Don't Follow Me I'm Lost

Undercover Belgian in London.
Likes to run; wants to run away to far-flung corners; pretends to be a science nerd; works in communications.

S.Arts

Design Icon: The LEGO Brick

The colourful brick that is everyone’s favourite childhood relic.

In 1932, Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen bought a revolutionary piece of equipment - the injection-moulding machine. A plastic pioneer, Ole invested £3,200 on the machine and began manufacturing colourful bricks with hollow tubes on the underside that interlocked. At the time it was a big financial gamble but it paid off. In the past 80 years, over 600 billion pieces have been manufactured and today eight LEGO sets are sold every second.

The LEGO brick was patented in 1958. A clever piece of plastic engineering, each piece must fit snuggly, yet be easy to disassemble. The machines that manufacture each piece do so to an exact degree of precision – down to 10micrometers.

For I conclude that the enemy is not lipstick, but guilt itself; that we deserve lipstick if we want it, AND free speech; we deserve to be sexual AND serious - or whatever we please; we are entitled to wear cowboy boots to our own revolution.

—Naomi Wolf

Diamonds are Forever


Soft black graphite or glittering diamond. In nature, carbon comes in two radically different forms. Recently scientists have taken to manipulating carbon. Engineering new forms. Graphene is just the latest example.

Graphene is a sheet of carbon – only one atom thick. Making it a million times thinner than a piece of paper. It was first isolated by a team from the University of Manchester in 2004. Using the not-so-scientific method of sticky tape to strip a single layer of carbon atoms from a block of graphite.

Just like a tissue, Graphene can be stacked, wrapped, folded or rolled. Yet it is stronger than a diamond and is a better conductor than copper or gold.  It’s no wonder that this new nanoform of carbon is causing a stir.

Hundreds of applications have been suggested to take advantage of graphene’s unusual characteristics. From computer chips to touch screens and even toughening up car tyres.

Because graphene is a good electrical conductor it could provide better quality and faster computer chips. This is still a little while off, it is anticipated that first electronic application of graphene will be as a component of a silicon chip – helping to improve its performance.

Touch screens rely on optically transparent and highly conductive materials. That’s a rare combination. The favourite is currently idium tin oxide but this is scarce. Graphene is highly conductive and largely transparent, so in theory could be an alternative.

Graphene is tipped to be the next big thing. But the technology lags behind theory. Engineers are preserving to make theory a reality.

First Female Solo Flight

Today marks the 115th birthday of Amelia Earhart.

Born on 24 July 1897, Amelia Earhart became the first women to fly solo across the Atlantic. She was renowned for her flying adventures until her sudden disappearance. In 1937, Amelia was attempting to cross the globe when her aircrafts, the Electra, came into trouble off the coast of New Guinea. Amelia and her navigator vanished. Their bodies and the plane wreckage have never been found. 75 years on, new research may discover where the plane came down. Investigators are studying a photograph taken by a British survey team in 1937, using new enhancing equipment to make a clearer image. The image appears to show landing gear and a wheel sticking out from a reef. We may still discover what was behind Amelia’s ill-fated journey.

Lipstick has been around since what seems like forever. Even mesopotamian women in 500BC used their own crude form of lipstick -  slapping crushed gemstones onto their lips. Since then lipstick has evolved considerably and has even had huge social implications.

It was not until the late 19th century that the lipstick industry began to boom. At first the use of cosmetics was not considered acceptable for respectable women. Wearing lipstick was brazen and uncouth. Yet lipstick was making a transition from brothel to dressing room table - actresses with luscious red lips were transforming lipstick into a glamourous accessory.

Everyone wanted a bit of rouge. Companies like Guerlain started to manufacture the first commercial lipstick - which was actually a red dollop of bees wax wrapped in silk paper. It was not until 1923 that the swivel-up lipstick was patented by the American James Bruce Mason. Making it a staple in every ladies’ handbag.

Lipstick was becoming a sign of femininity but also independence; it boosted self-confidence and signalled a step away from obedience. 

In the second world war lipstick sales went through the roof. In times where spending was being reined in, lipstick proved to be an affordable piece of luxury. A moral boost during tough time of war.

In 1940 lipstick caused another stir. Fuelling the age old war between parents and teenage girls. Young girls saw lipstick as a symbol of womanhood. Adults regarded it to be a symbol of sexuality. A study showed that 50% of teenagers argued with their parents over lipstick.

Who would have thought that the humble lipstick could have caused such as stir. Pucker Up!

Lipstick has been around since what seems like forever. Even mesopotamian women in 500BC used their own crude form of lipstick -  slapping crushed gemstones onto their lips. Since then lipstick has evolved considerably and has even had huge social implications.

It was not until the late 19th century that the lipstick industry began to boom. At first the use of cosmetics was not considered acceptable for respectable women. Wearing lipstick was brazen and uncouth. Yet lipstick was making a transition from brothel to dressing room table - actresses with luscious red lips were transforming lipstick into a glamourous accessory.

Everyone wanted a bit of rouge. Companies like Guerlain started to manufacture the first commercial lipstick - which was actually a red dollop of bees wax wrapped in silk paper. It was not until 1923 that the swivel-up lipstick was patented by the American James Bruce Mason. Making it a staple in every ladies’ handbag.

Lipstick was becoming a sign of femininity but also independence; it boosted self-confidence and signalled a step away from obedience. 

In the second world war lipstick sales went through the roof. In times where spending was being reined in, lipstick proved to be an affordable piece of luxury. A moral boost during tough time of war.

In 1940 lipstick caused another stir. Fuelling the age old war between parents and teenage girls. Young girls saw lipstick as a symbol of womanhood. Adults regarded it to be a symbol of sexuality. A study showed that 50% of teenagers argued with their parents over lipstick.

Who would have thought that the humble lipstick could have caused such as stir. Pucker Up!

Design Icon: Goodyear Tyres

Goodyear can lay claim to putting the first tyre on the moon by equipping the Apollo 14’s moon buggy. Supplying car star Herbie with his tyres. And even invented the wacky illuminated tyre! Yet the journey from rubber in its crudest form to the durable tyre that we know today was not without struggle. 

In the early 1830’s ‘rubber fever’ had well and truly gripped America. Everybody wanted a piece of the miracle gum from Brazil that was both waterproof and mouldable. After the initial rubber boom, consumers became fed-up with the sticky material that froze rock solid in winter but turned molten in the summer sun. As quickly as the trend has started it just as soon disappeared.

It took a man named Charles Goodyear and his curiosity in the enigmatic gum five years to develop a solution that allowed rubber to keep its form. After the rubber bubble burst, Goodyear continued to experiment with it; mixing it with talcum powder, boiling it, dousing it in acid and covering it in an array of chemicals. For some of his samples he even painted, gilded and embossed them.

It was not until 1939, when Goodyear accidently dropped a sulphur covered sample into a boiling pot that he came across the chemical process that led to uniform rubber. Through serendipity Goodyear had discovered the process to stabilise rubber, producing vulcanised rubber as we know it today. On June 15, 1844 Goodyear received patent number 3633 for his method.

Whilst Goodyear is considered the inventor of the process to vulcanize rubber, neither him nor his family have a connection with the billion-dollar Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.. The company simply used the Goodyear name to honour the work of the man fanatical about rubber.

Happy Birthday Gideon Sundbäck

The father of the contemporary zip, zip fastener or zipper was born on this day in 1880.

By trade Sundbäck was an electrical engineer but it was his work on the zip that revolutionised fastening devices. Zips are now used across the globe in items ranging from clothes, to luggage bags and camping gear. 

Sundbäck spent eight years perfecting his design, developing the first zip which was not based on the hook-and-eye principle. His invention used interlocking teeth that were pulled into a single piece by a slider. U.S. Patent 1,219,881 for the “Separable Fastener” was issued in 1917.

The zip is a timeless icon, demonstrating the importance of keeping technology and function at the heart of design.

Love Sick

Here’s another blog to continue on the theme of love but this time it might be more to the taste of some of you cynics out there.

As it turns out there is an increasing amount of scientific evidence behind the science of love sickness. Some physiologists have taken a closer looks at love’s outward habits and  have also had a peak inside the human brain.  

Studies have shown that when you first fall in love, that biochemical activity in the brain changes dramatically. Serotonin levels plummet and instead the brain is flooded with dopamine. This leads to a natural high, similar to an addictive drug,  that creates powerful links in your mind between pleasure and the object of your affection. In the same way to a drug addiction it also leaves you seeking that love hit over and over again. Furthermore, Serge Brand of the Psychiatric University Clinics in Basel Switzerland, decided to take closer look at how love can change a persons behaviour. In his study he found that the lovestruck needed less sleep, made compulsive decisions, spent too much money,  were preoccupied as well as obsessively checking for text messages and e-mails.  Some physiologists now believe that the chemical and behavioural changes that occur in the brain of a love sick puppy seem to reflect some aspects obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or people who are mildly insane.

Other emotions linked to love are also influenced by chemical changes in the brain. For example, lust is driven by the sex hormone testosterone which can go totally off-kilter and other hormones such as, cortisol and phenylethylamine which lead to increased excitement.  However, don’t be fooled in thinking that it is only those new to love that are governed by their hormones. Couples who have been together for several years have exhibited increased levels of oxytocin and vasopressin when shown a picture of their sweetheart. Furthermore, oxytocin is produced when couples have sex, touch, kiss and massage each other and is believed to be essential for forming trusting relationships as the hormone make us over come “social fear”, in turn making us more trusting.

Unfortunately, it’s not all wine and roses when it comes to love. Those intense romantic emotions can quickly swing from ecstasy and delight to torment and depression. When the reward centres of the brain fail to get their repeated dopamine love hit, painful emotions such as jealousy, rage, rejection and hate can develop. 

So love is perfect and love is sweet but apparently it’s also just a chronic disease - love sickness.

Love in the Natural World

Just in case you haven’t had enough of red roses and heart shaped chocolates, I’ve got some amazing facts about love in nature from last night’s Night Safari event at the Natural History Museum in London:

Did you know…

Sea horses are some of the most endearing underwater creatures - they dance with their partner for hours, lovingly gazing into each others eyes and intertwining their tails. As the romantic tango continues the pair synchronise their movements and then in a strange twist of fate, the female bestows her eggs to the male, who will go on to carry the eggs and give birth, to up to 1000 babies! 

Creepy crawlies aren’t usually the first creatures that spring to mind when trying to elicit romantic notations, but believe it or not insects are some of the most romantic animals around. They enjoy massaging each other, serenading their love interest and aren’t impartial to using a bit of perfume as part of their seduction technique.  

One of my favourite insects is the weevil. Weevils are a type of beetle and they have a particularly long mouth part called the rostrum. Some weevils even have golden hairs on their rostrum, which they will use to turn on Mrs Weevil by gently stroking and massaging her back. 

In a world where divorce rates are soaring and a prenuptial agreement seems to come as part of the wedding package, it may come as no surprise that people are beginning to question whether true love can exist. One bird that proves it does, is the noble albatross. During their mating dance albatrosses form a bond with their soulmate that lasts a lifetime (and that can be over 50 years for an albatross).

Now if that hasn’t warmed to cockles of your heart I’m not sure what will…