LL :: Volume 41 :: LR
|As Thick as Hazy Footing|
The entire Southwest District has installed tracking pavement on all
pedestrian surfaces. The paved surface begins as a normal bland beige
color; but as people walk on it, it changes to a brilliant blue-green
color, as if a surface coating were wearing off. Enough traffic will
turn the blue-green to magenta, then to yellow, then deep sea-green,
then rose, then white. (The colors are bounded by a bit of neutral
beige, not by chromatic blending.)
This scheme differs from earlier frangible-layer art mechanisms in that it tracks the rate of pedestrian use, not the total use. In other words, the surface seems to grow back over time. A well-travelled yellow route which loses popularity will fade to magenta over the course of a few weeks.
(Some logic is also in place to ensure that individual footsteps never show up. They are always moderated to a continuous, if uneven, path of color.)
|Fads of the Home|
A house in Sandline is attracting some attention in the foam, for having
an architectural stuffed animal. Specifically, a giant plush snake --
two and a half feet wide through the body. It begins upstairs, with its
tail curled around a bedpost and flopped over the bed; it runs down the
upstairs hallway (up one wall, across the ceiling, down the other wall at
the far end). It curves down the main stairs, nips around the inner corner
of the dining room, and sprawls into the living room, where it loops back
and forth a few times (forming floppable-upon pillow seats) and finally
leans its (yard-long) head companionably against the sofa.
Several people have noted that they intend to reconfigure their living spaces with similar designs. One is planning a two-story-tall penguin.
|Flora of the Age|
Wall-wort is a shrub derivative which grows in straight lines. When it
sprouts, it picks a horizontal axis, sends out branches in opposite
directions along that axis, and grows from there. (The axis is essentially
random -- the gene-hackers tried to get fixed directions from an
asymmetric seed, but there was up to 20 degrees of variation, so they gave
up that approach. You can dig up the root ball and replant it, or just
plant the stuff in a large pot -- it thrives that way.)
The wort forms a vertical web of interwoven branches, up to eight feet high. At full growth the wall is nearly opaque with leaves. A single root will support a spread twenty feet across; but if there's arable soil (or even another pot), the shrub will form additional root-balls and just keep growing indefinitely in both directions. Until, that is, it runs into something. The branches will not try to push through a barrier. Not even an intermittent barrier, such as a wire-mesh fence -- or another wall-wort.
Elbow Rods are an unpowered form of flexible joint. An elbow rod is
made of a crys-metallic substrate. It is laid down with one extra
molecular rank in each layer of the crystal, from the bottom of the
rod to the top. This causes a sharp bend in the rod, which is
engineered to be exactly 90 degrees.
The molecular layers, of course, do not bond well along the bend's (short) length, since the atoms are misaligned. But they do bond along the rest of the rod; and they disengage and re-engage easily. Thus, the bend can "slide" down the rod's length, nearly from one end to the other. (The ends of the rod are bonded so that the bend does not pop out entirely.)
The sliding motion -- actually, it feels more like rolling -- is extremely low-friction, and does not degrade the rod. Furthermore, the bend is not a weak point for twisting, bending off the plane of the rod, or expanding/contracting the right-angle bend. The rod behaves like a rigid form -- except for its single degree of freedom.
If you anchor one end of the rod, the other end moves freely along an axis 45 degrees from the base. If you join another rod to the end of that one, the free end can move in a plane. Three rods with their bends at right angles gives you entirely free movement -- but still useful, because the volume is bounded. More complicated arrangements expand the possibilities.
Elbow rods are an easy and cheap option for quite a number of mechanical applications. They can often replace sliding bearings (drawers, sliding doors, etc) with much lower friction, quieter motion, and increased strength.
|Life of the Mind|
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