Imagine being able to custom order a house built in one day that is weather-proof, insect-resistant, storm-resistant, and cute as all-get-out. This is being done now with a grown-up size 3D printer, and a good supply of ready-to-build concrete. Not your average size classroom printer, but a superb example of relevant technology application.
This technology is a powerful argument for supplying durable and quickly built housing for those in need; for bulging populations in developing nations; and can be used for more than just houses…with application to building commercial structures. Think of quickly built hospitals in remote areas, or in cities in need of medical facilities. Concrete is everywhere in our modern world and can be used in so many places. This technology is now being discussed and employed all over the world. These homes can be quick replacements for those destroyed in hurricanes, tornados and other natural disasters.
Another innovator was working in concrete and building homes in the early 1900’s. Perhaps you heard of him…Thomas Edison…who in 1908 began experimenting with using large steel molds for building concrete structures–two of his pilot buildings were built on the site of his historic home at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park [TENHP] in West Orange, NJ. Both these structures remain in excellent condition today [a potting shed and a large garage]; and are toured by thousands of public and professional visitors to TENHP every year.
Edison’s durable concrete was later used to build Yankee Stadium. It is worth noting that Edison’s work in concrete revamped the entire industry, increasing typical manufacturing plant outputs by a factor of four. Did we mention he also used his concrete to build the many buildings in the manufacturing complex at his legendary West Orange facility!
You probably already know that Thomas Edison was the world’s greatest inventor. However, he was quite the character too! In fact, his daughter, Madeleine, said that the books written about her father weren’t satisfactory because they made you think “he was sort of a robot and never stopped working.” Below are some things about old Tom that make him a little more human, and a lot more relatable!
1.He loved to play checkers.
While the downstairs living room in Edison’s Glenmont Estate was used mostly for formal entertaining, the one of the second floor was where the interesting things happened. He enjoyed playing board games with his children in this room, particularly checkers. He is among many other notable historical figures that played this game of strategy such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, and Edgar Allen Poe.
2.He preferred the country over the city.
When Edison moved from Menlo Park, the story goes that he gave his wife, Mina, the choice of whether to live in a NYC townhouse or a country home. She chose the country, much to Edison’s liking. He was once quoted in the NY Herald saying, “Oh, I don’t like the city. There is too much jar and excitement there for me. I love the country and quietness. I never go into the city if I can help it.”
3.He had a fear of public speaking too!
Edison had multiple business, was close friends with the celebrities from all over the world, and was interviewed countless times for newspaper articles. However, when it came to public speaking he was just like the rest of us when he said, “Please do not expect a speech from me, as public speaking is entirely out of my line.” He chalked this fear up to his “tendency toward stage fright” and “extreme deafness.”
4.He was homeschooled.
Although Edison received an honorary Doctorate from Princeton University, he never attended college nor high school. When Edison was asked about his education by Harper’s Bazaar, he responded, “School? I’ve never been to school a day in my life! D’you think I would have amounted to anything if I’d gone to school?” For most of his young life, Thomas Edison was homeschooled by his mother, Nancy Elliott. In fact, he credits him becoming an inventor to her and the “good effects of her training [he could] never lose.”
5.He secretly loved sweets!
Edison was as technical with his meals as he was with his inventing. He believed that eating should not be a pleasure and that every recipe should be based on scientific experiment. However, he admitted to his weakness for cookies in a diary entry 1885, “I do believe I have a big bump for cookies. The first entry made by the recording angel on my behalf was for stealing my mother’s cookies.” He also said that pastries, particularly apple pie, rejuvenated him!
6.He wasn’t a very good driver.
Have you ever noticed that many of the photos of Edison riding in a vehicle show someone else driving? There’s a reason for that. He rationalized this away by claiming he used the riding time to think. However, legend has it that when one time Edison was forced to takeover driving for his son who had gotten a bug in his eye, they ended up in a ditch that a horse and buggy had to pull them out of.
7.He always had an excuse to leave formal dinner parties.
According to Edison’s daughter, Madeleine, he liked being around children but hated formal entertaining. He preferred to use his time for inventing! Before most of his wife’s dinner parties, he always conveniently didn’t feel well. Madeleine said, ““He would feign indigestion and skip dinner … being the only man to get indigestion before dinner!”
8.He co-wrote a sci-fi book.
He is much more well-known for his 1,096 patents and well versed in chemistry, however, he did have a hand in writing a science fiction novel too (https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/thomas-edisons-forgotten-sci-fi-novel-180967672/)! Although he didn’t finish the novel before he died, George Lanthrop went on to complete their collaboration called In the Deep of Time, which featured Edison’s ideas of the future!
9.He was quite the romantic!
When it came to his wife, Mina, Edison had a soft spot. He taught her Morse Code just so that they could talk privately when they were around her family. Eventually, he would propose to her in Morse Code too! Can you say -.– . … (YES!)?
Recent geochemical studies show that the chemical composition of the Moon is very similar to that of the Earth—that is, the Moon is made up primarily of terrestrial materials rather than materials from the impacting celestial body. The Earth and Moon are like identical twins. No other celestial bodies we know of share this kind of chemical relationship.
In a recent TED talk, Planetary Scientist Sarah T. Stewart discusses how she discovered new kind of astronomical object — a synestia — which presents a new way to look at the mystery of the Moon’s origin.
Let’s cut to
the chase. Suppose you had a device that could make electricity and hydrogen at
the same time? Think this might be valuable for the renewable technologies
For at least 40 years, the solar-hydrogen connection has been a goal for transitioning from a carbon-based energy economy. Many different concepts and systems have been discussed and prototyped to demonstrate this possibility.
Now, the very capable folks at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab [LBL] have some bragging rights with this technology, having developed a hybrid device. Thy have a novel integration of photovoltaic and electrochemical devices, that could simultaneously meet real-time energy demand while producing hydrogen too.
public literature…..”LBL’s patent-pending
design is a single hybrid photoelectrochemical and voltaic
(HPEV) cell. The HPEV makes dual use of its photon-excited electrons
and thus maximizes its overall efficiency, much as cogeneration power
plants achieve high fuel efficiency by squeezing both heat and power from
natural gas or coal.”
expected the hybrid cell performance will result in almost 7% of incoming
sunlight converted to hydrogen; and 13% of that same light converted into
Think of the possibilities with making a very clean fuel form and electricity simultaneously. One could serve local electric loads and fuel needs, or maybe shipping the fuel form through an underground piping system…either existing or new.
Edison said … “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of
power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle
that. I wish I had more years left.”