Saturday, 6 June 2015

I thought I'd say "Hi" :) I know there's a lot of members but I'll have your names sorted out in...

I thought I'd say "Hi" :) I know there's a lot of members but I'll have your names sorted out in a jiffy ;)
I'm a "resting" freeleance BA. My most successful / high risk project as a BA? The merging of the inward payment processing business systems (located hundreds of miles apart) of the Inland Revenue and the VAT Office when the two UK government departments became HMRC.
I was responsible for almost the entire UK Treasury's cash flow. No headlines, no big media witch-hunt, just a smooth transition from as-is to to-be. Probably one of the largest, most successful projects you never heard about.
Keys to success? Pragmatic use of SSADM and my insistence on including a trade union rep on the project board. This made sure that  the workers' personal requirements could be accomodated as far as was possible in the big upheaval that the merger brought about. It also de-risked the project by having the trade unions and staff "on-side".

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Asteroid impacts 3.3 billion years ago may have boiled the oceans

The chaos in the early Solar System was fiendish. Even after the planets had coalesced, there was more than enough rubble left behind to cause frequent and violent impacts that would have rocked the Earth’s youthful crust. After a phase of intense bombardment between about 4.1 and 3.8 billion years ago, things on the asteroid collision scene calmed down. Relatively speaking…

We don’t know exactly when life first developed on Earth, but we know it was present by 3.4 billion years ago. We don’t know if life was present to suffer from the earlier period of bombardment, but we know it was around for any impacts that followed. So what kinds of extraterrestrial punches did life take after 3.4 billion years ago?

A new study by Stanford’s Donald Lowe and Louisiana State University’s Gary Byerly examines a fascinating record of major impacts in South African rocks around 3.3 billion years old. Eight impact layers have been identified in these rocks, each containing sand-sized blobs of rock that solidified after the impact vaporized bedrock. The layers also show signs that they were hit by tsunamis shortly afterward.

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Pratt Fashion 2015 - Laboratory

sophie andes cascon

Congratulations to Pratt's fashion design class of 2015. Last Thursday, designer Sophie Andes Gascon took home the Cotton Inc. award and Claire McKinney won top honors from the senior class' prestigious Liz Claiborne award. Actress Rose Byrne attended the event to present Calvin Klein's design director Francisco Costa with the Visionary Award.

Pratt fashion design graduates executed experiments in the laboratory of style

The theme for this year was "Laboratory". You could see this interpreted in each of the student collections. There were exercises in fabric manipulations or treatments from designers like Giovanna Flores and Shani Starinski. Avant-garde materials and surface embellishments were used by designers like Lauren Nahigian and Chantal Galipeau. Creators tested different draping techniques and pushed the boundaries of clothing silhouettes as seen in the collections of Landry Low and Katya Reily.

pratt fashion design show

Liz Claiborne winner Claire McKinney's collection was a study of denim. Perhaps a response to all of the surface treated skinny jeans dominating the industry in recent years, her group were filled with big, easy silhouettes. Some were boxy, more masculine or loose and comfortable. Accessories and unique garments showcased the interior construction details as exterior design elements.

While FIT's graduate show showcases the Future of Fashion in terms of the designers, The Pratt Fashion Show 2015 approach was to show it through the clothing execution itself. Both design philosophies show a lot of promise. Good luck graduates!
Photos courtesy of Pratt Institute
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Microchip captures clusters of circulating tumor cells

Researchers have developed a microfluidic chip that can capture rare clusters of circulating tumor cells, which could yield

The post Microchip captures clusters of circulating tumor cells has been published on Technology Org.

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Mirror Installations by Shirin Abedinirad Reflect the Sky in Stairs and Desert Dunes








Iranian artist Shirin Abedinirad explores issues of gender, sexuality and human compassion through her site-specific installations, performances, and conceptual fashion designs. Seen here are two recent public works, Evocation (Iran, 2013) and Heaven on Earth (Italy, 2014) that utilize mirrors in both an urban and rural desert setting to reflect the sky above, perhaps mimicking the color or form of water. Abedinirad studied under Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami and now splits her time between Tehran and Florence. You can see more of her work on her website and on Tumblr. (via Cross Connect)

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Space Image: Parachute Testing for NASA’s InSight Mission

This parachute testing for NASA’s InSight mission to Mars was conducted inside the world’s largest wind tunnel, at

The post Space Image: Parachute Testing for NASA’s InSight Mission has been published on Technology Org.

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Funniest Tutorial Names?

Funniest Tutorial Names?
My "day job" is as a freelance business analyst. I created a web-based tutorial using the ficitious Acme Fashion Operations as the basis for it.
Trying to brighten up a dry subject, I chose these fun names for the people who work there. Which one made you giggle the most?
Was it Pippa Trale the filing clerk? Or perhaps Bo Sibbuts, the team leader?

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The unexpected beauty of carbon nanotubes and graphene

The Conversation

We all know engineering is useful, functional, even ingenious. But the engineering photography competition we hold each year provides us a chance to wander outside its merely utilitarian aspects into dimensions such as beauty, humor, and even humanity to find unexpected connections and poetic resonance.

As one of the judges, one quality I look for in the images is some added dimension, a richness, the capacity to trigger a cascade of unrelated ideas. Quite by accident this year a few of the photos shared an unplanned underwater theme.

The winner (above) appeared to be a starfish. There was a column, perhaps from a pier, encrusted with coral and barnacles.

Concrete Crack Bridge for Self-Healing, electron microscopy prize winner, by Tanvir Qureshi. | (The Conversation/CC BY: Cambridge University)

Then there was a strange ghost fish, the likes of which might range in Challenger Deep.

Web of Science I by Christian Hoecker. | (The Conversation/CC BY: Cambridge University)

Of course they were none of these things: they were images of carbon nanotubes and graphene, but the forms that emerged at these micro- and nano-scales are familiar from elsewhere in nature.

The winning photo shows a fine pentagonal shape — I lecture on geometry and a question I ask the audience is: "When did you last see a pentagon?" They're quite rare. They can be found in passionfruit flowers, or the shape of one of the most well-known buildings on the planet. But pentagons in the wild are something of a collector's item — and this a fine example.

Extrapolated Art II, second prize winner, by Yarin Gal. | (The Conversation/CC BY: Cambridge University)

Second prize went to a re-imagining of a van Gogh painting, as the artist may have painted had he a larger canvas. Based on a playful use of mathematics, a computer algorithm analyzes a pattern and style and extrapolates it to fill a larger area. It demonstrates the new science of machine learning that is now entering our lives, from junking spam emails to the product or content recommendations websites suggest.

Francis the Engineer, third prize winner, by Anthony Rubinstein-Baylis. | (The Conversation/CC BY: Cambridge University)

Third prize went to Francis the Engineer, an image that represented the human dimension of engineering. The children's smiles are fabulous, but emphasize not just happiness, but relief at having their essential need for clean drinking water met. Engineering is not all about jet engines, smartphones and nanotubes.

Fractured Rainbows: Mode II Cracks in Glass I, by James Griffith. | (The Conversation/CC BY: Cambridge University)

The glass shear pattern is striking, like a flow of lava, or molten sugar, there are hints of rainbows among the sumptuous red — so many positive resonances from what is essentially a piece of broken glass.

Stretch and Swirl I, by Dhiren Mistry. | (The Conversation/CC BY: Cambridge University)

The similar stretch and swirl image of fluid dynamics reminds me of the timeless pleasure of watching the flicker of bonfire flames, but freeze-framed so you can admire their inner structures: paisley patterns and curling vortices — all this found in what is essentially the inside of an engine chamber.

Carbon Nanotube Clover Field, by Michael De Volder. | (The Conversation/CC BY: Cambridge University)

The two images of graphene revealed symmetrical patterns of clover and flowers. The four-leafed clover is a symbol of good fortune, and here there are fields of them, looking like a some architect's plan of futuristic tower blocks.

Graphene Flowers II, by Mari Ijäs. | (The Conversation/CC BY: Cambridge University)

The red flowers have six-fold symmetry, and although we rarely give prizes to images created on a computer (it is so much easier to make pretty virtual shapes than to actually build them at the nanoscale) this one pleased with its interconnecting shapes, representing the electrical flow across a graphene lattice.

Natural Engineer in the Field II, by Audrey Hon. | (The Conversation/CC BY: Cambridge University)

An old bridge over the River Cam at the back of the engineering department in Cambridge, supported by two truss beams: the photo shows what is known as the "web" of the beam, the vertical face between handrail and deck. And within the web, the photo captures another: the spider's web shares the same structural principles — the flow of tension within the silk matches that acting on the steel diagonals. I sometimes think that bio-mimetics is often accompanied by overblown rhetoric, but the unspoken simplicity here appealed to me.

A contrasting landscape, by Calum Williams, Yunuen Montelongo & Jaime Tenorio-Pearl. | (The Conversation/CC BY: Cambridge University)

This nano-scale image is decidedly other-worldly, unlike any landscape I ever saw, despite its title. Perhaps it's where they leave planets to dry before sending them out into the universe. I like how an image of something so small can so readily conjure the impression of something so vast. Perhaps we have the microscope the wrong way round.

Birefringence Earth's Magnetic Field, by Long Teng. | (The Conversation/CC BY: Cambridge University)

The same applies to the magnetic field image: taking aside the extraordinary iridescent colors produced by birefringence (the property of refracting light in different ways), it is an image of something so small as to be almost invisible, yet we see only the Earth itself. I think William Blake said something about that once.

You can see the complete set of photos here.

Allan McRobie does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

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DARPA laser research boosts airborne death rays, tiny laser scanners

This week has been laser week at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, with two very different laser-based programs hitting major milestones: an inexpensive array of lasers on a single chip that can be used as sensors on drones and robots and a killer laser system that could blow up missiles, shells, and possibly vehicles and people.

Yesterday, DARPA announced the successful test of a single-chip laser detection and ranging system that makes it possible to build inexpensive, lightweight short-range "phased array" LADAR that could be mounted on small unmanned aircraft, robots, and vehicles. The technology could bring low-cost, solid-state, high-resolution 3D scanning to a host of devices in the near future.

Called SWEEPER (Short-range Wide-field-of-view Extremely agile Electronically steered Photonic EmitteR), the sensor technology embeds thousands of laser-emitting dots microns apart on a silicon chip—creating a "phased array" optical scanning system that can scan rapidly across a 51-degree arc without the need for mechanical rotation. In the latest test, the system was able to scan back and forth across that entire arc more than 100,000 times per second.

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Merging galaxies break radio silence

In the most extensive survey of its kind ever conducted, a team of scientists have found an unambiguous

The post Merging galaxies break radio silence has been published on Technology Org.

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Ralph Pucci: Art of the Mannequin

How often do you think about the mannequin? Ralph Pucci is an accomplished product designer who frequently collaborates with the top fashion designers like Diane Von Furstenburg, Ruben Toledo, Christy Turlington, Anna Sui...

Is a mannequin just a big doll where you hang clothes on like a coat hanger? Or is a mannequin the embodiment of our perceptions of the ideal body in our time period, changing cultural trends, our Pygmalion? This current exhibit at the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC examined the work of Ralph Pucci who elevated the work of creating a mannequin into an art form.

Most retail store forms are ordered from the same catalog across the continent. They don't reflect the time period or personality of the brand they are being used for to sell clothing. The Anna Sui mannequins have wide eyed doll heads that echo the vintage collectibles she gathered from flea markets and decorate her store. Kenny Scharf's "swirly" mannequins a reflection of recurring characters in his paintings. Supermodel Christy Turlington's seated mannequin was molded after her own face in great detail to capture a naturalistic vibe to complement her yoga brand. A collaboration with Ruben Toledo resulted in a stylish plus-sized mannequin to serve the growing strength of full figured fashion trendsetters.

The creative process included modelling the shapes from clay, then casting a fibre-glass finished product. Pucci began using this craft as a design and art medium after inheriting his parent's mannequin business in the 1970s.

There were mannequins that barely even represented the human form. There were mannequins that were in dramatic motion poses, even a handstand. No one said a mannequin should only stand stiffly. Is it about making a tool to display a commercial product? Or is a mannequin a method of giving a visual soul to a commercial product? This was a fashion museum exhibit equivalent of "The Emperor Has No Clothes". Just like great style lets one look beyond the clothes to see the person, this retrospective forces you to see the creative work underneath the fashion.

The Ralph Pucci: The Art of the Mannequin exhibit runs until August 30th, 2015.
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Doppler on Wheels–the biggest ‘dish’ on the road!

For nearly a decade, with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Doppler on Wheels (DOW) has been

The post Doppler on Wheels–the biggest ‘dish’ on the road! has been published on Technology Org.

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Segmented Glass Sculptures by Jiyong Lee


Illinois artist Jiyong Lee uses a special glass technique called cold working to create his unusual segmented sculptures inspired by the growth of cells. The artworks, part of a series called Segmentation, are created without glass blowing or kilns, but instead through a labor-intensive process of cutting, sanding, laminating, and carving. Lee shares about his work via his artist statement:

The segmentation series is inspired by my fascination with science of cell, its division and the journey of growth that starts from a single cell and goes through a million divisions to become a life. I work with glass that has transparency and translucency, two qualities that serve as perfect metaphors for what is known and unknown about life science. The segmented, geometrical forms of my work represent cells, embryos, biological and molecular structures—each symbolizing the building blocks of life as well as the starting point of life. The uniquely refined translucent glass surfaces suggest the mysterious qualities of cells and, on a larger scale, the cloudiness of their futures. The Segmentation series is subtle and quiet yet structurally complex.

To be clear, the images you see here are photographs of Lee’s work and are not digital renderings. His extraordinary attention to use of color and translucency in each object creates surprising optical effects. You can learn a bit more about Lee’s work in the video below from the Corning Museum of Glass and see some of his recent sculptures at Duane Reed Gallery. (via Faith is Torment)










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