Engineering is Fun!

Tianjin Eye

Tianjin Eye over the (frozen over) Hai River. Photo:RM

Whoever said that engineering is boring? In Tianjin, China the Yongle Bridge over the Hai River was equipped with a Ferris wheel, consequently combining dull infrastructure with fairground fun! It’s height of 120 meters makes Tianjin Eye the fourth tallest Ferris wheel in the world.

260px-Ferris-wheelThe word Ferris wheel, by the way, is derived from the name of it’s inventor, George Ferris. He built the first one for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The 80 meter tall construction was inspired on a bicycle wheel, in which the iron spokes maintain the tension in the wheel.

Traffic Jam Musings

crash barrier vangrail

L: Guide rail on the side of the roadside field, M: Crash barrier disappearing underground, R: Components of a standard guiderail (A-profile): S – guardrail, D – distance piece, P –post

Sometimes the traveler strays from his straight path and finds himself in need of guidance. For this reason the guiderail (or guardrail, or crash barrier) was invented. Besides its guiding function, it also has a safety aspect; it protects people and goods along the side of the road against the impact of incoming traffic. The guiderail is so common that the average motorist barely notices its presence anymore. Until he comes in contact with it, of course. Or if he finds himself stuck in traffic next to one. For a long time, without any other distractions. Then he rediscovers it and certain questions start to arise in his mind.  Continue reading

Hear no evil, see no evil…

sound barier

This week, hundreds of prominent scientists, including Stephen Hawking, published an open letter warning against the use of autonomous weapons, such as military drones that can select and attack a target without human control. It is the well-known specter of the invention turning against its inventor, of technology ultimately taking over the human race. It is clear that this is no longer fiction. In numerous fields, technological and economic, humanity is being dominated by its own inventions. Also in spatial planning. Have we become enslaved to our ever growing need for more infrastructure? Continue reading