Hi, everyone! I’m a time-traveller and the new writer for Passion For STEM. I hope you don’t hate my writings too much. To understand the future of Computing, we must first know at least a little about the past. Let’s do some time travelling together, then.
It’s 1000 BCE and we’re in a moneylender’s place in China. We see someone asking for a loan of what is apparently a big amount (We know this because Susan is with us and translates it for us.) (Thanks, Susan.). What do we see the moneylender doing his mathematical calculations on?
It’s a weird rectangular device with lots of little beads in it. Familiar, huh?
This is currently known as The Abacus.
We’re back here. So, the Abacus was invented by the Chinese a long time (we’ll see how long when we take our next trip) before anyone even came close to inventing a device that helped humans in solving their math problems. It was a simple device with very basic operations but still could help a lot when big numbers were into consideration (like we saw at that moneylender’s).
Make the Future took place again this year to showcase the science and engineering feats of the UK and world, and to generally get people excited about science. The festival is focussed on energy production, employing new techniques and idealising low-carbon techniques (with our ever-increasing current energy usage) to reduce our burning of fossil fuels. With great minds and even greater inventions, it was impossible to not think up potentially-world changing ideas.
All of the staff were extremely enthusiastic staff with bubbly personalities which complimented the beautifully sunny day. They did great jobs in assisting children from Primary and Secondary schools, which came in the thousands, to learn, explore and be inspired in the buzzing atmosphere.
Amongst the main attractions was the ‘Make The Future’ live performances, where kids flocked to as they were shot with water vapour and directly observed the magical-seeming phenomena of electromagnetism.
I’m excited to share with you a post from a potential new author Tito who could be joining the Passion For STEM team and focusing on Engineering topics.
Author: Tito Adesanya
Imagine a world where you could take a few dozen images of your brother’s head and within an hour have it delivered to your doorstep in titanium, or in chocolate, if you really wanted – I did it last week. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, that’s our world. Begin digression…
This niche of technology is called 3D scanning, and as already seen impactful use the medical field where doctors have taken multiple images of the severed damaged head of a patient and with the click of a button, transformed it into a 3-dimensional image on a computer screen. This allowed them to zoom in (X100) on blood vessels, rotate the image to assess damage on the chin, and pan over the skull to search for open wounds – all without physically manipulating the fragile and sensitive head. The gem of this technology, though fantastic, can be found at its intersection with 3D printing. Uploading this same head onto some 3D printing software can be done in the same time and be printed. If you were wondering – yes, you can also scan and print and THE Eiffel Tower. Digression over.
3D printing, developed by Chuck Hull in 1983, has since only gained serious traction within the last 10 years, as machines have become over 300 times cheaper. This increased accessibility to the public has paved the way for hobbyists and academics to take centre stage and push the boundaries of what was thought was possible. Since, the University of Southampton has designed and produced the first fully 3D-printed plane, a high-end restaurant in London called Food Ink have 3D printed cakes and Master’s Degree students at MIT printed an entire bungalow in under 24 hours.
The basic technology behind 3D printing, technically called additive layer manufacturing (ALM), initially on ran on a method called stereolithography, but up to 6 further methods have been developed since then. ALM works by taking a computer design of an object, then “slicing” it up into hundreds or thousands of horizontal layers – increasing the number of slices increases the quality of the print. The printer then produces the 3D object by printing out these layers on top of each other from the bottom up to form the final product. 3D printing is seeing an increasing number of valuable, and very potentially life-changing uses, many of them gaining increasing support from governmental bodies.
While my lovely co-writer friend Jiangmin has been having a summer holiday filled with medicine, biological research and UKCAT revision (good luck!), she’s headed off this week to complete a Summer school course – just wanted to say, all the best Jiangmin!
I thought this week I might leave Physics aside for a little and talk about the importance of space flight and exploration, especially the Mars issue.
Many leading scientists believe that in order for humans to progress and maintain our survival we must think about progressing in terms of space exploration, whether that be missions like Juno and Cassini to aid research on planetary science, missions like Voyager – the furthest space craft from Earth to explore the outskirts of the solar system or actually sending humans to Mars which seems to either be the general public’s cup of tea, or not.