Year in Ideas

kneebrace

The New York Times has published their 8th annual Year in Ideas. It’s a collection of interesting research and policy changes that have happened in the last year. They cover several projects that we’ve found noteworthy in the past. Pictured above is [Max Donelan]‘s power generating knee brace. It generates power as you perform mundane daily activities. Another pick was the Brickley Engine. It has a unique piston layout to reduce friction for increased efficiency. We were particularly interested in the research that discovered drone pilots become exhausted far quicker than pilots in real aircraft. It’s doubtful that this problem of “sensory isolation” will go away and we wonder what other fields it might appear in. They even mention [Josh Klein]‘s crow vending machine. You’ll find something to pique your interest in the Year of Ideas, even if it’s DNA forensics for dog poop.

[via Waxy]

Comments

  1. Dave says:

    The Brickley engine seems neat at first glance but when the inventor is touting the improvements over a traditional 4 cylinder engine he doesn’t take into account that you would either need double the number of camshafts and somehow spin those shafts (in time)since they would no longer be inline with the crankshaft or use one mini camshaft pure cylinder and timing all four camshafts to the crankshaft would be hell.

  2. Del says:

    @Dave, electronically actuated valves, let the computer handle it.

  3. Dave says:

    Leave me be in my ’80s

  4. dan says:

    the crow vending machine is fantastic!

  5. nubie says:

    I am a bit skeptical about the brickley engine, as far as I can tell it doesn’t offer much improvement over a boxer engine with long connecting rods (IE reduction of bearings and load on bearings).

    As far as the piston skirt goes you can trim the skirt down to the minimum needed on the thrust surfaces and coat it with anti-friction material.

    I am curious to see it go against a boxer with extremely long con-rods and see if it does offer a real benefit.

    To be commercially viable it needs to offer more savings for the money than a competing design, and all the moving parts and weight would seem to negate any efficiency savings with increased material, machining, and servicing costs.

    I think it is neat, don’t get me wrong, just perform due diligence by comparing it to a long stroke boxer (like maybe block spacers on a Subaru engine or something), instead of “standard 4 cyl”, which could be anything from a Ford to a Honda.

    I wonder if similar gains could be realized with asymmetrical bearings to reduce oil surface tension drag on the crank where there are minimal or no loading forces.

    Never mind that the “friction losses” (~15%) are nothing compared to the thermal losses (~70%).

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