You know, there's just something about creative destruction that appeals to engineers. Homemade rockets, explosives, high-powered potato guns, liquid-oxygen ignited barbecues, and medieval siege engines. All exhibit that seductive mix of science and things that go boom . . . or splat. If you don't have the materials or space to build your own trebuchet, you might want to go and play on GlobalSpec's Treb Challenge page. GlobalSpec has created a game wherein you can tweak the projectile's mass, the trebuchet's settings, and even gravity, and try to achieve accuracy, distance, or power.
Homeland Security is a fascinating growth area for sensors. Here's a page that describes the Urban Security Project at the Dept. of Computer Science, State University of New York—Stony Brook. The researchers are developing techniques to simulate, predict, and visualize how airborne contaminants move in complex urban environments. They use embedded sensors to acquire data and then use graphics hardware and numerical methods to model multicomponent flow dynamics in real time. Be sure to check out the Gallery section.
If you need more ammo than Dilbert can provide in your ongoing battle against corporate-speak, take a peek at the BuzzWhack site. Here you'll find definitions of current buzzwords as well as examples of truly horrific press releases.
(By truly horrific, I refer to a release that is so filled with buzz-speak that it is rendered incomprehensible and content-free.) If you're in a position where you need to write this stuff, please read and learn from others' mistakes.
New to Bookshelves!
Analog and Digital Circuits for Electronic Control System Applications Using the TI MSP430 Microcontroller
Author: Jerry Luecke
Published by Newnes, an imprint of Elsevier
The book explains the functions in the microcontroller's signal chain and explains how to design electronic circuits to perform them. The book's 10 chapters cover signal paths from analog to digital and from digital to analog, sensors, signal conditioning, A/D and D/A conversions, digital system processing, examples of assembly-language programming, data communications, and system power and control. The last chapter gives a detailed sample microcontroller application.
This soft-cover book includes a CD containing a user's guide to the microcontroller family, layout wiring of PCB interconnection layers, and an e-book version of the text.