In February the Department for Education released a draft of its proposed changes to Design & Technology in England for Key Stages 1-3 (ages 5-14). From a Government that has consistently argued for more ‘rigour’ in education, it makes for a truly shocking read. The fact that ‘food and nutrition’ form the only compulsory part of the proposed D&T curriculum is just the the start of these highly unambitious, low-aiming and frankly economically illiterate proposals. In a survey conducted by the Design and Technology Association, 91.8% of respondents have said that the draft does not represent high quality D&T, while 95% said it will not encourage the development of modern and relevant D&T practice. Oh, and isn’t it ironic that it’s National Science and Engineering Week as well…
On Friday, Apple retail stores across the world were braced for the long lines of shoppers ready to get their hands on the iPhone 5. The new edition isn’t revolutionary in terms of design nor ground-breaking in paving the way for mobile devices being benchmarked against it for years to come, but is nonetheless a sleek new addition to the Apple product line. Customers seem to agree because in a statement released by Apple last Monday it was revealed that the company had sold over two million iPhone 5s on the Internet, on the first day orders were allowed to be placed. The iPhone5 comes in three models: 16, 32 and 64 GB priced at £529, £599 and £699.
All hasn’t been so smooth sailing for the device, however. Criticism has been rife about the new Apple maps app, which users still on previous editions of the iPhone and iPad can upgrade with the latest Apple operating system, the iOS 6. It has been claimed by many that the app provides inaccurate directions, misplaced landmarks, missing locations, and a lack of ground-level photographic street views. It is important to note here that there is no reason to be hanging in the doldrums about the major flaws it presents though, because the mapping database of the app relies on crowdsourcing customer data, so when owners report problems with the maps service, Apple can fix it for you.
The new slimmer and taller design of the iPhone 5 incorporates LTE wireless, increased battery life, less weight (a meagre 112 grams) and a much bigger 4 inch display enabling it to be 16:9 for those awe-inspiring HD content in all their glory. Coated in aluminium at the back, it comes in two forms: anodized black and au naturel. The headphone jack has been moved to the bottom, where it sits with the speakers. The Lightning connector has been introduced for the very first time in the iPhone, and it is a massive improvement over the 10-year old, clunky former trademark Dock connector. Apple EarPods was also launched along with the Lightning, which Apple says is built to enhance the newly added noise-cancelling technology.
The new 20 % smaller A6 processor makes the device twice as fast. The 8-megapixel iSight camera comes with a Panorama mode where you can shoot a seamless 260 degrees photo up to 28 megapixels, and record 1080p HD videos . Those hungry for built-in apps can find the regular ones from iTunes to Newsstand and Weather to Stocks in the device, and if your looking to add more there’s always the brilliant App Store.
There are a handful of cars in the British motoring industry that sits as proudly as the Rolls-Royce Ghost. Steeped in heritage, this luxury saloon from Rolls-Royce Motor Cars was inspired by the very original Silver Ghost manufactured in 1906. Designed by Andreas Thurner and Helmut Riedl, the Ghost has a slightly more affordable price tag than many other cars by Rolls-Royce. Initially named “RR04″ during the design phase, its built in the Goodwood plant and comes in two forms: the original Ghost and the 17 cm longer Ghost Extended Wheelbase.
The idea behind the automobile was officially unveiled at the March 2009 Geneva Motor Show, with a “200EX” title. This car was manufactured in steel, the chassis employed a four corner air suspension system, and a central shaft used for activating gear was in chain-like style aluminium, for both the front and the back. The “200EX” was expected to provide a dynamic experience and it delivered in more ways than one.
The moment you step into the car and rev up the 6.6 litre V-12 engine you sense the emphasis that has been placed on noise-reduction technology. It has a capacity for producing a generous amount of acceleration, going from 0 to 62 mph in about 5 seconds; the highest that it can run is 155 mph. The Ghost comes with a luxury set of cameras equipped with a surround-view scheme, there’s night vision, lane-departure alarms, and high-beam headlights, ensuring that the car stays true to the brand label of Rolls-Royce.
Full-grain leather seats, chrome-finished touches, veneer wood lines, a cashmere infused roof, and Blenheim carpets give the interior a luxurious and practical feel while simplicity is projected from all of its many basic gadgets. It also possesses an impressive range of airsprings, electronic dampers, and Active Roll Stabilisation, built to take many readings for you from sensors all round the car and manage the suspension for efficient and comfortable driving.
Last week saw some truly remarkable images come out of the Mediterranean, images that made it look like a gigantic ship had just been plucked out of the water and dumped near a small island. But rather than fantasy this was the sinking and grounding of a £370 million, 290 metre long, 115,000 tonne cruise liner.
As I write this, all focus seems to be on the Captain for leading his ship astray, diverting this massive vessel off it’s pre-planned course as a treat for the islanders on Giglio or to salute a fellow captain at his home. The investigation into the exact cause of this disaster is likely to go on for some time, but importantly questions are also being asked as to whether or not cruise liners are safe?
Modern cruise liners are true behemoths of the sea, reaching up to 220,000 tonnes and featuring restaurants, swimming pools and cinemas to entertain up to 6,000 passengers.
Naturally, the media was quick to conjure up comparisons between the Costa Concordia and the RMS Titanic, but one thing remains as true today as it did back in 1912 – no ship is unsinkable. The key differences between then and now lie in design and evacuation procedures, which essentially boil down to how long the ship should take to sink if the hull is breached, how well it is able to prevent listing (toppling over) and how quickly passengers and crew should be evacuated.
A specialist in ship dynamics at the University of Southampton, Professor Philip Wilson pointed out that modern ships are incredibly stable, when interviewed by the BBC. Ships have systems in place allowing water flooding one side of a ship to be pumped to the other, or even to deliberately take more water on board to correct any imbalance. So the severe listing experienced by the Costa Concordia remains a mystery to be solved, as is the fact that the ship eventually toppled over to starboard, even though the main hull breach was on it’s port side!
Personally there’s one thing that puzzles me much more, and that’s this: why exactly are ships worth hundreds of millions of pounds, carrying thousands of passengers and crew, even allowed to sail off pre-defined routes apparently at the ‘whims’ of their captains? Engineers managing projects worth mere hundreds of thousands of pounds must follow strict specifications and raise any change requests with their stakeholders – how is operating a cruise ship any different?
“What do you get if you add 8 years of mechanical engineering education, Scouting, 10m of Swedish timber, a ridiculous number of nuts and bolts, some garden hose, and about 100 man-hours?”
The start of a very poor joke? No, I’m afraid not – but let me tell you what it does make…
A few days ago I set off for Sweden to spend a weekend building a prototype of some pedal-powered rigs for the World Scout Jamboree that’s going to be held near Kristianstad in August. I thought I’d give a quick update about how we got on…
The weekend was a long one, but after starting on Friday with three hours sleep before our flight to Stockholm, and many hours spent in Swedish electronics and hardware stores, we were ready to go!
Powered by nothing but (illicitly smuggled) Yorkshire Tea, homemade Swiss role and the finest Swedish knock-offs of a famous American biscuit brand, we worked late into Friday night, were up bright and early Saturday (which was surprisingly easy as the Sun comes up at around 3am there) for a 14 hour stint… and then did the same again on Sunday! By around 9pm, we were finished.
What did we achieve? Well, our amazing spiral pump worked like a charm. Running some rope off the bike’s rear rim and around a pulley wheel, we were able to make the pump spin beautifully via a custom made lubricated bearing (which I definitely think qualifies me to be called a tribologist!) and chuck out some water at a pretty good rate.
Even better than that, by mounting a DC scooter motor behind the rear tyre, and through a mere £100 (~1000SEK) worth of electronics, Dave (narrating), Miles and myself were able to achieve this…
Lighting a car bulb may not seem like much, but that’s a wonderfully smoothed and controlled 12.08V output you’re witnessing there – no mean feat, I can tell you! And yes, I am the slightly delirious, haggard looking idiot holding the bulb in the video.
Whilst there are some (a lot of) design changes to be made before we build the other 5-7 rigs in Sweden next month, it just goes to show what you can do with a bit of know-how and carpentry skills (and 10m of Swedish pine, a scooter motor, some garden hosepipe and plumbing fittings). To be honest, for some therapeutic relaxation, I can’t think of anything better than your own DIY engineering project (though I suppose I would say that!)