some discoveries of 2007

{villa rotunda by palladio ~ photo by stephen wassell}

besides being a design & architecture geek i also get giddy over science & mathematics. when reflecting back on 2007, as one tends to do on the last day of a year, what sticks out most in my mind are the science-related break-thrus & discoveries that have occured this year.there are 100's of them, but what i want to focus on are some of those top science stories that are most connected to the design & architecture world ~ bringing together my geeky fascinations and hopefully giving you some new concepts to ponder for the future.....

~ first steps to wireless electricity
thanks to wireless technology, rechargers {and maybe even power lines} could become a thing of the past. in july, researchers at m.i.t. extended the wi-fi concept to allow the beaming of power to anything that uses electricity {now being dubbed "witricity"}. the m.i.t. wi-fi power demonstration, first published in the journal science, and more info on the details of how they did it can be found here.
certainly this will lead to architectural changes when we no longer need wires to connect us to power lines or cords for our electronics & appliances in order to power them. though the technology is still in its infancy, there is something truly amazing about a 60-watt bulb lighting up spontaneously 7’ from the nearest power source, without any wires marring the view. a completely wireless world is on its way people, and i can't wait!
{photos from emerging technologies blog}

~ math breakthrough in mosques
a study of patterns in 12th to 17th century mosaics in islamic mosques suggests the mulsim scholars made a geometric breakthrough 500 years before mathematicians in the west. grad students at harvard & princeton noticed a striking similarity betwen certain medieval mosque mosaics and a geometric pattern known as a quasi crystal {an infinite tiling pattern that doesn't regularly repeat itself and has symmetires not found in normal crystals}. a pattern found in the darb-i lmam shrine built in 1453 in isfahan iran not only never repeats when infinitely extended, its pattern maps onto penrose tiles {components for making quasi crystals discovered by oxford univ mathematician roger penrose in 1970s} in a way that is consistent with the quasi crystal pattern. i love the idea of using mathematics to calculate patterns in fabrics, flooring, wall tiles, and even furniture placement in a room.

~ a glass that bends
in march chinese researches announced that they had created glass that can be bent into right angles without shattering. but this isnt' glass as we know it: the new glass is opaque, twice as strong as window glass & made of metal. these bulk metallic glasses {bmg's} are superstrong and contain areas of high density surrounded by regions of low density. the result: very flexible glass. this could be used in a plethora of design & architecture projects eventually, but right now is mostly for mass-production high industrial projects currently due to prohibitive costs. i even have a project we're working on right now that we'd love to be able to use bmg's for. ahh someday.

{photo from wikimedia}

~ great ancient city unearthed in syria
in northeastern syria there is a 130 foot mound jutting above the northern fringe of the mesopotamian plain called tell brak. within it archeologists from univ of cambridge, univ of edinburgh and harvard univ have unearthed one of the earliest & largest cities in the region {& therefore the world} this past year. previously it was believed the most substantial cities arose in southern mesopotamia in today's iraq. close examinations have revealed the brak settlement extended over 136 acres in the preiod of 4200 to 3900 bc, larger than any other settlement fo the time.
i suppose this isn't adding to any modern design conveniences but i find archeology fascinating and it amazes me how much we continue to discover about how ancient civilizations once lived especially, of course, through their architecture and design.

{photos from archatlas}

many thanks to discover magazine for much of this information.


vineeta said...

Angie, What a brilliant, informative & generous post that was!! Witricity!!! Glass that bends! OMG! bring it on! And how amazing aand not amzing it is to discover that ancient civilizations had already figured out what we are slowing figuring out now- talk of re-inventing the wheel! :) Still, like in everything else, there is merit in understanding things 1st hand, so to say 'coming to your own truth'.
Thanx for putting this amazing post together! Love it :)

studio wellspring said...

thanks very muchly vineeta ~ i'm glad you enjoyed my bit of geekiness. :o)