The Empire State Building in New York City

The Empire State Building: High ambitions

19.06.2017

What’s feasible?

1929: „How high can you go so it won’t fall down?“ John Jakob Raskob (one of the executives representing the Empire State, Inc.) is said to have asked the architects of the prestigious new edifice, Shreve, Lamb & Harmon. The main objective being to devise the highest building not only of New York City, but of the entire world. Initially they had hoped that 80 daring storeys should suffice. Yet, there was a fierce my-skyscraper-is-higher-than-yours competition going on in NYC in the first third of the 20th century and construction of the rivalrous Chrysler building was already in full swing when Raskob’s project just got started. Walter Chrysler’s building did become the tallest one, albeit temporarily. In the end, he was outraced by just a few metres of the finest Art Deco architecture shining brightly at 350, Fifth Avenue.

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TED Talk: Making ears from apples

TED Talk. Andrew Pelling: Making ears from apples

18.06.2017

„My lab is not in the ear-making business. What I’m really curious about is if one day it will be possible to repair, rebuild and augment our own bodies with stuff we make in the kitchen,” says Andrew Pelling who leads a university-based biological research lab. Usually, he likes to rummage through garbage and often digs up discarded hardware he first dismantles and then reassembles into something completely new. Could that also work with a biological system? Creating human ears from apples may be far-fetched, but seems feasible: the lab removed apple cells and DNA and implanted human cells instead. The result was a cellulose scaffold with a structure that could be carved into a human ear!

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A Gianluca-Gimini Bike

It’s all about perception: Gianluca Gimini’s bikes

31.05.2017

Drawing objects from memory can be a tricky affair not seldom crowned by a shattering outcome. Bringing even the most familiar of items to paper free-style may turn into an insoluble challenge. Yet unintentionally, it does occasionally (or frequently?) lead to astonishing creations – and to the „construction“ of somewhat adventurous contraptions. Such as the bikes computer-simulated by Italian designer Gianluca Gimini according to sketches made by a random group of people. He had confronted them with one simple task: to draw a men’s bike by heart.

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The legendary Ju 52 is a flying treasure and a fine example of German aviation heritage.

Junkers Ju 52/D-AQUI: „Only Ju“

31.05.2017

When gifted inventor Hugo Junkers’s two companies (for engines and airplanes) were merged in Dessau in 1936, the first Ju model – the D-AQUI Fritz Simon – was just about ready for its maiden flight within the Lufthansa route service in April that year. Junkers stroke it lucky with his newly developed aircraft, which is said to have made him the most successful manufacturer of passenger planes worldwide, a happy circumstance to last for many years to come. As for D-AQUI – originally constructed as a water plane – constant changes of ownership in varying countries down to abandonment marked her turbulent path.

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Artificial Intelligence

TED Talk. Sam Harris: How can we build AI without losing control?

26.04.2017

The scenario Sam describes in his talk is disconcerting, even terrifying, but likely to occur: AI – artificial intelligence – could ultimately destroy us or inspire us to destroy ourselves. „One of the things that worry me most about the development of AI at this point is that we seem unable to marshal an appropriate emotional response to the dangers that lie ahead.“ Sam’s concern is that one day machines built by us might treat us with the same disregard as ants are treated by us. „It seems overwhelmingly likely, however, that the spectrum of intelligence extends much further than we currently conceive, and if we build machines that are more intelligent than we are, they will very likely explore this spectrum in ways that we can’t imagine, and exceed us in ways that we can’t imagine.“

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