Making & Manufacturing.
- A good overview of how Huawei's US trade ban will affect their hardware and software development. The story with Huawei is still unfolding, but decoupling their products from US hardware and software will be no easy feat, especially given the real-time exodus of orgs like ARM. For a detailed list of 'what the heck is going on with Huawei', take a look at the whole timeline in this article.
- Oil-based plastics make up 50% of the volume of electric vehicles, but only 10% of their weight - but quantity by weight is expected to double by next year in an effort to extend range. Related, a good piece on the state of corn-based PLA, which is ostensibly biodegradable but has its downsides as well.
Distribution & Logistics.
- Cleaning up the two sections of the Great Pacific garbage patch would cost ~$13B, but shipping companies are already paying to sail around them.
Inspection, Testing & Analysis.
- User testing at its finest: Toyota built a mini Nürburgring-inspired racetrack for product testing. At the end of the day, the best way to build a great product isn't just by using simulations - you can have fun and learn something at the same time. It would be awesome to open this up to sprint cars on the weekends (which is what they'd do in my home state of Arkansas).
- Cities are louder than ever, and the negative effects disproportionately hurt poor people. Apparently you will be less healthy if you live in a noisy environment. Sound-proofing and energy-efficient insulation go hand in hand, and both are preferable to the off-balance motors that some people in Beijing are using to punish their loud neighbors. But insulation can keep it too warm in the summer and even 'too quiet,' leading to use of pink noise generators and real-time invisible acoustic architecture with speakers and microphones to adjust how it sounds in a space. Totally wild.
Obscure science equipment.
- Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. An all-time favorite! You put a sample in a magnetic field so big that it stops the motion of all the particles in the material. Then while the sample is in that powerful magnetic field, you hit the sample with some sound, introducing a small amount of vibration. The sound vibration makes the particles move a tiny bit, like dropping a rock in a still pond. Then the motions of the particles slowly decay back to stationary again. You measure how the waves from the particles decay, and that gives you a fingerprint of the particles. That fingerprint (with some analysis and correlation) basically tells you what atoms are connected and what their energy states are. SO RAD! Giant magnet, plus sound, plus Fourier transform on some waves!
- Magnetic resonance force microscopy. Also one of my favorites, because it combines mechanical deflection of an iron cobalt tipped cantilever, measured by a laser beam, that moves in response to the magnetic spins of the electrons in the sample. One of the best ways to characterize proteins in-situ, which should mean that you can measure the proteins as they change, rather than having a static, or fixed sample to look at. Getting to a state of real-time monitoring of changes in materials would be rad, since there's so much we don't know about transition and non-equilibrium states. Traditional methods of x-ray crystallography fall short when measuring proteins.
- An overview of the $605B global snack market. Chances are that you're eating more snacks than your parents did: "40% of U.S. adults in the late 70s didn't snack at all on any given day! Now, 95% of U.S. adults consume at least one snack daily." Chocolate reins supreme across the globe, but sweet biscuits is $73B! The whole shaving industry is only $3.5B. I wonder when the first sweet biscuit startup will get funded.
Thanks as always to our recurring donors for supporting The Prepared. Thanks also to the following readers for sending links: Jessie, Zack, Severin, Mark.
Thanks for taking the time to engage with an itty-bitty, tiny fraction of everything that's out there in the world of hardware and manufacturing this week. If you all would like to find out more about hiring diverse folks in hardware, send me an email or a message on twitter.
p.s. - Whenever possible, we work to encourage inclusivity. Here's how.