Friday, August 29, 2014

How Science is Changing Motorcycle Helmet Technology

The name Stephanie Kwolek might ring a bell for some people, but for motorcyclists, it should mean a great deal—especially those who wear protective head gear. Kwolek, who died this year at the age of 90, was a scientist with the DuPont Company in the 1960s. She researched polymers and, more importantly, steered the way toward the creation of Kevlar. The light, synthetic fabric was found to be so strong that it became the main ingredient in a variety of protective gear, including bulletproof vests and motorcycle helmets. The breakthrough in Kwolek's work has proved to be ever-changing as scientists continue to find ways to improve motorcycle helmets.

Improving Kwolek's Technology

Kevlar is a fiber that, ounce for ounce, is five times stronger than steel. It has improved helmet safety standards tremendously, yet scientists are still working to improve on Kevlar helmets. Why? Because our brains are delicate gobs of goo. As tough as Kevlar is, it can't fully protect in a motorcycle crash.
Our brains are surrounded and protected by three layers called meninges, which are made up of pia, arachnoid and dura mater, with the skull being the hard, outer capsule keeping it all in place.

Gradually, scientists have learned that our brains float inside the skull like a sailboat at sea. You can make a sudden stop with your head, but inside, the brain is in fluid motion, stopping like a sailboat would in rough waters. Thus, sudden, violent stops can cause the brain to crash into the inner walls of the skull, causing the brain to shear, bleed or swell.

Because of this, helmets had to include some sort of inner lining to cushion the blow of a sudden, violent stop, absorbing the impact by flexing within the outer shell. Check out the variety of helmet designs available today—there are a number of different liner designs that help absorb that impact energy. The lining consists of expanded polystyrene or the same kind of material in beer coolers and packaging material.

Types of Designs We See Today

Though it is optional to wear a helmet in many states today, many motorcyclists choose to protect themselves, which has proven to reduce the risk of being killed in an accident by 37 percent. There are plenty of trendy designs from which to choose: the Skully P-1 comes equipped with standard safety material, but also has mobile technology. It features built-in heads-up display, which enables the rider to access GPS and Bluetooth, and even email can be set up to display a live feed from a 180-degree rear view camera. Using technology like this, manufacturers are further encouraging motorcyclists to embrace the helmet movement.

Helmet design companies like Riddell, known or making football helmets, are working to understand the science behind the brain's reaction to highly violent impacts, which is highly common in the sport of football. Riddell's 360 design has become the standard helmet for many teams, proving to improve concussion prevention in players. Its hexagonal liner system inside the helmet helps reduce incoming energy from frontal impacts. Riddell's work is similar to other helmet companies are working on to improve headgear.

Swedish company Hövding is experimenting on an airbag helmet concept, which removes the use of a traditional helmet altogether. Though intended for bicycle riders, the inflatable device is worn on the collar around the neck and triggered by sensors, resembling a ballooned pillow around the rider's head. There's even a helmet design that activates a chemical packet after a crash that supposedly cools the rider's head to prevent brain swelling.

Today's standard motorcycle helmets come in all shapes, sizes, colors and features. Nearly all options are made of Kevlar or some type of polycarbonate plastic or fiberglass, and interlined with a cushioned material to lessen the impact in a crash. Science, led by Kwolek's work, has given motorcyclists many options to choose from, and which helmet a motorcyclist chooses depends on the rider himself. Be assured, however, that whichever modern helmet a rider selects, includes a long history of evolved science behind it with one ultimate goal in mind—protecting that precious brain.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 Explodes With New Rebel Character Posters

The "dark angels" of District 13 has landed to free Panem from the grips of the Capitol. After escaping barely alive from the 3rd Quarter Quell, Katniss Everdeen, now known as the Mockingjay (the rebellion's symbol), will be guarded from harm by these heavily armed "angels," as what these new character posters of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 is trying to imply. Clad in their black battle gear, the characters are superimposed over the mockingjay pin, making them look like winged commandos.

Directed by Francis Lawrence, the movie stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Sam Claflin, Stef Dawson, and Willow Shields.

Updated: Here comes the new teaser poster of the movie, featuring Katniss Everdeen, or her back that is.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

And here the first theatrical poster. Look out for the first trailer in a few days.

Check out these serious-looking character posters of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, featuring the rebels of District 13, which greatly reminds me of Expendables.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I is the first movie in the two-part finale of The Hunger Games franchise, based on the books by Suzanne Collins. In this chapter we follow heroine Katniss Everdeen’s (Jennifer Lawrence) journey as she leads the districts of Panem in a rebellion against the tyrannical and corrupt Capitol. As the war that will determine the fate of Panem escalates, Katniss must decipher for herself who she can trust and what needs to be done, with everything she cares for in the balance.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 soars to theaters on November 21, 2014.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tiny Size, Enormous Impact: Scientific Breakthroughs That Changed History

If Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 version of mankind is true, then without the big monolith, we would still be picking fleas off of our fuzzy neighbors. Whether it is because of benevolent space aliens or simple human ingenuity, there was a flash of brilliance where a bone became a tool and the world changed in response. Over the past hundred years, these technological breakthroughs have come fast and furious. These innovations are changing the world so quickly that children cannot comprehend a time without them and futurists question where they may lead us.

The O-Ring

It is just a little piece of rubber, but it played a big part in the industrial revolution, the space race and World War II. In 1936, Denmark born inventor Niels Christensen created the first O-ring as a seal for automobiles. Before that, cars had a tendency to leak fluids, which severely limited the amount of power possible. However, it did not become widely used until the United States purchased the patent during World War II and used it as the primary seal for its aircraft. Additionally, the importance of O-ring manufacturing was emphasized during the Challenger disaster when the SRM Joint failed, breaking the O-ring and causing the ship to crash.

Flash Drives

In the 1980s and '90s, computer technology was moving so rapidly that a new personal computer was obsolete before you got it out of the box. In 1980, a one gig hard drive cost around $40,000 and weighed 550 pounds, states PC World. By 1991, the same storage capacity weighed 2.2 pounds. In that decade, we also went from floppy disks to CDs. And now, the flash drive and its magical parallel, the cloud, allow a person to carry and share a lifetime of work, memories and theories. Where once we had a tattered leather notebook, now we have the flash drive.

Remote Control

The best reason for a 1970s parent to have children was so that they had someone to change the channel. For you younger folks, there was a time when people actually had to stand up to put on a different show. It was Edison’s contemporary and rival Nikola Tesla that patented the first radio controlled device in 1900, claims PBS. However, it was not until the 1980s that the TV remote as we know it was developed for common commercial use, and now we have smartphones and devices that control our TV. TiVo tells us what to watch, and we can play Mario Bros while watching football on the small screen in the corner. Tesla was such a brilliant futurist that he predicted some of this technology as far back as 1901.

The Electron

Technically people did not invent the electron, but what we did with it in the last hundred years is world changing. In your fifth grade science book, the atom would be described as having protons, electrons and possibly neutrons, and the electron would be described as a negatively charged particle. Today’s definition of the electron is a probability weighted, possibility structure in potentia. This change in meaning has lead us from technology where we plug in our toaster to the possibility of artificial intelligence. Using the quantum mechanical definition of an electron may give us quantum computers and AI, worm holes and faster than light travel. Elementary school science class didn’t tell us any of that.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Childhood Head Or Cranial Injury And What It Caused Me As I Grew Older

This time I will get a little too personal... It is really easy to judge other people without us knowing what they've been through, what their history was, or what current condition they might be in. We take it as if we already know them, just based on the first impressions we have of them...

Beautiful Brain

First up, I want to share with you my brain condition. I am not sure if this is a gift or a curse, but I'd like to look on the bright side... Everyone close to me knows I love reading books a lot, but what they don't know is that I immediately forget mostly what the book is about. I forget the story almost always, but what remained are my impressions of the book, whether it is good or bad according to my tastes. I am grateful about this because I can read another book right away without the hangover from the previous one (as if I haven't read a book previously), but the bad side is I would have liked to treasure the details of the ones that I really loved.

That is why you might notice I am not making much of a book review (or a movie review for that matter), because I would not know what to tell the readers except of course my impression of it. I don't want to take notes while reading or watching, because I don't want to be interrupted in any way. Even a small noise while reading chases away the train of the story. Of course, this skeptical world will not take your word for it, unless they have concrete evidence that you have really read or watched what you are talking about, hence I opt not to make reviews.

On the other hand, one thing I noticed regarding my brain condition (I am not sure, but the reason is maybe because the injured part of my head is on the right side), I am not much of an artist, or I cannot remember artistic details just like the plot of a story, but one thing I am quite good at is analytical and mathematical stuff. Which also brings me to my OCD, everything should be in numeric order, that's the least I could say.

Everything, or in case of books, should have the same exact dimensions like width and height (alas, I can't do anything about the thickness). Every book in a series must be there and hopefully each and every book of an author must be complete... Maybe this is due to my analytical side... That's the least that I can share, because it is hard to explain, it's just is.

Now, let me share to you the root of these.... When I was still very young, around ten or eleven, I had a head injury. I lived in an area you call a farm, ranch, estate or "hacienda." I can remember hundreds and hundreds of coconut, mango and other trees, like pili nuts. There were rice fields, corn plots, lines of tomatoes and everything else...

I always ran around these areas, stopping by some shady spot to rest and then ran around some more. In one episode of my resting under a tree, a pili nut in this case, I was hit by a huge rock almost half the size of my minuscule head. For those who don't know, the best way to get the nut out of this tree is to throw some huge rocks at the branches... and that happened to be what some of the grown neighbors had been doing at that time.

That time, I didn't really feel anything. Until, and only then, I found blood flowing down my head, on my face, and to where it will naturally flow down.... In short, a small portion of my skull was crushed, leaving a wide dented area. Luckily it didn't go through at all. I was not mended by a doctor, not stitched at the most. Only two of my nurse relatives, who happened to be on vacation back our town (coming from Houston, Texas), tried to cure me with what's readily available. The city is too far away in those times, but not now, considering the progress as time flies by...

So that's really the story of it. I just opened up about my condition, just because some people try to judge you right away without knowing your background. And for one, I understand because to err is human...

I am doing this blog, because I just wanna share my thoughts and feeling about the things that I have enjoyed, or haven't enjoyed, like books, movies, TV shows and etc. I may be wrong at some of the details, considering my memory, but the emotions presented herein are authentic. This blog is nothing more than to remind me how I felt about the things I enjoyed, because honestly I will forget them one by one as a few days go by... I am not a reporter or newscaster, I just write what's on the top of my head, the tip of my fingers and the bottom of my heart -- sort of a journal.

PS: I still bear the mark of this injury, albeit hidden in a thick mane...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Watch The Book Trailer Of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki And His Years of Pilgrimage By Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami's latest novel is out for the taking, unless of course you live in some far-flung countries, like me, who has to wait a few more weeks before you could hold in your hands some of the much awaited titles you are excited to read.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

His new book called Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is released a few days ago, but the only thing I might be able to enjoy for now is this trailer, which adds more fuel to the excitement of finally enjoying the book in the flesh.

Here is the book trailer of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami.


Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the long-awaited new novel—a book that sold more than a million copies the first week it went on sale in Japan—from the award-winning, internationally best-selling author Haruki Murakami.

Here he gives us the remarkable story of Tsukuru Tazaki, a young man haunted by a great loss; of dreams and nightmares that have unintended consequences for the world around us; and of a journey into the past that is necessary to mend the present. It is a story of love, friendship, and heartbreak for the ages.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami is now available.