A week of engineering, art and physics

Lockheed Aero Team and Cheik Sana

Last week, we enjoyed a productive visit from a team of aero engineers and designers from the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. We went all over Building 54 and surrounds, looking at wind: how it moves, how it piles up, how it blades over the ridges and streams up the slots. We watched a hawk on a draft.

On the Roof with Henry Segerman and Josh KastorfHawk on the roof of 54.jpg

I want to make the building a beautiful scoop for ridge wind, and I found at least one co-conspirator on the aero team. Their ideas about where to look for power and pileup were really helpful, and their design for a (nearly invisible yet compellingly real) 20-story tall wind sculpture for the blank, windward side of 54 blew our minds.

We’ve been working with others as well – a full team from Tipper Rumpf’s EM Lab at UTEP is here, and their experience and curiosity about what’s possible with solar and with metamaterials is contagious. Bjorn Poonen and Mark Bathe (a mathematician and the leader of a bioengineering team, both from MIT) went aloft with us once, having a look at the radomes, the site. Related work and collaborations are thick on the ground around Cambridge, and we’ve been bonding with mathematician George Karniadakis (on faculty at Brown and MIT, and doing fractional calculus) and there’s a team now over meeting with one of the EM visionaries at MIT – as our ideas are all connected at the core, it takes very little time to find common ground.

The art team is starting to assemble: Josh Kastorf, Ron Lawner, Suzy Marden, Pam Engebretson, Lee Moyer and I have already been mindstorming about everything from message to image, and Kellner Brown arrives tonight, as does Evan McKinnon and another student from UTEP.

Jack Wisdom has been most kind about showing us his chaotic double pendulum. I have been obsessed with this since I first saw it, and as I do in so much of Jack’s work, I find hidden energy; potential sitting right in the open that no one thinks to take.

Imagine my excitement to see others catch the bug as well. I have a feeling that there may even be a pendulum in construction this week at Lockheed. Whatever promise the idea may have for energy, there is no debate about the magic of its presentation, and we all envision using a series or a wall of them to demonstrate various delights of motion, momentum, chaos.

Aero in the Chapel.jpg



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