Editor's note: Our guest editor this week, Sophi Kravitz, works at Hackaday/Supplyframe - a sponsor of this newsletter. She's also a highly intelligent and insightful person with a broad perspective on strategy, engineering, and craft - and a personal friend of mine.
Take that as you will :) -SW
Hello! My name is Sophi, and I’m excited to be here with my first guest edit. I’m an electrical engineer and artist based in Kingston, NY.
The most clicked link from last week's issue (~12% of opens) was a charismatic and nerdy telling of how SR-71 pilots would radio into civilian ground control to brag about their ~2000 kn ground speeds.
Planning & Strategy.
- CityLab asked readers to draw maps of their worlds made smaller during lockdown. Many of these are quite beautiful.
- Post-pandemic, people may be thinking about moving to less expensive or less populated areas - in April, views on Zillow of for-sale listings were 18 percent higher than in 2019.
- Coronavirus is forcing students and parents to look at the value they’re getting for their tuition. “There’s this horrific awakening being delivered via Zoom of just how substandard and overpriced education is at every level,” says Scott Galloway. Galloway predicts a future where universities will depend on big tech partners to expand.
Making & Manufacturing.
- A good step by step overview of how umbrellas are manufactured.
- The Sturminster Newton mill is a thousand year old English flour mill that recently started back up to help with pandemic flour shortage. It’s powered off of a 25 hp, 45 inch water-powered turbine, installed in 1904.
- Here’s a mesmerizing video of a modern bread line doing its thing.
- A Twitter thread proves you don’t need a CPU to run Doom! This E1M1 level is running on minimal hardware: a Quartus FPGA.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- A teardown of a Huawei Mate 30 smartphone to verify the origin of its components. This takes place a year after a US ban on American component sales to Huawei, and shows an (obvious) increase in Chinese components and decrease in American-made from 11% to 1%.
Distribution & Logistics.
- The Pilatusbahn is a railway in Switzerland which uses a rack and cogwheel drive system rather than adhesion traction. The train travels up a maximum gradient of 48%, and its drive system prevents traditional bending switches. This short video showing one of its rotary switches gives me butterflies; see also this video of one of its traverser switches.
Inspection, Testing & Analysis.
- In response to COVID-19, NYU Langone reported a 683% growth in telemedicine.
- A reporter’s narrative on traveling with the wrong regional QR code in China. Participating in the code system is required to gain entry to restaurants, shops, and banks. The system tracks location and health data, but there are glitches that can cut people off from society.
- The Product Complexity Index (PCI) measures the knowledge intensity of a product by considering the knowledge intensity of its exporters. The PCI index ranks 1232 products; Gear cutting, grinding and finishing machines rank first as the most complex product, and wheat ranks 709th.
- A 2014 blog post from Oona Räisänen breaks down how she reverse engineered a mysterious signal on a helicopter.
- A fascinating Twitter thread on how bogus posts on WhatsApp can be boosted by linking to legitimate articles on the web.
- An experiment in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that cats can transmit COVID-19 to other cats, but more work is needed to better understand if they can pass it to humans.
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