Archive for December, 2012
Reader Christophe Charron sent me this short animation a few days ago. While not directly targeted towards a Space Elevator, it’s funny and, I think, relevant nonetheless.
Christophe sends me this explanation:
Here is “Un petit plat pour l’homme”, one of the funniest short film, I think,about cooking in space (a french and epicurean vision of).
This is Corentin Charron (aka Onectin’s) third year’s short-film, from Supinfocom Arles.
- Assigned topic: “The Kitchen”
- Used softwares: 3ds Max 2012 (scanline only), After Effect, Premiere and Photoshop
Neil Amstrong’s “That’s one small step for man…” could be translated “Un petit pas pour l’homme” and the title of the film is “Un petit plat pour l’homme” (phoneticly near) that can be translated as “One small dish for man”
Nothing like a good bottle of wine to make the meal complete - thank you Christophe!
December 12th, 2012
Today was the second and last day of the 2012 BEST Competition - South Regional. Like the first day, it was frenetic, well-organized and a lot of fun. To get the main bit of business out of the way, the overall winner of the competition was the Cornerstone Christian Preparatory Academy from a suburb just outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Their overall score in several categories, Competition, Engineering Notebook, Display Booth, and some other categories, was the highest and so they were the overall winners. After the competition was over, I was able to track them down (not very hard - I just followed the sound of the loudest cheers) and spent several minutes talking with them and taking pictures - a great bunch of kids. They were trying very hard to talk me into visiting their school in the near future and talking about a Space Elevator - maybe we’ll be able to do it via Skype…
Regarding the Climber competition itself, there were certainly no new Engineering principles at work here - they were robots, assembled from a Kit. I have posted a video of one of the competition runs at our new channel on YouTube: ISECdotORG. But the whole idea of the BEST competition, as I have written about earlier, is to encourage middle-school and high school level kids to get interested in techie stuff, science, engineering and technology. It certainly seems to have succeeded in doing that and I’m truly grateful that Mr. Brent Percival of Auburn University (where this competition was held) called me up (out of the blue) one day earlier this year and asked if ISEC would be interested in participating. We did spend some of our funds on sponsoring this competition and a few more of our dollars on hand-outs (posters, business cards, CLIMB Volume 1 and the ISEC report on Debris Mitigation) and I think it was very well worth it. I had people talking to me almost the entire time I was there about the Space Elevator.
Just before noon, one of the competition organizers came up to me and told me that I and 9 other vendors / sponsors would be stationed at tables outside the arena. The idea was to give each of the kids participating in the competition a card with spaces on it for 8 different types of “stamps”. Each of us at a table would have a stamp and, as the kids came around and talked to us, we would stamp their card. If they were able to get all 8 of the stamps on their card, it would go into a drawing for a door prize. However, there were only 8 stamps for our 10 tables. At any one time, 2 of us would not have them. I had a steady stream of kids and their parents coming up to my table, wanting to get their card stamped and wanting to talk about the Space Elevator. Even when it wasn’t my turn to have a stamp, very few of the kids drifted away when they found that out - they really like the idea (and kids love posters and I had a lot of them to give away!). I had no idea this was going to happen - completely caught me by surprise. But it was a fun way to spend 2 hours, even if the back of my neck did get a little bit sunburned…
People sure treat you nice when they find out you’re a sponsor :). I was given an ‘all-access’ pass and was able to go anywhere I wanted and talk to anyone I wanted. I made a point of introducing myself to the event announcer. When I found out that his son was very much into robotics and the idea of a Space Elevator, I made sure to give him a copy of CLIMB, an ISEC Report, all 4 years of posters that we have and a couple of years of Conference proceedings to give to his son. I wasn’t looking for any favors, just trying to get the word out, but boy, did ISEC get top billing whenever they thanked their sponsors! Every other sponsor was just mentioned by name. When he mentioned ISEC, he raved about how this group was really working on the idea / project of building a space elevator. I would say, with a very high degree of confidence, that fewer than 10 people at the event knew about ISEC when the event started. But by the time we were finished, I had people coming up to me to talk to me, people would point me out when I walked by, everyone would say “Thank you for helping out this event”, etc., etc., etc… We truly did get some excellent publicity at this event.
A case in point was at the end of the competition and I tracked down the team from Cornerstone. Many of them knew who I was and what ISEC was about and they insisted that I join them for a group photo (which you can find on our Flickr account; ISECdoORG, along with other photos from the 2-day event). That was pretty cool…
There was just a lot on fun, techy-nerdy stuff going on too. Each of the teams could submit a short video which was then displayed several times during the competition - and a winner was chosen at the end of the competition. The winning video was a play on Star Wars, with the punch line being “May the Centrifugal Force Be With You” - I love it! But my personal favorite (which took 2nd place) was about how Thor was banished from Asgard by his father. Naturally, he landed in a Science Class and, after he told the students his plight, they built him a Space Elevator so he could return home - very creative.
Each of teams had a mascot. There were robots (lots of different kinds), Sharks, Eagles, Tigers, etc., and, today, they held a “Dance-off” - again the top three each being awarded a prize. The audience really got into it (and so did the referees!). I took a video of the first round of competition, but didn’t post it as it did get a bit long. But the finals were short and fun and I’ve posted a video of that too. Sorry for the not-great quality. I tried to make my Canon point-and-shoot do double-duty (pictures and videos) and it just doesn’t do a great job on videos. But the final result was OK and I think you’ll enjoy watching it. And I’m also sorry that the song they danced to was “Gangnam Style” - it seems to be everywhere!
I think that’s it. I do want to sincerely thank the BEST organizers and the Auburn staff, especially Mr. Brent Percival who invited ISEC to participate, for all their kindnesses - they truly showed what Southern Hospitality was all about and they ran a great competition.
(The top photo thumbnail is of the representatives from Cornerstone, hoisting their trophy in triumph. Not great quality - taken on a camera phone so I could Tweet it right away. The bottom thumbnail is of my favorite poster at the event. Click on either to see a full-size picture and visit ISECdotORG on Flickr to see more photos from the Event).
December 3rd, 2012
70 degrees today here in Auburn, Alabama. Sunny skies, very little wind - just a delightful day. So what am I doing? I’m inside all day watching the South Regional BEST competition!
I’ve posted before about what BEST is, so will concentrate on today’s event in this post. Most of the day was setup and practice - actual competition didn’t begin until 5pm. These were preliminary, ’seeding’ matches - 4 teams competed at one time, with the best 2 moving on to tomorrow’s finals. On the ISEC Flickr account, I’ve posted the best of the pictures I took today - more tomorrow, I promise. Also, I’ll have a video tomorrow of one of the competition runs. I captured one today but it turned out to be of very poor quality. Memo to self - don’t use the zoom feature of my Canon point-and-shoot when recording video.
Each team was given a kit to make a climber out of. In this sense it is very similar to the LASER competition held by the Japan Space Elevator Association. The tether belt was shorter than the one at LASER - maybe 5-7 meters tall. There were various types of ‘payload’ that the Climbers had to grab and either go up the tether with it and put it in its proper location or else grab it from the top of the run and bring it back down to the bottom. The teams have 3 minutes to get as much payload moved as possible.
The results of the competition are only one part of a team’s final score. The booth they had, the engineering project workbook they made and a few other items all were part of it too.
The competition is really well organized. They have lots of judges and referees, teams are staged before they actually are let into the competition area, scores are kept electronically and, in general, it is a very orderly process. But it’s not quiet, oh no! Each team has a cheering section and it reminded me of a European Soccer match. Waving flags, chants, etc., and with music pounding in the background. Each team also has a mascot, so there were high-school kids dressed up as robots (many varieties), sharks, war eagles (the Auburn mascot) wandering around all day too, just to add to the festivities.
As ISEC is a sponsor of this event, we have our logo in all of the literature and it is also shown on the Scoreboard over the Arena - the first time, I think we’ve been up in lights! I also have my own table where I spent a good part of the day hanging around. I brought several copies of CLIMB, the ISEC Report on Space Debris Mitigation, posters from all 4 years, some Conference proceedings and a few copies of the National Geographic that the Space Elevator and ISEC was featured in. And, oh yes, lots of ISEC Business cards. I only put out half of the material today which was a good thing, because by the end of the day it was all gone. I’ll hand out the rest of it tomorrow. It was also a lot of fun talking to the competitors, their teachers and their parents about the Space Elevator. Even with the cold I have, all in all, a great day.
And, if you want up-to-the-minute information, follow us on Twitter and/or on Facebook at ISECdotORG!
(Picture thumbnail is a close-up of one of the Climbers. Click on it to see a full-size version or visit our Flickr page (ISECdotORG) to see more photos).
December 2nd, 2012
There is never an opportune time to get sick, but here I am, with a cold, at the South’s regional BEST competitionin Auburn, Alabama. I’ve been very fortunate to have traveled to many, many places, both inside and outside the US, but I don’t think I’ve ever been to Alabama. Last night was my first experience with Chick-Fil-A and, I must say, the sandwich lived up to the hype.
I’m staying at a Best Western hotel in Opelika and at breakfast this morning, there were a lot of teams/team members there - very neat to see…
Competition doesn’t begin until 5pm today at the Auburn Arena. The time prior to that is setup and preparation and I’m looking forward to wandering around the arena, introducing myself (as much as my sore throat will let me), taking pictures and, in general, just soaking up the competition atmosphere.
Gonna be fun!
(The picture thumbnail is of team #408, in the hotel parking lot, getting a last-minute briefing from one of the adult members. Click on the thumbnail for a full-size picture.)
December 1st, 2012