Posted tagged ‘science and engineering’

Repost from The Limited Monopoly

December 6, 2010

posted by: Damon Diehl

John Hammond (our patent agent over at  Patent Innovations) and his colleague Bob Gunderman are the authors of a really nice newsletter called The Limited Monopoly. A few years ago they wrote a hysterical article entitled “Patentability and the ‘Long-Felt Unmet Need’—The Christmas Tree Stand as a Case Study.” In the spirit of the season, John has given us permission to share it here. Enjoy!

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NIF in the News

May 3, 2010

posted by: Damon Diehl

CNN has a nice glossy article on the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).  The goal of NIF is to generate energy through controlled fusion triggered by laser pulses. NIF is now the largest laser in the world, a title formerly held by the Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) here in Rochester, NY. There’s some friendly competition between the two projects, but the relationship is fundamentally collaborative. There is a constant flow of technology, knowledge, and even personnel between the two projects. ASE is quite proud of our long history of supporting LLE (almost everyone who works here as also worked at LLE directly or indirectly over ASE’s history). My big contribution to the lab was developing the alignment method for the large mirrors that focus the back and side illumination onto the target during some experiments, a topic we may cover in a future entry, as it has a very nice blend of optics and mathematics (which is what I do best). ASE also has had a big hand in developing the many optical diagnostic packages that monitor the quality of the system as a whole.

“Essential Engineering” on Groks Science

April 5, 2010

posted by: Damon Diehl

I just caught an interesting interview with Dr. Henry Petroski over on the Groks Science Radio Show (a quirky show that I loved long before its co-producer, Charles Lee, moved to my undergraduate alma mater). Petroski is a professor of civil engineering over at Duke, and he’s got a new book out entitled Essential Engineering, which deals with why engineering is essential in the modern world, and how engineering is different from basic science. The subtitle of the book is “Why Science Alone Will Not Solve Our Global Problems.” That phrasing may sound critical of basic science, but that certainly isn’t the intent. Rather Petroski is seeking to elevate the importance of engineering in the public eye so that science and engineering are seen as a partnership and not as a hierarchy. In particular he takes issue with the common misconception that engineering is “just applied science.” On the contrary people often engineer a device before the scientific principles underlying it are understood. This is certainly true in optics. For example magnifying lenses have been used for thousands of years (for example Aristophanes mentions a “crystal lens” in his play The Clouds, circa 420 BCE), but the theory of refraction was not described mathematically until around 1000 CE. (As to who first devised the laws of refraction… I’ll let the debate continue to rage on Wikipedia.)