Friday, December 28, 2007

The Dakotas

Hey, I'm on vacation, but my friend Chris kindly suggested a great design idea.

Check back after the new year for Sink Pause Buttons and UltraLight Household Irons.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I'm on Core77!

Check me out! Thanks, Hipstomp for supporting my sketch idea -
Check out the original post here

Air-Tram Concept - the Next Generation

Hey I started researching precedent for this idea, and I'm pretty excited about the real possibility of developing it. Check these out:
Find out more on this site that I put together to summarize the idea and explain why I'm looking for an engineer to talk to.
Email me if you're interested, or if you just like the idea.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Air-Tram: A Conceptual Alternative to the SF Proposed Subway Addition

So a few weeks ago I posted a "crazy" idea about high speed gondolas flying across the city. See: Another Crazy Transportation idea: High speed sky trams.
But when I read that San Francisco had a $1.2 billion proposal in the works to extend their subway system, I thought some more about the concept and realized maybe it wasn't such a crazy idea.
The proposed subway route goes down two wide straight long streets. Would it be cheaper to build above the street instead of below? And isn't it a seductive idea to build a super-light supension bridge across the city? A suspension system supporting only rails and a few rail cars could be extremely light and unobtrusive to the street view. If anything the modest towers would be an iconic addition to the skyline and elegantly express the city infrastructure.

This video is my first sketch of this concept. My intention is not to convince anyone that this is a good idea. My intention is merely to convince people this is a possible alternative worth considering. The next step is to develop the idea and compare its price tag to a new subway addition. I'm not banking on it, but I have no reason yet to discount it either.

This posting is a perfect example for what this Sketch Portfolio is about - A crazy dumb idea gets stuck in my head and the more I think about it, the more it starts to look more like a good idea.

Thoughts from the best seat in the house:

So I'm a little embarrassed about this post. but the theme of this Sketch Portfolio is to not be scared of dumb (or uncouth) ideas. Besides we all do some of our best thinking in the bathroom.

So how many of you hate opening a new roll of toilet paper? I think it's stupid that we have to pick at the glue-stuck sheets to get it started. Watch this video.

Sorry, now you'll probably be even more annoyed every time you pick apart a new roll of TP.

Other Bathroom ideas:
Tankless Grey water urinal:
One innovation of the Green Building movement is using Grey Water to flush toilets. The conventional method is expensive however: Water flows to a central tank that treats the water and then redistributes it to the toilets. You basically have to run double plumbing throughout the building.

But I always thought you could do it this way: Just run the water straight from the sink down to a urinal tank. The tank would fill up and flush when ever it was full. This should give the urinal plenty of daily flushing. And who cares if the sink water goes untreated to wash a urinal? If anything I'd think the soapy water would just help clean the urinal.

Every time I've mentioned this idea to architects they immediately decided it wouldn't work. But then someone told me that they saw it done like this in Japan. Here's to the Green Movement.

One more thing while I'm on toilets. A couple years ago I saw this idea of dual-level flushing - I thought it was a good idea, too bad it didn't seem to catch on.
Along that line, I've always thought there could be a female urinal - seriously, it would save a lot of water. I have two ideas that would work just fine, but I think I've gone far enough with this posting. I'll leave it to your imagination. Happy thinking -

Monday, December 10, 2007

The "Three Gorges Dam" & the Earth's rotation

Don't bother reading this unless you just happen to be curious about these sorts of things. Seriously, just skip this one. It's probably self-indulgent and nonsensical.

So Here is an email I wrote to some people at a science radio show. I know it makes me sound crazy, but whatever that's why the title of this blog is a disclaimer. Besides, I think it's pretty interesting.

Hey guys -
So I recently heard that the partial filling of the Three Gorges Dam on June 1 2003 was theoretically supposed to alter the earth's rotation slightly by .06 microseconds (from
). This perked my interest, because theoretically you could use this event to "weigh the earth" without using gravity like a Cavendish type experiment does. I know that the numbers would almost certainly be too sensitive to get any meaningful results, but I still think it is an interesting thought experiment:

In a Cavendish experiment we use gravity to measure the earth's density and then derive values for the gravitational constant and the mass of the Earth. However, in this Three Gorges Dam thought experiment couldn't we could measure the mass of the earth without using gravity? We can measure the mass of the water, we know how the angular momentum of the earth is effected by holding that water back to a "unnatural" line of latitude. (for this angular momentum equation we also need a density map of the earth which I'm pretty sure we measure with seismic refraction.) And we can measure changes in the rotation of the earth with crazy accurate GPS.

Here's why I can see that this data wouldn't be valuable.
Assuming we can even measure the .06 microseconds accurately, can we filter that number out from the 2/1000 sec/day/century change in rotation caused by tidal friction (I'd bet so), and from the constant fluctuation in rotation (up to an order of 10^-6 seconds) caused by the erratic seismic activity in the earth. (I'm guessing no way) (numbers also from

Then even if we can filter out the .06 microseconds, is our seismic refraction model good enough to compare the change of the earth's rotation with the mass of the earth and the water's mass and position? (I'm guessing no again)

But nevertheless, it seems like an interesting thought experiment anyway, you think? If we wanted to bad enough, I could imagine doing a very long term experiment that could use this same concept to measure the Earth's Mass and therefore the Gravitational Constant without directly measuring the gravitational force.

I tried writing to NASA scientists Richard Gross and Benjamin Chao to see what kind of data they collected, but my email bounced back. Oh well, wanted to share the idea with someone and thought you might get a kick out of it.

Thanks guys - Eric

Monday, December 3, 2007

Music Notation in color

There has always been a small tradition of using color to notate music. I made this a few years ago to help with improvisation on the guitar. (click image to enlarge)

Music theory uses a language of letters and numbers. You can find alphanumeric fretboard maps like this all over the Internet. But it is useful to translate this map into color because (unless you're color blind, sorry fellows) our brain is very good at processing color. Unlike when we read, we can can process color peripherally - at a glance we can see patterns over a large area form a holistic model of the fretboard.

If playing a song is like tying knot - following instructions and then committing it to kinetic memory - improvising is more like untangling a complicated knot in your brain. You have to understand how different knots relate to each other in changing contexts.

This fretboard color map lets you see intuitively how pieces of melody fit into a larger context. It helped me to stop relying on kinetic memory alone and to start really thinking about what I was trying to play.

(For you musicians: I'd like to see this develop into a web application: You should be able to change the color scheme from the root key to the key of different chords in the song by pushing a MIDI pedal (or in a pinch, by clicking a mouse). Ideally, there could be more than one map overlayed on top of one another so you could see the relative parts of scale for different chords. For example in they key of G, you could intuitively read that B is the 3rd of the root, the 5th of the relative minor and the 6th of the Dominant. Maybe we could use shapes and color together: It's amazing how quick your brain can toggle between reading squares vs triangles to reading blue vs red.)