Earthquake-activated house-levitating pneumatic system

The  Air Danshin Systems company of Japan says it offers pneumatic technology to protect buildings in the event of an earthquake. The shaking triggers a stream of air that levitates the house. The diagram below, from the company, shows to some extent how the system works, with blue representing the stream of air. (The Spoon & Tamago blog […]

Bacterial Builders, Inspired by Ancient Pyramids

The title of this study speaks volumes (albeit a bit cryptically): “A robotic micro-assembly process inspired by the construction of the ancient pyramids and relying on several thousand flagellated bacteria acting as micro-workers,” S. Martel and M. Mohammadi, IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems, 2009, IROS 2009. 10-15 Oct. 10-15,2009, pp. 426-7. (Thanks […]

How to disassemble a skyscraper (if you have the money)

The engineers who designed and built the very tallest, most skyscraping skyscrapers said very little about whether – let alone how – someone could safely disassemble such a colossus, should the need arise. About the only person who thought about it long and hard was the writer and illustrator David Macauley. Decades ago, Macauley published […]

Resonance: Aerobic exercisers shake skyscraper

Resonance is a simple physics concept (which can be expressed in lovely mathematics). Two Korean news reports tell about a recent example: Aerobic exercise blamed for tremor at Techno-Mart A form of aerobic exercise performed by dozens of people caused the vertical vibration felt in certain floors at Techno-Mart, a 39-story shopping mall in Gwangjin-gu, […]