Carl Machover 1927-2012

I always thought Carl preceded me in the world of computer graphics consulting. But when we met, in the seventies, he pointed out that he was actually a vendor executive for a few years after I became a consultant, in 1974.

Nevertheless, his entry into the world of CG long predated mine. He was into radar screens, the precessors of computer graphics displays, and his knowledge of both the surrounding technologies and their historical progression was unpretentious but authoritative.

In our time together in the NCGA (National Computer Graphics Association), and through our occasional platform-sharing at Frost & Sulivan events, I learned a great deal from Carl--about presenting, about researching, about writing, and about running a good meeting. 

I'll miss him. I hope Wilma and the kids take comfort from the wonderful legacy of good will and caring that Carl leaves.

Here's a great summary, courtesy of Andy Van Dam:

Posted on Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 01:54PM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment

NASA tests inflatable heat shield

My grandson, Nathanael Miller, is a team leader on this project. You can see him in the foreground of the control room picture, and standing behind the device in the other one. (Am I a proud grandpa? Oh, yes!)

Control room for IRVE launchWith the IRVEFor more info click here.

Posted on Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 11:33AM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment

The most flexible, fascinating robotic gripper!

Check out this video, then click here to read more at the Cornell site. 

Amazing gripper

Posted on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 05:21PM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment Amazing bandwidth achieved using vortices

Infinite-capacity wireless vortex beams carry 2.5 terabits per second

Light spirals

American and Israeli researchers have used twisted, vortex beams to transmit data at 2.5 terabits per second. As far as we can discern, this is the fastest wireless network ever created — by some margin. This technique is likely to be used in the next few years to vastly increase the throughput of both wireless and fiber-optic networks.

These twisted signals use orbital angular momentum (OAM) to cram much more data into a single stream. In current state-of-the-art transmission protocols (WiFi, LTE, COFDM), we only modulate the spin angular momentum (SAM) of radio waves, not the OAM. If you picture the Earth, SAM is our planet spinning on its axis, while OAM is our movement around the Sun. Basically, the breakthrough here is that researchers have created a wireless network protocol that uses both OAM and SAM.

In this case, Alan Willner and fellow researchers from the University of Southern California, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Tel Aviv University, twisted together eight ~300Gbps visible light data streams using OAM. Each of the eight beams has a different level of OAM twist. The beams are bundled into two groups of four, which are passed through different polarization filters. One bundle of four is transmitted as a thin stream, like a screw thread, while the other four are transmitted around the outside, like a sheathe. The beam is then transmitted over open space (just one meter in this case), and untwisted and processed by the receiving end. 2.5 terabits per second is equivalent to 320 gigabytes per second, or around seven full Blu-ray movies per second.


Posted on Monday, June 25, 2012 at 09:00PM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment | References21 References

SAP's acquisition of Right Hemisphere

Last September, software giant SAP announced they were acquiring one of the more innovative companies in PLM, Right Hemisphere: 


As part of its mission to help customers innovate the way they do business, SAP AG (NYSE: SAP) will acquire Right Hemisphere, a leading provider of visual enterprise solutions based in San Ramon, California, and Auckland, New Zealand. The 3-D model-based visualization and communications technologies from Right Hemisphere will enhance SAP® software andenable visual navigation and interrogation of an entire product or asset and all its associated data in one, unified environment.



Engineers are typically visually-oriented, and Right Hemisphere has worked hard to develop ways to optimize processes by visualizing them. In conjunction with the data management capabilities of SAP's extensive suite of enterprise products, Right Hemisphere is behind SAP's Visual Enterprise, that extends from Sales, through Engineering, Manufacturing, and Support functions.

I spoke with Michael Lynch, CEO of Right Hemisphere, in May of 2012. "We are delighted to be part of SAP. Our biggest challenge now is meeting the demand for more information coming from both SAP employees and the firm's customers," he told me.

Righ Hemisphere continues to offer integration with other firms' ERP and product management offerings, including those of Siemens (TeamCenter) and PTC (Windchill).

I view this acquisition as a good move for SAP--and also for Right Hemisphere. The product-management-data visibility that Visual Enterprise brings--literally--to SAP users is sure to enhance their productivity.


Posted on Monday, June 18, 2012 at 02:58PM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment

Good bye, Ray

Some years ago, I shared a platform with Ray Bradbury at a "Technology and People with Disabilities" conference in Northern California. I was awed and thrilled to meet a man whose books had deeply affected me in my youth. What an energetic, joyful, and completely accessible model! Thanks for everything, dear Ray! You will be missed.


Posted on Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 06:20PM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment

Chemical chip uses ions instead of electrons and holes

Chip integrates chemical, logic functions

May 30, 2012

The chemical chip can control the delivery of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This enables chemical control of muscles, which are activated when they come into contact with acetylcholine. (Credit: Linköping University)

An integrated chemical chip that could control and regulate the signal paths of cells in the human body has been developed by Klas Tybrandt, a doctoral student in Organic Electronics at Linköping University, Sweden.

It creates the basis for an entirely new circuit technology based on ions and molecules instead of electrons and holes.

The Organic Electronics research group at Linköping University previously developed ion transistors for transport of both positive and negative ions, as well as biomolecules.

Tybrandt has now succeeded in combining both transistor types into complementary circuits, in a way that is similar to traditional silicon-based electronics.


Posted on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 10:49AM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment

Best piece on teaching science I've read in a long time

Click here to read it.

I also recommend clicking through to "home," and from there, to Reed's book list. He was a key person at Visicalc, Lotus, Interval, then the MIT Media Lab, now at Alan Kay's Viewpoint Research.

Posted on Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 01:02PM by Registered CommenterJoel | CommentsPost a Comment

NASA plays with cereal and crayons

NASA Will Use Cereal and Crayons to Test Jet Engine Sensors

Water forms a cyclonic twist as it is intentionally sucked into the test engine of a U.S. Air Force transport aircraft during the VIPR project (NASA/Tony Landis)
NASA engineers will feed cereal and crayons into jet engines in a test of new aircraft engine health monitoring technology designed to provide early warning of engine problems, including the destructive effect of volcanic ash. NASA's Aviation Safety Program is developing technology for improved sensors to help spot changes in vibration, speed, temperature, and emissions that are symptomatic of engine glitches.

NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California will let jet engines suck up crayons and cereal in an upcoming experiment with a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo transport. The cereal and crayons will leave a colorful trail of grains and wax that the researchers can see and study to gauge how well the sensors work.

The test, in early 2013, will use cereal and crayons to verify that the sensors can detect tiny bits of debris. After that, engineers will conduct a test with very hard, glass-like particles that mimic volcanic ash. Because it is difficult and risky to create problems intentionally on a jet engine in flight, the aircraft will remain on the ground for both tests.   
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Click here for the full story.

Posted on Monday, May 14, 2012 at 09:42AM by Registered CommenterJoel | Comments1 Comment

Levitation, now

Posted on Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 10:10PM by Registered CommenterJoel | Comments1 Comment