Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! My shipments *just* made it on the boat; I hope the same for you :)
A quick shout-out to Omar, who is helping out with planning, operations & outreach on The Prepared. Holler!
Planning & Strategy.
- MIT is hosting a (free, meals provided) hackathon to engineer improvements to the breast pump; children and caregivers are welcome to attend as well. Pretty rad.
- John Barnes on what 2018 will bring to additive manufacturing.
- Foxconn, looking to diversify its customer base outside of Apple and phones in general, "has plans to partner with" RED to make professional quality video cameras available at a lower price point.
- As US immigration policy has turned chilly, farmers are increasingly willing to invest in cow milking robots. "More than half of all workers on dairy farms are immigrants."
- The Regional Plan Association issued a strongly worded report on disfunction in the MTA's ability to construct megaprojects like Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access. Interestingly, the report received support from Siemens - which itself submitted a proposal for CBTC (one of the most critical and expansive tasks on the MTA's current slate). Of note: "The transportation authority should create a separate management agency to run each megaproject" and should "expand the use of design-build contracting rather than have separate contracts for each, and allow the use of private workers for more tasks."
Making & Manufacturing.
- SpaceX is building a new droneship (its third) for first stage booster recovery.
- Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd, a Chinese manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries, is building what will be the second largest (to Tesla) battery factory in the world; with their other factories already in operation they will become the largest battery manufacturer in the world.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- A good piece in the New Yorker about paper jams, which rather cleverly suggests paper jam engineering as "the ultimate challenge," involving "knowledge of physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, computer programming, and interface design." However, an important note: In an aside, this article mentions the Bernoulli principle and the theory (which you may have been taught in high school) that the pressure differential between the top and bottom sides of wings is what make airplanes fly. This is incorrect.
- A very cool looking - and renewably powered - harbor cleanup system in Baltimore.
- NASA's page on micrometeoroids, orbital debris, and the Kessler syndrome. I have a hard time reading between the lines on NASA's take on the Kessler syndrome, and it seems as if the private companies working on rockets don't have micrometeoroids at the very top of their list either (though this blog post by Planet Labs is somewhat encouraging). See this moment in a recent Radiolab for context.
Distribution & Logistics.
- Last year, Maersk "managed to reduce facilitation payments [which are bribes in essentially every aspect but name] by 96%."
- First Jump (née Social Bicycles) teamed up with Uber, now Lyft is aggregating & sponsoring the city of Baltimore's bike share program. US bikeshare speculation seems to finally be moving forward in earnest (if low risk) ways. Related, I spotted what appears to be a dockless CitiBike recently.
- A short post on the out-of-proportion typical public transit times between Montreal and New York City, and how they could be cut down dramatically and inexpensively with a single bus transfer.
Inspection & Testing.
- NASA completed structural testing on the engine section of its Space Launch System, which is projected to cost between $1.5 and $2.5B per launch.
- The central route of China's South–North Water Transfer Project is 1400 km long, and contains over 100k "infrastructure sensors measuring stress, strain, vibration, displacement, earth pressure, and water seepage, embedded in the ground adjacent to the canal and in the concrete banks and bridges as well as the 50 dams built to control the water’s flow." Note, the entire project is projected to cost over $79B, more expensive than any engineering project in the world save for the International Space Station. By contrast, NYC's Water Tunnel No. 3 (the largest capital construction project in NY State history) should come in about $6B.
- "Based on multiple computer simulations [of Elon Musk's Tesla's elliptical orbit], 'roughly 50 percent are going to hit a planet in the next few tens of millions of years.'"
- Photos: "2,000 Days on Mars With the Curiosity Rover."
- A remarkably thorough review of the Apple Extended Keyboard II, which was released in 1990.
- Bunnie Huang on the Chinese market's perception of the iPhone X's notch.
- A good photo summary of the bridges of the Merritt Parkway, which are really remarkable.
Thanks as always to our recurring donors for supporting The Prepared.Credit also to Zack, Chris, Zach, Reilly, Omar, and Dan for sending links.
p.s. - We should be better friends. Send me a note - coffee's on me :)
p.p.s - Whenever possible, we work to encourage inclusivity. Here's how.