Friday, November 23, 2012

On track with SAP - Composites

Concerns in the faster and lighter areas drastically outweigh the cheaper ones when it comes to a Formula 1 racecar (a palindrome, by the way). To that end, the engineers use a ridiculous amount of high-technology materials in the efforts to shave an ounce or two from the car's weight. The most stunning comment in this video came about 0:58 for me - the chassis only weighs 45 kilograms.

I know freshman - little freshman - at my school who outweigh the chassis of a Formula 1 racecar.

What the heck?

Jet engine testing (superalloys)

I know a couple of our master teachers who should NOT watch this video because of their little fear of flying thing.

I, on the other hand, have no fear of flying at all. I don't fly very often - about twice in a typical year - and am totally relaxed when I am flying because I know that airplanes are overengineered to the point of ridiculous safety. I hope...

This video shows Rolls Royce testing one of their jet engines in the case of engine turbine blade during an event of catastrophic failure. The super slow-mo footage of the turbine going off balance and recovering is actually terrifically reassuring to me as a passenger.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"Liquid Fire" to Metal Sword in minutes! - A History of Ancient Britain

So many ancient arts have been lost and are recovered and relearned by various people throughout the decades. Here we see a trio of Brits cast a bronze sword, something that would have been commonplace a few centuries ago but that now looks almost like magic to us today.

It's gorgeous to watch, and their enthusiasm ain't bad, either.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

One box of Girl Scout cookies worth $15 billion

As a chemistry teacher, hearing the quote "carbon is carbon" about 1:20 into this video just made my day.

In the video researchers from Rice University Labs turn girl scout cookies - trefoils from what I can tell - into graphene on copper, and the girl scout troop then performs some simple tests on the graphene sheet, clearly testing the conductivity (or resistance, maybe) of the product.

FYI: What's the lightest metal on Earth?

If you answered 'any lump of metal somebody else is carrying,' then you're sarcastic.

If, on the other hand, you answered 'metallic microlattice,' I'm thinking you probably already watched the video.

The challenges of materials science often boil down to some combination of 'make it lighter, cheaper, stronger.' Cut down the material's weight, and we can cut down the cost to ship it, to fly it, to make it, to throw it away when we're finished. Make the material stronger, and we can use less of it for a longer time and can push harder with or on it.

It seems that every time we start to think that we can't make strong materials from less material, somebody comes along to prove us wrong. According to a Popular Science post...
The key structural component is a series of hollow tubes. In a study published last November in Science, the researchers exposed a light sensitive liquid to UV light through a patterned mask, which created a three-dimensional photopolymer lattice. They then deposited a layer of nickel-phosphorous onto the polymer lattice, which was then etched. The remaining structure was a macroscopic material with hollow tubes as the base structural elements. The resulting material had a density of .9 mg/cm3. By comparison, ultralight silica aerogels are 1 mg/cm3.
I've held aerogel. I've let another ASM master teacher (cough-Becky-cough) break my aerogel, and to think that this material is lighter than aerogel is pretty impressive.

I'm putting the video after the jump because it auto-plays. Click through to watch.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why Things Fail: from tires to helicopter blades, everything breaks

I'm really digging on Wired magazine's materials science coverage of late. I don't know if they're intentionally adding more reportage of materials or if it's a coincidence. I'm happy either way.

This month's issue has an article on Ford's Building 4 testing complex in which they test automotive parts - gas pedal hinges, engines, even entire vehicles - to failure and try to develop a failure analysis curve to show how long they can expect to have a part survive under typical circumstances. The article also covers Vextec - a failure analysis company - and their efforts to computerize the failure testing process, developing a way to model materials on the computer, create thousands of virtual versions of the material, and test each of them to failure without making and destroying thousands of prototypes, something that aligns wonderfully with the Materials Genome Initiative.

Good stuff here, plus it's about cars...always cool.

Point Pleasant Silver Bridge Part 2

Today is the 72nd anniversary of the failure of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge - a more famous bridge collapse here in the US than the one shown in the video here. I'll post that video in a bit, but this one caught my eye for MatSciWit because of the discussion of the failure detection methods used here to find out why the Point Pleasant Silver Bridge over the Ohio River collapsed in 1967. They video uses computer recreation and eye-witness testimony to explore the pitting corrosion, tension/compression in manufacturing, and material failure on the suspension bridge.

This is merely the middle of three parts to the video. Check out the other two after the jump...