I am a member of AAAS, and while that organization’s Science News articles written by its journalism staff are long on who did the research and where they work, their articles are sadly short on the nitty gritty. Fortunately, AAAS also publishes the journal Science, which minutely details cutting-edge research applicable to multiple research disciplines. Good mag, that.
I love to read about science and engineering. Science indeed feeds the former, but not the latter. A long-ago workplace’s engineers used to pass around engineering trade magazines, which discussed details of the latest applications in engineering research. I read them as avidly as my engineering colleagues (I am a wildlife biologist). I miss those mags.
One article in particular, I believe in a magazine entitled Civil Engineering, was written by an engineer who immersed a “hardware cloth” wire grid into saltwater and applied a small current to it. Over a month-long period, a hard solid that looked like cement subsequently “grew” on the grid. He initially suspected it was a marine salt precipitate, but after turning off the power, it did not redissolve. He didn’t want to pay for a chemical assessment, but opined that the material might have been some kind of hydrated compound. Because (I think) he used raw saltwater, I wonder if there might also have been a microbial component. Whatever, thinking that it had potential as a building material, he patented it and dedicated the patent to the public. The popular press would never, ever do articles like that.
More recently, there have been a series of vapid articles in the pop press about a Netherlands architectural firm designing a floating town for Mauritius. Its goal is to stay ahead of global warming’s sea rise. The new town’s buildings will be on rafting platforms joined together and anchored in place within an atoll. The architectural drawings are all pretty faces, of course, but neither pop press articles nor company PR detail such things as what materials comprise the floats, platforms, infrastructure, and buildings. Yawn. How are individual floating pods interconnected? With steel cables? With wooden beams? How will they deal with fouling organisms that glom onto and weigh down the floats? Seascaping projects like this one fascinate me, but all the articles I’ve read about it so far (and I’ve looked hard!) are empty calories to my analytical mind.
Or how about Elon Musk’s fantasy about a Mars colony? What EXACTLY does he plan to do about the physiological impacts to the human body from long-term exposure to low gravity? There’s not a peep about that issue in pop press articles. Hellooo! Earth calling Mars!
So, I plan to spend a little time over the next few weeks looking at engineering and architectural trade mags to see if they might take me where I want to go, and at what cost. Do any of you engineers and architects out there have any pointers? TIA