The 14 greatest engineering challenges for the 21st century?

Posted by Thomas Thu, 21 Feb 2008 04:54:30 +0000

This looks like an exceptionally bad list of things to explicitly set out to accomplish, even if my ultimate boss was on the list of contributors:

* Make solar energy affordable
* Provide energy from fusion
* Develop carbon sequestration methods
* Manage the nitrogen cycle
* Provide access to clean water
* Restore and improve urban infrastructure
* Advance health informatics
* Engineer better medicines
* Reverse-engineer the brain
* Prevent nuclear terror
* Secure cyberspace
* Enhance virtual reality
* Advance personalized learning
* Engineer the tools for scientific discovery

Any list of far reaching predictions is usually way off, but for something so broad as things to engineer in the next 100 years, would be things like:

* Get everyone to get along through broad cultural education
* Increase global quality of education by 2 orders of magnitude
* Make more good food and make it ridiculously cheap (including water)
* Make eating better and exercise absolutely foolproof, including reducing people’s dependence on drugs (the legal kind)
* Find a transportation fuel to replace oil
* Get the US over its aversion to fission

Posted in General | 1 Comment

Wild Hare

Posted by Thomas Tue, 19 Feb 2008 02:28:30 +0000

I don’t that I know the proper spelling of hare for that colloquialism. I tried to find it online, but failed. :(

I had a cool three day weekend, spent in San Diego with Chad and Karen. Hence the title. Only on Friday did I decide to see about flying down, emailing them and making flight arrangements. So I flew down Saturday morning. They met me at the airport and we did the touristy stuff, walking down the coast, getting to see a lot of marine mammals, and on Sunday we went to the San Diego zoo, which was exceptional.

But today was another story. I was in the foulest of moods starting somewhere in the San Diego airport. As I was standing near the gate, waiting on my C group to be called to lineup, a young woman was standing next to me. As she moved to stand closer to where the line was about to form for her group, I got a little better look at her. To which I must say that she was absolutely gorgeous. I tried to see where she was sitting as I tried to find my own seat, but to no luck. I told myself that if I saw her at the baggage claim that I would tell her as much. And again I didn’t see her. That put me in a foul mood by itself. Then, after riding the shuttle to the long term parking and finally finding my car, hardly remembering what it looked like, I go to pop open the trunk to put my luggage in. The automatic trunk lock doesn’t seem to work. That’s odd, I think to myself. Perhaps the battery’s dead. No, surely not. I open the trunk with the key and put my stuff in. I then move to the driver’s side door and try the automatic locks. Again nothing. I curse to myself. I open the door with the key, get in, and turn it over. Nothing. No clicking, not a peep. So, I call the 800 number on my key chain. They say that it’ll be 1 hr. Wonderful. To make matters worse, both of my cell phones are beeping at me saying low battery. I rifle through my things to find the car charger, wondering if it was such a good idea putting off charging them. I plug it in to start charging my phone. The phone doesn’t even recognize that it’s plugged in. Doubly wonderful. So, as I’m waiting for the Roadside Assistance to take their sweet time, I decide to hedge my bet. I walk over to the exit pavilions and ask the teller if the staff can jump start my car. She says that it’ll be at least 15 minutes. 15 is way better than 60. I never kept track of exactly how long all of these things took. But when the airport people finally came, they came almost at the exact same moment that the tow truck arrived. I’m sure I couldn’t have pulled that off if I had tried. The airport guy puts the fancy jump start kit onto my battery. I waited a few seconds and it immediately turns over. Oh, and as he’s hooking the device up to the terminals he mentions, “tips are greatly appreciated”. Sure, I bet they are. I have a 1, a 10 and a 20. I begrudgingly give him the 10 and don’t ask for change. I then go over to talk to the very nice tow truck driver. I felt kind of bad making them come out all that way for nothing. I ask him if I owe him anything, as he’s already seen what’s going on. No, I don’t owe him anything. He starts to drive off, but then remembers that it might be a good thing to take down the particulars. He does and proceeds to really leave. I get in myself, payout, and leave. So my day, while starting perfectly with getting to sleep in, somehow managed to go downhill pretty quickly. My foul mood was only moderately lived so has mostly warn off, but I still feel a bit of a twinge from the ordeal. :/

Posted in General | Comments Off

Super Tuesday

Posted by Thomas Sat, 09 Feb 2008 03:39:20 +0000

It was sort of funny flying on Super Tuesday. I woke up at like 6:30a so I could be at the polls by 7a, so I could catch my cab at 8a, so I could catch my plane at 10:30a. I left to vote a little late (at 7:15a) and as luck would have it, there was an uber-long line. I finally reached the head of the line around 8a, and quickly voted. In fact, I voted on a Diebold electronic voting machine. I give it a 50/50 chance that my vote was actually cast for the person I was voting for. I voted for Ron Paul, btw… A little late for the cab, but made it to the airport/California fine. The flight was pretty packed, and I had to sit between two older ladies. Other than the soreness from sleeping sitting up and practically not moving for 5 hours, I made it ok. I did watch CNBC the entire time (well, between napping). I probably learned more about the candidates in those few hours than I knew leading up to then.

I’ve already had In-N-Out a couple of times. :)

I also totally biffed it on one of the bicycles they have for us to ride between buildings. Late last night I was returning a bike to the building next to where I parked. I attempted to pop the bike onto a curb, but failed. :( Between the height of the curb and the fact that these have old school brakes where you pedal backwards to brake, I stopped abruptly and catapulted myself over the handle bars. Good thing nobody was watching (although I bet it would have been humorous to have seen — after I was confirmed ok, of course). I only came away with a few scrapes on my hands and a little soreness from catchin my whole weight + momentum on my hands on some concrete. Oh well, I’ll know to think twice before attempting that curb again. And, luckily today, no further bicycle accidents. :)

I totally forgot my Netflix at home. What a waste. :( But I did watch Seduced and Abandoned, which was ok, but I had a bit of trouble following why certain things were going on. Probably would need to watch it again…

Posted in General, Movies | 1 Comment

Billy Barou

Posted by Thomas Mon, 04 Feb 2008 02:18:25 +0000

I watched Caddyshack, probably paying the most attention I’ve ever paid to it. I didn’t watch it outright (i.e. with nothing else going on), but mostly paid attention. I can see where it gets its cult following. I also just finished Waitress which was really good and refreshing in its honest take on life and relationships. At then end I noticed its dedication to the memory of writer/director/actress Adrienne Shelly. Further investigation revealed that she was tragically murdered shortly after it was made. An exceptionally sad and somber addition to the meaning associated with the movie. I also just finished Sunshine, which was recommended to me. I guess I didn’t really get it, because I didn’t really like it…

Posted in Movies | 1 Comment