Posted 6 hours ago

Butterfly Effect - this video explains how a very simple idea resulted in massive system improvements. I’m a huge F1 fan, not just for entertainment value but also because the relentless pressure and rapid development cycles have resulted in some astonishing advancements that transferred far outside the sport, both in technology and how humans work together to develop it.

This year, Mercedes has achieved a significant performance advantage over the competition, with a design choice so simple it can be explained in layman’s terms in under 3 minutes. This is a prime example of how new materials technology enables old technology (a turbocharger) to be executed in fundamentally new ways, achieving massive improvement.

This progress tends to come fastest and hardest when F1’s sanctioning body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, enacts a long-list of changes to the rules (i.e. the “formula”) with which every team’s car must comply, as it did this season. This year, the biggest surprise to emerge in the aftermath of this sport-wide overhaul has been the Mercedes’ ingenious split-turbo engine – a master stroke of imaginative engineering that has has thus far enabled the team to not just beat the competition, but positively trounce it.

Posted 1 day ago

Asteroid Terrarium - in his new novel 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson tells a story around the idea of terraforming asteroids into human habitable environments. There’s an interesting promotional website for the book, which takes you through the steps of transforming an asteroid, and moving it into a desired orbit. Forget buying your own private island, this is the ultimate retirement estate for the billionaire who already has everything else.

The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity’s only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future.

The first event takes place on Mercury, on the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. It is an unexpected death, but one that might have been foreseen. For Swan Er Hong, it is an event that will change her life. Swan was once a woman who designed worlds. Now she will be led into a plot to destroy them.

(via RockPaperShotgun - thanks for the submission!)

Posted 2 days ago

Humans Uninhibited - nature restricts human development to protect the species from resource shortages. Gene therapy allows for removing these inhibitors enabling the human body to grow stronger bones, more powerful muscles, greater endurance, and even smarter brains. While this is still difficult to do in an adult, removing the gene inhibitors of a human child is now possible.

But should we do it; are we ready for the next generation to be superhuman? This isn’t scifi anymore either; switching off inhibitor genes has been demonstrated in animals with spectacular results (think bodybuilding champion sized mice and cattle). Given the availability of the technology, and its potential impact, one can’t help but wonder if this isn’t quietly taking place already.

Posted 4 days ago

Beyond Earth - a goosebumps inducing trailer for the next Civilization game: Beyond Earth. I love that the game doesn’t need alien monsters or large scale warfare to be interesting; the challenge of making humanity a multiplanetary species is by itself plenty engaging to make things interesting. 

While we did get a new Civilization announcement today, the specific direction was far from expected. Instead, the next entry in the Civilization series is going to outer space with Civilization: Beyond Earth. As the name implies, the game takes the familiar turn based simulation series to the stars. “Our time on Earth is ending, so we turn our gaze upward, to the stars, and embark on the bravest journey in human history,” as an introductory trailer for the game puts it.

[…]

Where we’re going as a species definitely seems to be a focus of the gameplay as well. Every new game in Beyond Earth is the story of a different expedition to a new planet that will serve as the new home for humanity. “It’s not about humans versus aliens, it’s about different factions of humans all trying to go to the same place,” McDonogh said.

(Source: Ars Technica)

Posted 5 days ago

pleXus - this mind bending skyscraper design combines organic elements with scifi techno gloss for a truly breathtaking vision of the near term urban skyline. To be located near the Hong Kong harbor, it is focused on managing traffic flow within its design, and yet a staggering monument to the philosophy that if you can make a building look like anything you want, why would you want to make it anything but beautiful?

Located at the water’s edge next to the Macau Ferry Terminal, the tower’s design varies in both its circulation and organization to control the speed at which it receives and negotiates the flow of traffic to optimize movement around and inside the structure.

[…]

The PleXus Tower was conceived as a segmented but highly connected network of major transportation functions, as well as a conventional housing program. The shift in the way the tower design is read, as well as in the functionality of each segment, provides greater programmatic control. Residences are accessible yet private, parking is convenient, and circulation through the ground-level public space provokes interest. At night, lights will glow from the panels, reminding us of the connections these segments share as well as blending in with Hong Kong’s unique night skyline.

Many more images of both exterior and interior elements are on the original post.