Wednesday, April 30, 2008

This is my last post.
Have a great summer everyone.

Camilo Aguilera

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Assignment 5

Willis Haviland Carrier was an American engineer and inventor. He was born in Angola, New York on November 26, 1876. In 1895 he went to Cornell University on a scholarship and graduated in 1901 with a degree in mechanical engineering. While working for the Buffalo Forge Company which manufactured heaters and air exhaust systems he devised a method to control heat and humidity for one of his clients, the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing and Publishing Company. The company’s need to control the heat and humidity in their building as it was having an effect on the paper and ink. Willis Carrier designed the first air conditioner for them in 1902. He received a patent for his 'Apparatus for Treating Air' in 1906. Carrier improved on his design in 1921 and again in 1928 when he created the first residential air conditioner for private homes called the 'Weathermaker.'

Willis Haviland Carrier:

Assignment 4

Sarah E. Goode was born in the 1850's as a slave. She gained her freedom after the American Civil War and eventually moved to Chicago. In Chicago she opened a furniture store. Many of her clients lived in the tiny apartments of the city and complained about not having enough room for a full size bed. Goode designed and constructed one of the first hideaway beds. Her bed was designed to fold into a cabinet with a roll-top desk and shelf. The design was so popular that she applied for a patent. She received her patent on July 14, 1885. Not only is she known as the inventor of the folding Cabinet Bed but she was also the first African American woman to receive a patent from the US Patent Office.

Goode's Cabinet Bed

Assignment 3

Gaston Plante was born on April 22, 1834 in Orthez, France. In 1854 he worked in Paris at the Conservatory of Arts and Crafts as an assistant physics lecturer. In 1960 he became a Professor of Physics at the Polytechnic Association for the Development of Popular Instruction. His first discovery, which has nothing to do with why he is famous, was the discovery of the first fossils of a prehistoric flightless bird. While this was an exciting discovery at the time he is much better known for his invention of the first rechargeable battery.

In 1859 he created the first lead-acid battery. It consisted of two sheets of lead rolled into a spiral and separated by rubber strips. The lead sheets were then placed into a sulfuric acid solution. A year later he presented a nine cell version (nine lead sheet elements connected in parallel) of his battery to the Academy of Sciences. While Camille Faure would develop a more efficient version Plante is still known as the initial inventor of the rechargeable battery.

Gaston Plante:

Gastons lead-acid battery

Monday, April 28, 2008

In regards to the grading fiasco

I think the root of the entire problem can be linked to the fact that an assignment was directly tied into a competitive event. If Ruane had instead made the competition into an individual event where one person would get dinner with him based on... say... the best Research Paper about World War I, then I feel that everyone would be a lot cooler about the situation.

Hell, if this wasn't a contest at all, I honestly think that people's built-in human drive of competition wouldn't be taking over right now. Trust me, I understand how everyone feels about the event, I thought our project deserved an A or at least the rankings be changed based on the time frame some other teams got that we didn't. But I'll take my B+ and scram!

I guess I dunno what I'm trying to get at here, but perhaps the best thing I could suggest for future classes is to exclude the prize-orientated nature of the assignment. I know that nobody cares more about the food than the grade, but lets face it, when we all built our machines, we felt that each of ours was better than anyone else's. No one goes into a 4x400 relay thinking their team is mediocre; they strive to beat everyone else. It's how we tick.

Anyway, I'm ranting now when I should be writing about DNA or something. Sorry for bumping the Final post down, but I just needed to get this off my chest.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Assignment 4- Richard Trevithick

Late assignment: I don't believe we discussed him in class, but I'm not 100% sure. It sounds like we would have. No one discussed him in the blogs though.

Richard Trevithick was born April 13 1771 in Cornwall, England. He died April 22, 1883 in Kent, England. Trevithick was a mining engineer. His father was a mining captain and his mother was a daughter of a miner. He didn't do very well in school, except for math. His school teacher said he was very disobedient and frequently late or skipped class. Growing up around the mines, Trevithick was fascinated with steam engines. He even lived next door to the steam engine pioneer William Murdoch for a while. He realized that new boiler technology allowed safe production of high pressure steam, and that this could be made to move a piston in a steam engine, instead of "using a pressure of close to one atmosphere in a condensing engine". Murdoch has the idea first, but it was Trevithick who was the first to make the high pressure steam work in 1799. The high pressure steam engine allowed the use of a smaller cylinder saving space and weight. Originally he built a stationary steam engine, but soon after he attached one to a road carriage. The exhaust came out of a vertical pipe or chimney, which made it possible not to use a condenser and not "infringing" on Watt's patents. Trevithick also used a a crank instead of a beam. In1801 he built a full size steam locomotive. He called it the Puffing Devil, and on Christmas Eve, he proved it worked by carrying several men into the next town. Trevithick built a longer running steam powered road vehicle, but it was very uncomfortable for the passengers and far more expensive than horse and carriage, so he abandoned the idea. Trevithick invented more than just the locomotive, he also invented the Cornish boiler, portable room heaters, and he worked with water jet propulsion and refrigeration.

Assignment 2 - Napoleon Bonapate

This assignment is late, and was extremely hard to find someone who wasn't done already and wasn't talked about in class. (I should get some extra credit points for this one!)

Napoleon Bonaparte is known mostly for his military endeavors and being the self-proclaimed Emperor of the French (note not France because he wasn't an absolute monarch). However, it is the thins we don't know about him that make him a great person for this assignment. Napoleon was born on August 15, 1769 and died May 5, 1821. He was trained in France as an artillery officer and quickly rose to power as a general in the French revolution. In 1799, Napoleon held a coup d'etat and became First Consul. Five years later he became the Emperor of the French. He took over most of Europe through military victories, until he fought Russia in 1812. His troops were defeated and they exiled Napoleon to Elba. He returned to France and regained his power for 100 days, only to be permanently defeated. He was watched by the British at St. Helena until he died.

Interestingly, Napoleon was a mathematician. He discovered and proved Napoleon's Theorem. Napoleon's Theorem states "if we construct equilateral triangles on the sides of any triangle (all outward or all inward), the centers of those equilateral triangles themselves form an equilateral triangle".

Now it is said that this is the most re-discovered theorem in mathematics and many others, including Rutherford, have discovered it as well, making it hard to determine who actually first discovered it. However, Napoleon was good in math at school and he was very fond of proclaiming himself the ruler and creators of things. He also had inventions in military science, such as using artillery as batteries. He also developed the army corp, which is the standard model for all large modern armies. Napoleon also invented the Napoleonic Code. The Napoleonic code was the French civil code turned into the first successful "codification", the "process of collecting and restating the law of a jurisdiction in certain areas, usually by subject, forming a legal code". There were a few legal "codes" before the Napoleonic code, in Bavaria and Prussia, but this was the first working one. This code became the foundation of the French State. Historians have said that this was "one of the few documents which have influenced the whole world".

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Truly disappointed

I must admit i am disappointed at the fact that so many students were complaining after the initial grades to the project were posted. I am totally aware that my group did not succeed at the project but reducing my team's grade after Complaints from the group who finished below us initially is a bit unfair. The swing team clearly did not pass the project at hand, they could not even get past there second step. I must mention after there candle burnt out they did not start the project in the same manner and they were unable to trigger any of there other steps successfully. I am not contesting the grade C+ which my team got but i am contesting the fact that the swing team deserves a better grade than which we got. In future you may consider not giving the grades publicly to prevent this type of thing form happening again, in that case if a person or persons have issues with there grades they issue will be with there grades and not the other teams' grades. I am really sorry a seemingly fun class such as this had to be tainted childish behavior of poor participants.!!!!! Have a good day!!!!!!!!

Final Reposted

Bumping this back to the top of the blog. Nothing has changed...

Final Exam

Here are the long awaited final exam questions. You must turn in a typed copy of your answers by 6 pm on Tuesday, April 29th. Late exams will be docked one letter grade for every hour they are late; no exam will be accepted past 6 pm. Please bring the exams to me personally or place in my mailbox opposite the elevators on the 6th floor of Crawford. Do not submit online!

The length of your answers may vary, depending on how well you decided to answer the questions. Any quotations need to be properly cited. Do not copy the answer from the book(s). These questions are usually part think piece, part historical. If you any questions, please send me an email.


1.) Medicine and Modernity

A. Discuss the rise of tropical medicine as a speciality in the 19th and 20th centuries. What were some of the problems these new specialists had to face? How did exploration and travel in various parts of the world create new challenges for western medicine, not only a 100 years ago, but today as well?

B. By the end of the 20th century, medicine had become a "proverbial Leviathan" according to Roy Porter, comparable in size to that of the military as far as government intervention was concerned, and in many cases no less business- and money oriented than today's large corporation. How and why did medicine transform itself into a proverbial "industrial-medical" complex during the 20th century? Is this a good thing for western society?

2) Scientific Questions Big and Small

C. John Gribbin calls the "last hurrah of classical science" the transformation of geology into geophysics. Discuss this transformation in the 19th century, not only briefly explaining the transformative process, but also what was being discussed by these new scientists. How do discussions by scientists seeking to explain the ice ages give us insight into the current debate about global warming?

D. Discuss briefly the developments in biology, from Mendel to the Human Genome Project. How do these discoveries shape how we see ourselves? How might current research into DNA, RNA and genetic material effect Darwin's ideas about natural selection?

3) Global Technology

E. How do the Internet, McDonald's and Hollywood lead to the creation of a "Global Culture" based in part on technology and the benefits of science? What is this supposed global culture argued about by pundits from all sides of the political spectrum? Is there really a global technology and culture for the 21st century? Explain.

Assignment 4 : Theophilus Van Kannel

In 1841 Theophilus Van Kannel was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was a Swiss-American who is known for inventing the revolving door. The revolving door usually is constructed of a center shaft that a set of 3 or 4 doors rotates around with in a circular enclosure. A main benefit of a revolving door is that it is energy efficient. It eliminates drafts that would normally come through a regular door. By eliminating these drafts cooling and heating requirements are reduced for the building that the revolving door is present in. Another benefit to the revolving door is that it allows more people to pass through it at the same time. These doors also can be required in skyscrapers for safety. In skyscrapers it has been said that a great volume of rushing air from a normal door is capable of blowing out windows with in the building. The door is also noiseless, so it causes less disturbance in whatever environment it is placed. Theophilus gained a US patent for the revolving door in 1888. Theophilus founded the Van Kannel Revolving Door Company. In 1907 this company was purchased by the International Steel Company. Von Kannel was awarded recognition for his invention from the Franklin Institute. He was given the "John Scott Legacy Medal" for the contribution of the revolving door.

Theophilus Van Kannel:

Revolving door


Better late than never, although late isn't good either.

Assignment 1: Simon Stevin

Stevin was born at Bruges in 1548, and eventually became a book-keeper in Antwerp. Following this, he managed to gain a position at the Franc of Bruges. He traveled through several countries until he stayed in the Netherlands for the rest of his life, dying at Leyden in 1620. He began to learn mathematics and engineering here, as well as science. In 1582, he published his “Tables of Interest,” which provided an easy way of calculation for businessmen. He also later published “De Thiende,” which explained decimal calculus and is probably the oldest pamphlet to do so. He also published a book with theorems including: the hydrostatic paradox, equilibrium of bodies on inclined planes, and the parallelogram of forces.


Assignment 2: John Montagu

In my honest opinion, John Montagu is one of the most important men that ever lived. Although there is some debate over whether he actually invented this item or not, it is still one of the best inventions EVER. It is also not technical, but I still think it's the best invention ever. Aside from maybe pizza. Montagu is said to have invented the sandwich. He makes me happy. Montagu was born in 1718 and died in 192. At the age of ten, he became the 4rd Earl of Sandwich. He studied at Cambridge, and later, in 1739 supported the Duke of Bedford. Eventually he became a colonel in the army. In 1748, he was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. Eventually he left his post to become a secretary of state, only to again become FLotA again. Aside from his hopping around throughout career paths, he was a married man with one son. His son eventually became 5th Earl. However, his wife’s health began to deteriorate, both physically and mentally. He eventually found another woman to spend his life with, Martha Ray, and they had several children. However, he could not reach a break—His first wife, Dorothy Fane had gone insane, and Ray was murdered in 1779. Another notable thing about him, besides the REAL sandwiches of course, were that James Cook presumably named the Sandwich islands after him.

His awesome invention: (Or its anscestor)


Assignment 3: Louis Daguerre

Daguerre was born in 1787 in France. He apprenticed in architecture and theatre design, and he invented the Diorama in 1822. He died in 1851.

Daguerre did many things, including medicine and set designing. However, his most notable invention is the “daguerreotype.” He began experimentation on his own, but by 1833, he had been working with another man for four years. This was when his partner, Niepce, died. By 1839, Daguerre and his son had managed to create a method for producing photographs on a silvered copper plate. He took his invention to the Paris Academy of Science.

One of his images:


Assignment 4: Elias Howe

Elias Howe was born in 1819 in Massachusetts. As a child, he was an apprentice at a textile factory. Howe invented an improved sewing machine and patented it in 1846. Unlike the previous sewing machines, his used two threads, not one. This two thread system was called the lockstitch design. One thread made a stitch that would unravel easily. With two threads, the sewing is much stronger-today we use two threads, one from a bobbin and one from the roll. Howe was forced to defend this design in 1854 against Isaac Singer, a European who had been selling sewing machines with these same methods. Howe won. Starting in 1862 until 1865, Howe was a private in the Civil War, Union side. After the war, he set up a company in Connecticut: the Howe Machine Company. He died in New York at the age of 48 in 1867.



Assignment 5: Heinrich Focke

Focke was born in 1890 in Bremen, Germany. He was the co-founder of the Focke-Wulf company. He began building gliders, but eventually in the 1930’s started working on helicopters. In 1936, he and Gerd Achgelis created the Focke-Achgelis Fa 61, which was considered to be the first working helicopter. It was essentially a biplane with blades on either side for lift. The craft was stable, and capable of hovering. It was a great start for helicopters. It could reach speeds of up to 76mphm and could fly for distances of 143 miles at a time in one hour and 20 minute flights. The altitude it could reach was 11,243 ft. Most importantly, the Fa 61 was sturdy and undamaged after this. Eventually Focke moved to Brazil, and five years later, to the US, where he helped in the helicopter industry. He died in 1979.

Fa 61:


Assignment 5 - JP Knight

JP Knight was a European Inventor who lived during the early 1900’s. He attended school Nottingham High School in London. Today, Knight is credited with inventing the first traffic light. The traffic light he created is not what we use today, but it has the same overall concept. His traffic light utilized a revolving gas powered lantern that used a red and green light. This original invention was first used near the British Houses of Parliament in London. Although the invention served its purpose, it was not reliable. At one time, the gas lantern exploded and injured people nearby.

The traffic light used today is a modified version of what JP Knight introduced. Today’s traffic lights are usually powered by electricity, so exploding gas lanterns are not an issue. The traffic light has evolved to use multiple lights to serve multiple purposes. Some traffic lights have been designed to incorporate 14 different signals.

Please visit the following link to view a picture of the traffic light designed by JP Knight:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Percy Julian

Percy Julian was born in 1899 in Montgomery, Alabama. He was one of six children and grew up during the time of the Jim Crow laws. African Americans were not generally encouraged to be educated beyond the 8th grade in Alabama at this time in history, but Percy’s parents pushed all of their children to higher education. Percy went to several universities, graduating as valedictorian from DePauw University in 1920, getting his masters from Harvard in 1923, and receiving his Ph.D. from the University of Vienna in 1931. After obtaining his degrees, he returned to DePauw and made a name for himself there by synthesizing physostigmine from the Calabar bean in 1935. He then became the director of research for the Glidden Company which made paint and varnish.

While working at the Glidden Company, Percy made several inventions. He developed Aerofoam, a liquid that could extinguish gasoline and oil fires, from soy protein extracts. He developed this during World War 2. Percy is most known for his synthesis of cortisone from soy beans. This greatly reduced the cost of it and made it much easier to produce for the treatment of inflammatory condition, such as arthritis.

Percy Julian died in 1975 and was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1990.

Image of Percy Julian

Andrew Meikle

Andrew Meikle was born in Scotland in 1719. He was said to be descended from a line of ingenious inventors, his father having actually created a kind of winnowing machine that was not very successful. Andrew Meikle worked as a millwright at the Houston Mill, an estate owned by John Rennie. After seeing the success of Meikle’s threshing machine at the Houston Mill, Rennie got his machines installed at other mills in Scotland. Unfortunately, Meikle did not receive much compensation for his invention and was quite poor in his old age. Luckily, Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, who had been president of the board of agriculture, appreciated Meikle’s invention and raised money to help support him. Andrew died at the age of 92 in 1811.

Meikle’s most remembered for his creation of the threshing machine in 1786, used for getting rid of the outer husks of grain. Before creating the threshing machine, he made windmill spring sails. These could retract the fans on windmills quickly through the use of levers in case a storm was coming through.

Image of Andrew Meikle

Image of Threshing Machine

Group Project Final Grades Redux

Alright, this caused me a relatively sleepless night, and a morning exercise routine distracted thinking about the answers I would provide to soothe everyone's ruffled feathers. I don't think I can make everyone happen, and honestly, I have never, ever had to justify my grading decisions before. This is a first, and the last time, I am going to justify my decision making process to an entire class, but I know there were enough ruffled feathers and one or two of the criticisms made had me thinking. If you still have complaints about my decision process, come see me on Tuesday afternoon, from 12-3 during office hours.

Also remember, this project is still only 25% of the grade, and the team grade can still be modified up or down based on the information provided by team leaders about your individual contributions and by your own final report on the project. Remember, for the vast majority of you, with the grades (and the extra credit) already out there, the final exam has a bigger impact on what your final grade might be then this project will.


As for how the team grades were assigned:

First off, the Rube Goldberg machine rules indicate that the machine must function and be able to be reset and function again within a set period of time. Second, there are limited attempts to make it work, in this case 3 attempts. Third, it doesn't matter how complex the machine was, or how many steps involved, it still must function and be reset in the time period allowed.

So with the above in mind:

Group #1: Hit the Easy Button. Grade A
Fairly complex number of steps. Worked the first time, and was reset and worked the second time immediately thereafter. Obviously met the demands of the assignment and was a functioning Rube Goldberg device.

Group # 2: Click Pen. Grade B+
The only issues with this design was that it did not seem overly complex, with fewer steps than other projects, but it did work after failing the first time. It was reset and worked again.

Group #3: Swingline Group. New Grade B-/C+
This group got a bonus to their project despite failing to have the project complete its intended actions or work without outside help. In fact it only worked with outside assistance and the device hung up continually at a single failure point. Their bonus grade comes from the extensive presentation and the fact that they tried to tie each section of their design to something they learned in the course.

Group #4: Launch a Doggy Toy. Grade B+
Highly complex and intricately designed, but did not work the first time as was intended. Managed to make it work the second time and was able to be set up to work a third time, but time failed. Complexity boosted grade; grade diminished because it did not reset and run second time in allotted time frame.

Group #5: Bottle Pourers. Grade C
While individually the most complex of the designs, it ultimately failed to work as was intended. Yes the individual sections of the design seemed to work, this project was perhaps overly ambitious with numerous potential (and actual) failure points. What brought it down to the lowest grade, perhaps over the other two failed projects, is that they had the longest preparation time of any group (more than 40 minutes before their 20 minute allotted time began) and yet they still failed to have the device do what it was going to do even once. The only way the project even completed its final goal at the end of the allotted time was from the physical interaction of two of the team members in the machine's processes.

Group #6: Nosepicker. Grade A-
While it was not the most complex of designs (I think I counted 6-7 individual steps) and it was somewhat simple in its purpose, it did work as advertised the first time, and then immediately was set up to run a second time. While the most complex part of the design was spelling out my name in Dominos, they had the foresight to have a fall back plan in case that did not worked. It saved them the second time when the fall back option triggered the device the second time. Technically the only thing separating them from the other B+ grades was that it worked the first time and was reset to operate in the second try and did so successfully.

Group #7: Pick a Pen. New Grade C+
Obviously a design that they worked hard on, but the individual parts did seem to work as they were partially activated when triggered by the students. However, as was pointed out by numerous observers (and was in my notes), the design never did work as it was supposed to, and ultimately failed. Ran out of time to reset one more time for a third attempt.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Group Project Final Grades

Note: Due to some valid comments from other groups and project leaders, I am going to revisit some of these grades tomorrow. The top three teams don't need to worry, but I am going to look at all of the team grades and provide some explanations as to why the teams got the grades they deserved. I know you may not think you deserve the grades you got, but I made notes, and I have some reasons for the grades I gave.

Okay, keeping in mind that I have to still read the final reports submitted by each team member, these are the working grades for each team. Remember, except for the team with the lowest grade, the team captain's gets a half letter grade higher than the rest of the team. For the lowest grade team, their team captain gets a half letter grade lower. There are some ties, for differing reasons, but I think you can pretty much figure out why the teams got the grades they did.

For the winning team, dinner will be provided at 6 pm ish on Tuesday. Meet at my office, 625 Crawford.

If you have any questions, please contact me through email or come see me in my office on Tuesday afternoon, from noon to 3 pm.

Winning team:

Group #1: Hit the Easy Button. Grade A
Group # 2: Click Pen. Grade B+
Group #3: Swingline Group. Grade C+
Group #4: Launch a Doggy Toy. Grade B+
Group #5: Bottle Pourers. Grade C
Group #6: Nosepicker. Grade A-
Group #7: Pick a Pen. Grade B-

Group #1 was the overall winner. Fairly complex set up. Worked the first time, and reset immediately to work the second time. Good job!

Assignment 5: Adolph (Adi) Dassler

There was a duplicate of my blog entry because during the writing period another person had posted it. It all occurred within 30 minutes of each other. As the rules state, I was the second person to post it, so I will rewrite the blog with another European inventor. Sorry for the delay.

The next time you are jogging down a scenic path, playing basketball on a paved court, or even just walking out to get your mail remember that foot ware had to begin some where… There are so many name brand shoes out there, but one is recognized by almost anywhere in the world. This recognizable emblem is the three stripes of Adidas.
These shoes have been worn by Olympic track stars, boxers, and even entire soccer teams as uniforms. Adidas was the beginning of what today would be known as trend-setter designed shoes.
Adolph Dassler was born on November 3rd, 1900 in Herzogenaurach, Germany. He was the son of a factory shoe-maker and brother to other foot apparel designers. His brothers would go on to find the business of Puma, as well as other item lines. Adi’s son, Horst who would later help run his father’s business would be the founder of yet another line, Arena, for swimming gear. Well, Adolph’s journey began in his mother’s kitchen soon after World War 1. He was just 20 years old when he assembled the first model of Adidas which was made out of a leathery canvas. Adolph, Adi as he was called, had a mission with his shoes, to “provide every athlete with the best footwear for his respective discipline”. Adi would keep to his goal over the course of his successful career in the shoe industry.
By 1928, Adi’s shoes made their first appearance in the Olympic Games, which was held in Amsterdam. Over time though, his shoes became more and more catered to the athlete’s needs; this was apparent with the development of spike inserts. These spike inserts were used to help with gripping the surface of grassy or other slick ground material. These spiked shoes can be remembered for one really important event: the World Cup finals in soccer when German defeated Hungary with the help of these infamous shoes.
Adidas surprisingly didn’t get its name until 1948 when Adi deemed it a combination of both his first and his last names. A year after, the Adidas shoe would dawn it’s new logo: the Three Stripes. By this time, Adi had already made 30 different types of shoes for more than ten different sports. Within 20 years, unbeknownst to Adi, Adidas would become one of the world’s leading providers of shoes.
In the mid 1960s the Adidas campaign added to its solo shoe line…Apparel. This shoe company was now manufacturing both competition and training gear for all sports. The company was shocked though when Adi passed away in 1978, reaching the age of 78. This successful company would shift to new owners, his widow, Kathe and his youngest son, Horst. Horst would do only great things for this company in the years to come and soon it was a global leader in most areas of sports products and marketing. He would also spread Adidas to other countries such as France. Like his father, Horst died unexpectedly at the age of 51.
Soon after the Adidas Company hit a bit of a downward spiral as it tried to find targeting ages to sell their product too. By going back to it’s original model, the popularity began to sore and in 2006, the newly adapted company bought out Reebok and is now compared to other top names in the shoe business.
So next time you are out and about and see the Three Stripes, know that it has had the history and development behind it. Sometimes shoes made in the weirdest of places make the biggest impacts on society… hey, “if they shoe fits, wear it!”


Adolph Dassler:
Original Logo:

Video link: