Happy Friday, everyone. As a treat, here is a cool video from The Slo Mo Guys taken at a testing laboratory at Purdue University.

Reinforced concrete is truly an amazing product that is critical to the structural design and integrity of most modern buildings. The utility of the material comes from its ability to resist both compressive force as well as stretching. Concrete on its own has great compressive strength, but relatively little tensile strength without steel reinforcing.

That’s fairly common knowledge among most people in the building industry, but how many people can say that they’ve seen what rebar looks like when stretched to breaking?

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Perhaps because of the requisite remote control making it look and feel like a toy, for some reason people seem to think that drones are just toys. Not that they can’t be a ton of fun — it is just that they can really screw up the already complicated and difficult to understand airspace above our heads.

Consider then the following points:

  1. The FAA has incredibly detailed and complex regulations governing every aspect of flight, right down to the toilets in the lavatory and the screws securing the overhead bins
  2. The FAA has been very vocal about its intent to regulate both recreational and commercial drone operations
  3. You don’t mess with the FAA

I learned this last point firsthand during the ground school portion of my flight training prior to earning my private pilot license. And now it seems that a prominent commercial drone photography operator is learning that lesson as well, according to Digital Trends:

A Chicago-based company that specializes in aerial photography using drones has agreed to pay a $200,000 penalty to settle a case brought by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which had accused it of violating aviation regulations. The figure was a significant reduction on the colossal $1.9 million the FAA had originally proposed.

The company, SkyPan, will also have to hand over an additional $150,000 if it breaks FAA rules in the next year, and another $150,000 if it fails to comply with the terms of the settlement agreement.

The flights at the center of the dispute took place over Chicago and New York City between 2012 and 2014.

Without a doubt, the biggest rising trend in the architecture, engineering and construction industry is health and wellness. In the mid-80s, the World Health Organization released a report on the impact of indoor air quality on building occupants. Perhaps the most damning portion of the report was the finding that “energy-efficient but sick buildings often cost society far more than it gains by energy savings.”

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Masdar was supposed to be Utopia. Celebrated starchitect Norman Foster would preside over the design of the world’s first “Zero Carbon City” that would rise out of one of the most inhospitable environments in the world: the middle of the Arabian desert, near Abu Dhabi.

That project kicked off in 2006, and a decade later, things have taken a slightly more realistic approach in order to avoid become the world’s greenest ghost town. Foster + Partners is no longer at the helm, having been replaced by Boston-based CBT Architects. According to FastCo Design:

Although it is being billed as the “next step in the evolution of Masdar City,” phase two marks a decided shift away from Foster’s original plan, toward something more attainable. You may notice a subtle change in terminology: Once touted as the first city to zero out on carbon emissions, Masdar is now being described as “low-carbon.” When I speak with [CBT principal] Varanasi, he initially glosses over the change in plans, maintaining that the overall vision of building a sustainable city is still the same. But when asked outright, he admits that the zero-carbon goal has been scrapped. Instead, he says, the goal of CBT’s phase two master plan is to build on Foster’s plan to create a city that is “highly sustainable and commercially viable, providing a high-quality lifestyle” for resident. […]

One of the ways CBT’s plan most strikingly diverges from earlier master plans for Masdar is the way it breaks up property. Where the old plans called for very large plots to be developed by one single entity, the phase two master plan will see lots of private lots sold off to developers who will design and build their own buildings. This is how most city plans work, and the thinking from CBT was that it shouldn’t be different just because a city is meant to be sustainable. “There is still a regular day-to-day market economy aspect to phasing in sustainability,” says Varanasi. “There are 50 blocks in phase two and maybe 50 different developers and architects building it. It’s a real city.”

This whole Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle would be really hilarious, if it didn’t represent a major risk to life and limb for consumers.

Adding insult to Samsung’s injury, and in an effort to prevent injury to both consumers and postal workers, Samsung took the unusual step of sending out flame-proof containers for people to return their devices as part of the recall. According to Ars Technica:

The kit contains a special “Recovery Box” that’s lined with ceramic fiber paper to provide some protection against incineration. Samsung warns that some people will have a bad reaction to this lining, so the recovery kit also includes some gloves to protect your hands. They don’t appear to be flame retardant, so if your Note 7 is currently ablaze, we’d suggest minimizing contact with it.

For a little background, after initial reports of spontaneous combustion of the flagship devices started popping up, Samsung started to replace devices. But then, the replacement devices began exploding and causing injuries themselves.

So on Monday, October 10th, Samsung took the embarrassing but responsible step of recalling ALL Galaxy Note 7 devices, ending production. The move will likely cost the company up to $9.5-billion in lost sales, eating up nearly $5.1-billion in lost profit.

 

My son was just a few weeks old when I got my Blackberry. He turns 15 in two weeks. Risking repetitive stress injury to my thumb, that device allowed me to keep a $500-million R&D campus construction project moving forward, while still being able to go to doctor appointments and spend time with my young family.

It was when I successfully declined a meeting invitation and then rescheduled that meeting for a later time—from the comfort of a blanket on the beach—that I finally realized what a profound impact the Blackberry’s functionality would have on people’s lives. It took Apple showing the world what was truly possible with mobile technology, and Blackberry’s repeated missed opportunities have now led to its downfall, according to CNET:

BlackBerry’s decision closes a significant chapter in one of the most storied franchises in the phone industry, and it puts an even higher premium on the company’s shift of focus to software and services. BlackBerry was among the high flyers in the early days of mobile phones. Legions of “CrackBerry” addicts in the white-collar workforce tapped away at its trademark physical keys in the early 2000s.

Like many other companies, BlackBerry failed to anticipate the rise of Apple’s iPhone and of phones running Google’s Android software, which knocked BlackBerry back on its heels for years. Consumers have paid little attention to its phones despite the company’s attempts to modernize the BlackBerry software and, in a last-ditch effort last year, to embrace Android.

It’s been an unstoppable descent. In 2009, BlackBerry controlled one-fifth of the phone market, just behind Nokia. Today, it holds a tiny fraction of 1 percent, according to Gartner.

It is Awards season again—no, not the Emmy’s or even the Country Music Awards or whatever—I’m talking about the always entertaining Ig Nobel Prize ceremony held last night at Harvard.

Every year, for the pasts 26 years, researchers in unique and obscure niches are awarded prizes celebrating their scientific achievements. Just like the real Nobel Prize, winning an Ig Nobel means cash, and lots of it. $10-trillion in fact.

Too bad the money is minted in hyper-inflated Zimbabwe making it almost worthless…

Associated Press has more:

Ahmed Shafik decided rats needed pants.

He dressed his rodents in polyester, cotton, wool and polyester-cotton blend pants to determine the different textiles’ effects on sex drive. The professor at Cairo University in Egypt, who died in 2007, found that rats that wore polyester or polyester blend pants displayed less sexual activity, perhaps because of the electrostatic charges created by polyester. He suggested that the results could be applied to humans.

The study did not explain how he measured a rat’s waist and inseam.

Some incredibly sad news from New York Daily News:

A dizzy spell may have caused the death of a New Jersey architect who fell off a midtown skyscraper, officials said Friday.

Bruno Travalja, 52, of Ridgewood, N.J., was wearing a safety harness but it wasn’t tied to anything when he plummeted from a deck on the 47th floor of the skyscraper at 153 W. 53rd St. near 7th Ave. Thursday afternoon, officials said.

He was taking measurements when he plummeted, landing on a second floor ledge at the rear of the building, police said.