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Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(10):30-34. doi:10.1115/1.2005-OCT-1.
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This article highlights the dependence on petroleum and its products for the major share of the world’s transportation fuel create special dangers in our time. These dangers are all driven by rigidities and pot entail vulnerabilities that have become serious problems because of the geopolitical realities of the early 21st century. Those who reason about these issues solely on the basis of abstract economic models that are designed to ignore such geopolitical realities will find much to disagree with in what follows. Although such models have utility in assessing the importance of more or less purely economic factors in the long run. The attractiveness to the consumer of being able to use electricity from overnight charging for a substantial share of the day’s driving is stunning. The average residential price of electricity in the United States is about 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(10):35-39. doi:10.1115/1.2005-OCT-2.
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This article reviews that flow batteries can turn intermittent wind power from a utility manager’s burden to a green and reliable energy source. Customers and the popular press have made it exceedingly clear that they expect wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources to play an increasingly important role in generating the electricity that powers modern society. This desire is often driven by concerns about air quality, public health, and energy security, among other factors. For a utility planner, any intermittent source is not dispatchable. A dispatchable energy source can be scheduled for use at the planner’s convenience. Among renewable energy sources, hydroelectric and geothermal facilities are also dispatchable, within the natural limits of the resource availability.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(10):44-46. doi:10.1115/1.2005-OCT-3.
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This article discusses in less than 40 years, a novelty has grown into a mainstay of engineering practice. Only a few forward-looking technology companies invested in computers, primarily mainframe systems. While bringing the benefits of data management and real-time processing to engineering, the mainframes were also a headache. Engineers spent countless hours correcting functional problems and writing programs. The programs, particularly large-scale ones involving difficult computations, were executed in batch processing mode, meaning that the engineer had only one attempt each day to run the programs. The engineering community must advance computer technology to the level where engineers can validate a structure completely using computational tools, without having to develop physical models and prototypes. The next step is cognitive information processing using the computer to actually mimic the attributes of the human brain.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2005;127(10):48-52. doi:10.1115/1.2005-OCT-4.
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This article focuses on mass production that is generally seen as an achievement of the 20th century based on roots in the 19th century. The developing art of printing was aided by contemporary innovations in technology. The magnifying lens arrived in northern Europe just in time to be useful. Gutenberg’s introduction to printing via religion probably led to his decision to go on to produce a Bible. The proceeds from the famous Bible printing, which was done in 1456, went only to his collaborators after he was forced to cede his business to them. Today, the idea of pressing inked metal into paper is quaint. Fonts are made of electrical impulses. But the legacy of the Renaissance printers remains with us.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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