted to drift in weightlessness, build spaceships and be an astronaut?  Below you can see the very beginnings (and I mean beginnings) of my own space station.

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Being an “early access” title the game is not yet complete and relies heavily on feedback from the gaming community to help shape the final completed game that is released. However the popularity of the game, even at such an early stage of development, has been significant;500k early access unit sold since October 2013, with additional content being provided on a regular basis.

Now to avoid providing a game review and get back to my original train of thought I think the popularity of such a game is a great thing for the engineering profession. Okay, so it is glorified, futuristic and unrealistic in  terms of today’s Engineering industries but it definitely has the potential to spark that imagination and creativity needed to make the younger generations think “I want to be an engineer”. Maybe such motivation will spur them to make the game’s setting a reality,  who knows?

Now that I’ve had time to think about it this particular game has had predecessors that have included abstract engineering principles or an engineer as a character. Although I have enjoyed these games very much over the years (World of Goo, Team Fortress 2, Half Life etc.) Space Engineers is the first one I’ve seen that has a real chance to seed the idea of an engineer in the player’s psyche.

As I’ve touched upon I think its rapid popularity shows that the tides are turning in terms of perception of Engineers.  Maybe some day soon we will not be viewed as mechanics in oil stained overalls carrying a spanner but in fact the equivalent of Spacemen – bringing the sexy back.

Is mustard giving cheaper Bio-diesel?

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Apparatus to extract Bio-diesel from used Mustard oil

Though we are currently meeting our daily needs for fuel, we are heading towards a future where there will definitely be a scarcity of fossil fuels. Tons of fuel are being burned in different parts of the world at any given moment.

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Gather round: It’s story time

Engineering and science never seizes to amaze me. Not just the formulas, but also the life history of the legendary intellects who derived them. There are so many fascinating stories we rarely read in the mainstream books. A detour through the life history of scientists and engineers gives an all new perspective, and its lots of fun too. Let me give couple snippets which I find interesting.

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How Wings (Don’t) Work

Logic 101

To make boo-boos is a peculiar human trait according to Alexander Pope and Reggie Dwight told me there was a specific word that becomes particularly hard to say when it comes to admitting to the aforementioned boo-boos. Such false facts are arrived at mostly from an untruth from the compendium of  ideas and statements from which they were drawn. It is however logically possible to reach a perfectly valid conclusion from one or two false premises. e.g.

Premise 1: Socrates is a woman
Premise 2: All women are mortal
Conclusion: Socrates is mortal

From the example above, our conclusion is valid not because the first statement is true but despite the false premise about the gender of our famous dead philosopher.

An explanation of Lift

This post is an admission to a boo-boo made in the RAF Air Cadets manual for ‘Principles of Flight’ (Air Cadet Publication ACP 33) which I taught, thereby making me equally guilty of spreading false ideas or at least false explanations for brilliant ideas. Although the conclusion reached from the explanation remains valid – an aircraft wing generates lift because of the pressure difference on the upper and lower surfaces, the former needing to be higher for this to occur. The explanation used to demonstrate the aerodynamics though is simple put, false. Continue reading

Me,Myself and I:An Intro to me

Before I bore you all with my intro I have a small situational question for all of you :-

Once there was a girl who was attending her father’s funeral. There, she saw a guy and get attracted to her (Just like love at first sight).  After few minutes when she tried to meet him, she couldn’t find him. She searched all over the place. Then she came home and tried to find out about him. Weeks passed by, but she couldn’t.

After few weeks we got news that that girl has murdered her sister. So according to you why did the girl murder her sister?

The answer is at the bottom of the post.

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