Author Archives: admin

Story About Being Lost Overground

I have written a little story called ‘Lost Overground’ that could also be about geometry, courage, non-random-walks, cyclic activities, fate, gardening, or day-dreaming on a job. Perhaps it’s a technical report about a trivial incident, or a visualization problem for a student to solve. Is it an incredible tale? Make of it what you will.

Free ePub eBook about Symmetry

I have now made a free eBook available in ePub format with the title ‘Some Rather Mechanical Reflections on Symmetry.’ This is based on the inaugural lecture that I delivered in 2008 as a Professor of Dublin Institute of Technology. The ePub version of Some Rather Mechanical Reflections on Symmetry can be read on a range of devices and is in colour for those devices that can display colour. The ePub book can be read on a PC using Adobe Digital Editions.

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Is Boxing, as Played, a Cruel Sport?

I was appalled by a short video clip of a boxing competition that I saw, once, on Ryan Tubridy’s Late Late Show (a popular chat and entertainment show on Irish television) last night, 10th December, 2010. It showed the end of a match between two boxers, the victorious one of which was a guest on the show. I presume they were professional, because they were not wearing any head protection. One boxer was noticeably taller than the other. This was the closing sequence of the match and it depicted a relentless attack on the head of the taller boxer by the smaller boxer, which continued unabated until the referee intervened, when the taller boxer appeared concussed.
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Lismullin Post Enclosure, Co. Meath, Ireland

I attended the public lecture entitled ‘Iron Age Post Enclosure at Lismullin’, which was delivered by Frank Prendergast at the Dublin Institute of Technology on 2nd November 2010. Frank, a colleague from the School of Spatial Planning, had carried out a thoroughly professional analysis of spatial archaeological data that had been gathered during the painstaking archaeological removal of top soil prior to the construction of the M3 motorway. It was the construction of the motorway that had led to the discovery of the former existence of an iron-age wooden post enclosure at this location. Frank pointed out that no visible indication of the post enclosure had existed before the motorway-related investigations. The archaeologist who had led the dig and staff of the UCD School of Archaeology were present at the lecture and contributed significantly to the discussion that took place afterwards during the ‘questions’ session.
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Kindle 3 Impressions: Accolade

I received my Kindle, 6-inch screen, wireless-only version, on 14th October—sixteen days ago. I am hugely impressed by the overall product, so much so, in fact, that is awarded the Fun-Engineering Accolade for Excellence for October 2010 for the Kindle 3.
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Engineering Failures at Irish Rail

This week the Railway Accident Investigation Unit’s report about the Malahide Viaduct Collapse has been published. I am unhappy at the response so far to the extremely serious non-disaster that occurred along the viaduct on the 21st August 2009. The structural failures that occurred, owing to inadequate inspection and preventative maintenance, could have caused a large number of fatalities and a large number of injuries. It is extremely fortuitous that this was a non-disaster, rather than a disaster. In consequence of the hair’s breadth between the actual direct consequences of what happened and what the consequences could have been, a very serious shake-up of the status quo is called for and I do not feel reassured by the recommendations in the report of the Railway Accident Investigation Unit or the written response that has been published by Irish Rail.
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After the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

In the Irish Times of Saturday 7th August 2010 Claire O’Connell has brought together a number of facts and points of view relating to ‘After the spill’. This accident cost human lives and caused injuries. The economic cost of the mistakes that have been made is enormous. The environmental damage is also enormous and its full extent will only become know in the course of time. Claire O’Connell points out that everyone, especially governments, must learn the lessons of the disaster. It seems deep-water exploitation of oil reserves is continuing in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere—it is to be hoped that those responsible are fully mindful of the issues.
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GOM Oil Spill Concerns

From following the updates at the official site of the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command (which has been at I expect that the well will be permanently plugged within a matter of weeks at the most, all going well. Nonetheless, as an ordinary engineer and academic who is following what is going-on out of interest, I consider there are a lot of open questions and things about which to be somewhat concerned.
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Trying to Make Sense of the Gulf of Mexico Disaster

I have trawled the web in my attempts to understand and make sense of the Gulf of Mexico oil leak disaster. I still do not understand it and I would like more information to help me to understand it. As a Mechanical Engineer I feel professional shame. Engineers learn from disasters and it will be very important to learn all possible lessons from this one.
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Major Tractor Safety Breakthrough

A final year student at the Dublin Institute of Technology has made a major technical breakthrough in tractor safety. James O Meara, a final year Manufacturing and Design Engineering student, won the Innovative Student Engineer 2010 (Level 8) award sponsored by Siemens and Engineers Ireland for his project. Details are available at
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