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Mechanical Engineering. 2015;137(10):30-35. doi:10.1115/1.2015-Oct-1.
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This article focuses on research developments by engineers in developing spine models that can prove to be of great use in the medical industry. Using a combination of force monitors and optical sensors to track position, researchers can find links between body position and spinal loading. Detailed spinal models enable researchers to visualize the loads placed on individual spines. Spine models are expected to become important tools for surgeons. Spinal models can provide that type of information. We can individualize them by modifying our general models with information about individuals captured by video analysis and gathered from MRI and CT scans. These models generate animations that show how the spine reacts to force as it moves in space. They highlight where – and why – discs bulge and shifting sections of the vertebrae impinge on nerves. They automatically pinpoint structural overloads.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2015;137(10):36-43. doi:10.1115/1.2015-Oct-2.
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This article relates history and various aspects of steam locomotive boilers and their relevance in present and future. Prior to 1950, boilers for steam locomotives were built in the United States using primarily lower carbon steel products. The Subgroup on Locomotive Boilers was formed in 2010. Four and a half years later, its work was published as Part PL, Requirements for Locomotive Boilers. The ASME’s Subgroup for Steam Locomotives has taken the approach of codifying both best practices and Code material from steam days. The new locomotive code, Part PL in Section I can truly be looked at as a beginning. New materials and methods will now have a place to be vetted within the unique perspective of steam locomotive operation so as to ensure safe steam locomotive boilers for centuries to come.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2015;137(10):44-49. doi:10.1115/1.2015-Oct-3.
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This article focuses on different research and development tasks intended towards creation of agile swimming robot. Armed with extraordinary agility and electrical sensors that show the location of insect larvae, the black ghost knifefish haunts at night. An underwater robot based on the ghost knifefish could work in the murkiest waters. Malcolm MacIver, a professor of mechanical engineering and neurobiology at North-western University, is building a prototype of such an agile ROV in his laboratory. Active electrosense could do more for ROVs and robots, MacIver said. It may soon be able to distinguish living organisms, including divers, from inanimate objects by sensing capacitance – the ability of a material to induce a phase lag between voltage and current – MacIver reported in 2012 at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. Down the road, the bioroboticists hope to incorporate another ant navigational skill into a robot – a neat ability to detect polarized sunlight and use it to determine compass direction.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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