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Monthly Archives: January 2012

"I am become death, the destroyer of worlds" R.J.Oppenheimer

The word “Nuclear” tends to bring only one image to mind (an image much like the one above). Nuclear weapons have only ever been used in warfare twice. Both in 1945, when the United States of America destroyed the Japanese cites of Nagasaki and Hiroshima with 1st generation atomic weapons.

The total death toll from nuclear weapons reaches approximately 340,000. Never mind the countless square miles of land that have been destroyed and ruined for future generations. There are entire islands that have been blown off the map completely.

Nuclear Fusion has been perfected in bomb form. The Russian ‘Tsar Bomba’ is the most powerful measured nuclear bomb, with a yield of 50 mega tonnes ( that is the equivalent of 50,000,000 tonnes of dynamite).

I think we are justified to be fearful of this technology. Thus, the negative aspect of the word nuclear is fair but more than that, it is important. Not so that we should stop exploring nuclear energy, but that we remember the horrific past this technology has.

Imagine if all that time and effort, research and development, testing and planning had instead gone into Nuclear Energy and not nuclear weaponry. Would we have an energy crisis now?

So… Apart from coming away with spinal injuries, what did I take from Federico Casalegno’s lecture?

Well as there was quite a wide range of subjects discussed, let me zoom in on one very particular subject:


The Cloud

The cloud is an interactive Sculptural landmark which responds to touch, sound, position & gestures. It comprises (if I remember correctly) 60,000 optical fibers, which were all installed by hand!

In my opinion, this design was a great idea – but had not quite got far enough. Why not have much more fibers? (obviously with a better production process)
But imagine if you could have an entire room made from this stuff! It would be great! Who needs a carpet? I’ll have my interactive optical display any day!

But instead, we are left with what looks like a balding rock….
I expected more from MIT to be perfectly honest.

My hopes here, are that I can use some of my insights from the cloud with our RSA project and produce something interactive on a large scale.


"The secrets of the stars are soon within our grasp.."

I may have dived in too deep, too quickly – so let me explain nuclear fusion for those who do not know already.

Nuclear fusion (otherwise known as the nuclear strong force) is the driving force that powers the stars. Inside a star, hydrogen atoms are slammed together with incredible pressure and heat to produce helium + energy (this is according to Einstein’s famous equation E = mc^2). This is the energy that we experience each day from the sun.

For anyone who is interested… (i.e. me) When a star runs out of hydrogen fuel to fuse into helium, depending on its mass – it then starts to fuse helium atoms into carbon. Again, depending on the stars mass, this process can continue theoretically – until the star has produced iron.
Iron is the last element that can be produced with “normal” solar temperatures and pressures. At the point where a star has exhausted its fuel supply, gravity starts to overpower the outward energy from fusion, and (if the star is large enough) a chain reaction starts. This chain reaction causes the layers of the star to implode – creating the most violent known phenomenon in the universe – a supernova.
During the cataclysm, that lasts for a few brief moments, the temperature inside the core of the star reach astronomically high figures. In this incredibly hot, dense environment – the rest of the periodic elements can be produced (for example the rare metals gold and silver, etc).
When a star goes supernova, it is the brightest light in the entire universe for a few moments.

Anyway… Nuclear fusion, as created by humans, on earth is… somewhat less impressive.
Fusion has been achieved by CCFE (Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, UK) for several seconds in a gigantic machine called a Tokamac.
Due to the small problem of fusion occuring at close to 15 million degrees kelvin – fusion energy is quite difficult. The Tokamac works by using very powerful magnets to contain the nuclear fuel in a donut shape, without any physical contact with the machine. See the following link for info on the tokamac:



So after some frantic google-ing, I found some very interesting TED talks on the future of Nuclear Energy according to some world-leading experts.

Its a very interesting area of research, where human endeavor is still trying to unlock the secrets of the universe. The tantalizing idea of a saving energy source that solves all our energy problems in one go is amazing! However, it does leave a bit of a bad taste in your mouth… You can’t help but immediately deny that it will ever happen.

However… with nuclear fusion – it seems like we are so close to achieving something spectacular! It could be the 21st century equivalent of creating fire, inventing the wheel, creating paper, discovering medicine, inventing textiles, inventing the combustion engine, taking flight & exploring space all in one.

But… *sigh* It may not happen…

What do you think?

Hey folks!

First blog… so don’t judge too harshly…

Today we launched our Design Technology “project.” Hugh outlined the course – with some interesting insights.

I have two interesting ideas for research – future of space exploration, and looking forward in future nuclear energy. Both of which, I find very interesting! It would be fun to look further into.

We had a very interesting talk by Craig Whittet looking into “The Demise of skilled traditional manufacturing – What are we willing to pay for?”

Which looked into several companies and historical figures including: Brooks, Trickers, Robert Stephenson & Jeff Jones. Craig explained his views on consumer investment purchase trends. We also chatted about ‘the China problem’ with a surprisingly optimistic viewpoint – which is a welcome surprise!

It was nice to be reminded that hand built products still have a place in future markets. Which certainly gives us hope as designers.

My take on these companies (such as Brooks) is that they are forced to occupy the prestige of their prospective markets to survive. You will rarely find quality hand crafted merchandise in a mid market position. Could this ever happen?