Shining a light on cloud maintenance

The cloud – just another one of those things you often hear about but don’t really care about. That is, until it stops working for a few hours and you’re stuck in the supermarket with a cart full of groceries, unable to pay by ATM-card and not carrying any cash. That is what happened to me at Albert Heijn a few weeks ago.

More and more services that are essential to our society operating smoothly are stored in the cloud. It is growing and growing and already responsible for about 2% of our world-wide energy demand. If it doesn’t break down under its own weight, it may eventually become a climate hazard. That is, until Georgios Andreadis came along.

For his master’s thesis, he researched how to bring capacity planning for cloud data centres into the 21st century. As a result, these centres may be able to continue to meet the ever-growing computational demands of businesses, scientists and governments, while increasing their efficiency and environmental sustainability. Next time society doesn’t crumble, that’s what I’ll be grateful for.

Game Boy forever!

I’m sure that the words ‘Game Boy’ bring back some good old nostalgic feelings, for at least some of you. And now it’s back… forever! Some cool researchers removed its batteries but made sure that it will keep running indefinitely, using a technique called intermittent computing. No more save games, no more loosing progress when the batteries run out. Your great-great-great-great-grandchild can continue where you left off!

But it is not about lighting up your next intercontinental flight, nor is it about offering you a renewed chance to annoy your parents by gaming through dinner and deep into the night. Intermittent computing is all about sustainability! Here you can read more about the Batteryless Gameboy and the real reasons for developing it.

Controlling plasma forces to reduce airplane drag

Solar power to reduce airplane emissions, but not the way you expect. The sun is a giant ball of plasma, the fourth fundamental state of matter. On earth, plasma only exists ‘naturally’ near lighting. But when created artificially, it can actually be used to control the airflow on top of the wings of jet airliners. Marios Kotsonis has shown that this may reduce aircraft fuel consumption, and therefor emissions, with up to 15%. Read more about his plasma research here.

Ik vervoer wel eens mijn fiets met het vliegtuig, maar andersom kan blijkbaar ook.

Tien studenten van de faculteit Luchtvaart- en Ruimtevaarttechniek besloten de vaste grond onder hun voeten los te laten. Ze verlengden hun ontwerpopdracht ter afsluiting van de Bachelor-fase met het daadwerkelijk bouwen van een radicaal licht recreatief vliegtuig. Zo licht dat je het, ook met motor en aandrijving erbij, zonder vliegbrevet kan gebruiken. Opstijgen van en landen op water, op honderd meter afstand stiller dan een zoemende koelkast en, jawel, met de fiets te vervoeren.

Lees hier meer over dit zweefvliegtuig en hun testvlucht.

Pushing data to their limit using textured triangles

High-dimensional data, such as the output of neural networks or many biomedical data, cannot be directly visualised as humans can only handle up to three dimensions. A clever insight by Nicola Pezzotti allows the real-time visualisation of similarities in these data.

Based on these similarities, his algorithm calculates an attractive force between the various data points. The big breakthrough, however, was to replace the repulsive force between these points with fields. Kinda like what Einstein did with gravity.

Implementing these fields as textured triangles to be handled by a graphical processor made the algorithm about one hundred times faster. Researchers at the LUMC already used it to discover new cell types., but you can also use it to delve into social media filter bubbles. Or perhaps you would like to play with soccer statistics?

Read more about this insightful algorithm here.

Life-long health… from Delft

Fundamental knowledge of materials, molecules and micro-currents makes the heart of engineers at the TU Delft skip a beat. Two beats if they can also apply this knowledge for healthy ageing. The TU Delft Health Initiative shares  recent developments in a series of interactive health-related lectures. kicked-off by Andre Kuipers. The first evening focusses on nano-materials, bio-electronic medicine and maintaining health during (prolonged) space travel.

Are you curious? You can read more and register here.

Raketten voor kleine satellieten

Met je pas ontwikkelde kleine satelliet onder de arm kan je op een lanceerplatform gaan staan, je duim uitsteken, en hopen dat je kan meeliften met een grote draagraket. Spannender, en prettiger, is dat je satelliet precies op jouw gewenste moment in jouw gewenste baan wordt gebracht. De ontwikkelingen op het gebied van kleinere draagraketten gaan razendsnel. De belofte is dat deze veel goedkoper zijn, per kilogram nuttige lading. Maar het vergt meer dan een motor, wat brandstof en een goed stel hersens om deze nieuwe raketten de lucht in te krijgen. Een goed kostenmodel helpt met het inschatten van de risico’s en het sturen van het ontwikkelingsproces. Lees hier meer over het afstudeerwerk van Nigel Drenthe.

Hoe klinkt een vliegtuigvleugel?

Is het een vogel? Is het een vliegtuig? Nee, het is het onderstel!

Vliegtuigen maken geluid. Veel geluid. Maar waar komt dat geluid precies vandaan? Gelukkig zijn er slimmeriken die ons dat precies kunnen vertellen, met behulp van een array aan microfoons en slimme software. En als je toch die geluidsexpertise hebt, dan kan je die ook inzetten voor nauwkeurigere dieptemetingen onder water. Dr. Mirjam Snellen vertelt hier wat de vakgroep Aircraft Noise and Climate Effects van de TU Delft allemaal doet en kan.

The future of airplane maintenance

It is maintenance that keeps the airplane (and you!) in the air. Most of this maintenance is preventative and scheduled manually according to strict regulations. But what if we delve into the terabytes of data a modern airplane produces each day? Researchers from TU Delft think this may lead to a paradigm shift in airplane maintenance. No more inspecting systems that are completely healthy. No more unscheduled delays due to ‘problems of an uncertain origin’. Next time you fly, it is not only the roar of the motors but also the soft buzzing of smart algorithms that keeps you safely in the air. Read more here.

Green ship recycling

Dismantling ships on the beaches of Sri Lanka is damaging to both workers and the environment. There are plenty ship recycling yards that adhere to international standards for green ship recycling, but they offer less money for an end-of-life ship than non-green yards. A researcher from TU Delft investigated whether this price difference can be bridged by adding a plasma-gasification plant to an already green ship yard. Read more here.