Author Archives: admin

A Pen that Would Remember

Imagine a ball pen that would remember what it writes, whether sketches or hundreds of pages of text. When I thought of it in May of 2008 I did not know that such a device had already been invented, but realised that most of the elements that would comprise the invention were already there in existing technology. I subsequently learned that a very similar device to what I had in mind had been invented and was being commercialized. This was the EPOS-enabled Digital Pen and USB Flash Drive from Advanced Digital Positioning Technologies (
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Plug Rather than Channel the Leaking Gulf of Mexico Oil Well

I saw on TV this evening that BP is now setting about fitting a hose onto the leaking oil well. This slip-on hose arrangement is referred to as a lower marine riser package cap (LMRP); see information available at
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How to Plug a Leaking Oil Well in Deep Water

Drawing of an arrangement for taper insertion

Proposed device for taper insertion into an oil well riser

In the light of the current oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of the United States it would seem that not enough engineers thought about how the well might be plugged in the event of such a leak. I was disappointed to learn on TV news that initial attempts to stem the leak have been unsuccessful. The difficulty of working at a depth of a mile below the surface of the ocean is not to be underestimated. I am not familiar with all the technologies that are used, but I could not avoid thinking about the problem over the past few days.
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On a Proposal not to Remove an Historic Gas Engine from a Modern Thermodynamics Laboratory

Photo of Crossley gas engine

Crossley gas engine

Currently, the majority of my colleagues in the Department of Mechanical Engineering would seem not to be in favour of removing an historic Crossley gas engine from the thermodynamics laboratory. A proposal to the effect of leaving it where it is, while making some major changes to the layout of the laboratory, is being drawn-up.
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DAB – 30 Years of Engineering Progress

Photo of Bush CDAB5R DAB stereo radio

Bush CDAB5R DAB stereo radio

Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) became available where I live yesterday. I had given my wife a present of a Bush CDAB5R DAB stereo radio for Christmas in the knowledge that DAB radio transmissions were due to become available. This replaced a Waltham W152 mono transistor radio (FM, MW and LW), which was about thirty years old. The Waltham was a low-cost radio when I bought it and was not of high specification for the time. However, it served without fail and there was never any justification for replacing it as the counter-top radio in the kitchen.
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Microsoft’s Equation Editor: the Good and the Glitches

I had problems over the last few days, which turned out to be because of glitches in Microsoft Equation Editor within Word 2007. Lecture notes I had written suddenly lost whole sections or when I pasted in good parts of a document that had got messed-up into a new document the formatting of the new document instantly got messed-up. That was very frustrating, as I was under pressure to have my lecture notes prepared.
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The Very Basics of Sustainability – an Alternative Viewpoint

Globe showing land areas for different sea levels in succession

Animated views of world land areas for different sea levels

When I actually calculated what the land and sea areas of the Earth have been and might be in the future and when I considered the amount of time it takes for the sea level to change (even with our current high usage of energy and fossil fuels), I had a better perspective on the issue. It is a far more serious matter that, for example, in my lifetime the population of the Earth has more than doubled and a large fraction of the population has living standards that would generally be considered unacceptable.
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Sustainable Energy, Environmental Protection and the Nuclear Energy Question

A conference entitled Sustainable Energy and Environmental Protection takes place from tomorrow, 12th August, 2009, at Dublin City University and I am putting the final touches to my presentation, which I will deliver on Friday 14th August. My presentation is entitled ‘The Very Basics of Sustainability–an Alternative Viewpoint’. I am in favour of continuing to evaluate all of the options that are available to humankind. I favour allowing the best technologies to win out in the marketplace, but subject to global coordination and regulation that would ensure safety and would prevent exploitation of the common environment by some in a way that would be unfair to others who share the environment.
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