On a gloomy Saturday afternoon, most Cornell buildings are eerily silent. Not Carpenter Hall. To the uninitiated, its basement seems more like an off-limits factory workspace. But inside, a shiny golden droid, Star Wars’ C3PO, casually rests against a pillar. Right opposite, a mini-rollercoaster fully equipped with a seat to simulate its sudden drops blocks out the clutter of electrical wires.
NASA’s annual climate reports seem to be displaying a chilling trend: 2016 was the third consecutive hottest year on record. With the world’s fossil fuel consumption increasing by 0.6 percent last year, the chances of permanently altered climate patterns are no longer miniscule. However, spurred by the Paris Agreement of 2015, countries seem to be embracing renewable sources of energy. Obstacles, such as their comparative efficiency, remain. That’s where a new study that sheds light on how bacteria metabolize biomass by Prof. Ludmilla Aristilde, biological and environmental engineering, could come in handy.
Ice packs, painkillers and elastic bandages are silent attendees at any sporting event. Capable of soothing sprains and bruises, athletes the world over depend on their support. But swollen and painful joints are not simply a byproduct of physical exertion. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 percent of the world’s population suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and complains of similar symptoms. Its socioeconomic effects are incalculable. Simple painkillers are incapable of mitigating the pain patients suffer.
Before the advent of the Internet television and radios were all the rage. But just like memes, videos, blogs and articles are used to question the role of mass media in today’s society, individuals have been using television and radio broadcasts to do the same for over 50 years. Ruth Kohn Goldsen was one such critic. Once a Professor of Sociology at Cornell, she used her radio show, ‘The Show and Tell Machine: How Television Works and Works You Over’ to critique the culture of mass media. Named in her honour and featuring artwork that explores such critiques, ‘The Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art’ was founded by Prof. Timothy Murray, comparative literature and english, in 2002.
Dementia can be truly debilitating. Categorized by the World Health Organization as a syndrome “in which there is deterioration in cognitive function,” it is a major cause of dependency in the elderly. However, a team of Cornell alumni hopes to ease this process and help dementia patients have meaningful interactions with their loved ones. Over 47.5 million people suffer from dementia, with numbers expected to grow to 135.5 million by 2030. However, the true economic and social cost to individuals and their families is incalculable.
If you’ve ever seen footage of enormous buildings swaying uncontrollably during an earthquake or actually felt the Earth opening under your feet, you would know just how terrifying an earthquake can be. For people in earthquake prone areas who have to endure the natural phenomena on a regular basis, it is important that their homes are safer and more resilient. A project team at Cornell aims to help with that. Cornell University Seismic Design Team, started in 2013, works to model and prototype earthquake resilient buildings as part of an annual competition, Undergraduate Seismic Design Competition, organized by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute. For the competition, various national and international teams submit a prototype of a building capable of withstanding varying earthquake magnitudes within certain architectural constraints.
For all the discussion surrounding artificial intelligence and robots recently, the stiff, dull metal exterior of robots has only recently begun to evolve. While human-like robots, with silicon skin, can simulate emotions but robots with the shape-shifting ability of the Transformers have yet to hit the market. However, Prof. Robert Shepherd, mechanical and aerospace engineering, is developing a material that could soon bring that to reality. Shepherd and his team at Organic Robotics Lab is working on a metal-rubber composite by harnessing the strength of a metallic alloy and the flexibility of a soft silicone foam. The material can withstanding heavy loads or deform under them upon command.
In the ongoing quest for space exploration, an asteroid base like Magneto’s Asteroid M from the X-Men universe seems like a distant dream. If NASA hopes to replicate the sophisticated structures built on the asteroid, it’s going to need tools. Plenty of them. And there’s one team at Cornell that could certainly engineer a few. Cornell University MicroGravity team, one of Cornell’s newest clubs, is collaborating with NASA to create a ‘Float Sample Grabber’ a device that the team hopes will help astronauts safely and securely retrieve rocks from asteroids.