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Hey Bill Nye! Could Hydraulic Knees Help the Elderly?
Bill Nye is an engineer by trade, so you know his answer to this one is going to be good. Learn how the rudder of a Boeing 747 can potentially inspire an inventor to develop a better brand of prosthetics.
Bill Nye, scientist, engineer, comedian, author, and inventor, is a man with a mission: to help foster a scientifically literate society, to help people everywhere understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work. Making science entertaining and accessible is something Bill has been doing most of his life.
In Seattle Nye began to combine his love of science with his flair for comedy, when he won the Steve Martin look-alike contest and developed dual careers as an engineer by day and a stand-up comic by night. Nye then quit his day engineering day job and made the transition to a night job as a comedy writer and performer on Seattle’s home-grown ensemble comedy show “Almost Live.” This is where “Bill Nye the Science Guy®” was born. The show appeared before Saturday Night Live and later on Comedy Central, originating at KING-TV, Seattle’s NBC affiliate.
While working on the Science Guy show, Nye won seven national Emmy Awards for writing, performing, and producing. The show won 18 Emmys in five years. In between creating the shows, he wrote five children’s books about science, including his latest title, “Bill Nye’s Great Big Book of Tiny Germs.”
Nye is the host of three currently-running television series. “The 100 Greatest Discoveries” airs on the Science Channel. “The Eyes of Nye” airs on PBS stations across the country.
Bill’s latest project is hosting a show on Planet Green called “Stuff Happens.” It’s about environmentally responsible choices that consumers can make as they go about their day and their shopping. Also, you’ll see Nye in his good-natured rivalry with his neighbor Ed Begley. They compete to see who can save the most energy and produce the smallest carbon footprint. Nye has 4,000 watts of solar power and a solar-boosted hot water system. There’s also the low water use garden and underground watering system. It’s fun for him; he’s an engineer with an energy conservation hobby.
Nye is currently the Executive Director of The Planetary Society, the world’s largest space interest organization.
Patrick Lee: Hi. I'm at Patrick Lee from Deerpath Middle School. I'm in fifth grade. And my question is do you think hydraulics could help people with knee problems when their knee breaks down and it could help it go down much softer?
Bill Nye: Patrick, let me start by saying that is a fabulous tie. Way to go man. It looks good. You know, people are skeptical to pink. I like the pink. I like the purple. I think it's good. Good choice. That is a great question; could hydraulics help somebody's knees? There's a great word they use in medicine: a prosthetic, meaning an artificial limb. I got to say yes absolutely. I don't know how familiar you are with hydraulics, but you asked about it, but the idea is hydro is a word for water and hydraulics use fluids, which do not compress very much. Water hardly compresses at all, if you squeeze it hardly anything happens. And the same is true of the oil in the transmission of cars. And the oil that's in the pistons, the shock absorbers of the car and it's very reasonable that this would work. Because what hydraulics do is so fabulous is they provide a tremendous amount of force from a small object, a small actuator. And the other thing they really help with is what's called damping, which used to be called dampening. But the faster you move something the more damping slows it down. It sounds tricky, but it's not. You've done it.
So what happens in a hydraulic actuator, they'll have an opening, which is another I think it's a Greek word an orifice. So when you try to squeeze the oil or the water through that opening, it slows it down. And the faster you try to go the more it slows it down and this has to do with the nature of fluids. And there's a whole study in physics called fluid mechanics, but yes that is a great idea. You're going to be an inventor Patrick. Way to go man. Let me tell you, I used to work at Boeing on the 747 airplane, which is getting to be an old airplane now, but the president still flies around on a 747. It's a Boeing plane like a 757, 767, 737, 787. Anyway, there's two things I worked on a lot; one of them was a rudder and that's the thing that steers the plane this way. And that thing is so powerful. So there's a pump — there's four pumps by the engines and each pump is unbelievably reliable and just they work for years and years because the thing they pump is oil so they're always getting lubricated, they're always slippery inside which keeps things from wearing out.
Anyway, those pumps make 3,000, we used to all do it in English units, pounds per square inch. As they say, if you want to move a house, if you want to move the Washington Monument that far in a 20th of a second, a 747 rudder actuator will do it for you. And so that is a great idea, man. You can get so much force in hydraulics and a knee could be the perfect place for it. Now just notice when you go to do it you're going to need a place for the actuator to push and you're going to need something to pull with. In my day, I'm sure it still is, this is called a wishbone crank because it's kind of like a wishbone. You're going to need a force and you're going to need a lever, something that's not quite in the same axis as the force. You'll figure it out. That is a great idea Patrick. Be an inventor. Change the world. Nicely done. You know what Patrick, I bet you have someone in your life who needs an artificial knee. Help him or her out. Way to go.
Fifth-grader Patrick Lee of Deerpath Middle School shows off some dashing fashion and offers this week's #tuesdayswithbill question: "Do you think hydraulics could help people with knee problems when their knee breaks down?"
Does Bill have an answer? Well, the guy is an engineer by trade... of course he has an answer! Watch the video to learn a little about hydraulic technology, fluid mechanics, and how the rudder of a Boeing 747 can inspire a better brand of prosthetics.
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.
- Outplacement is an underperforming $5 billion dollar industry. A new non-profit coalition by SkillUp intends to disrupt it.
- More and more Americans will be laid off in years to come due to automation. Those people need to reorient their career paths and reskill in a way that protects their long-term livelihood.
- SkillUp brings together technology and service providers, education and training providers, hiring employers, worker outreach, and philanthropies to help people land in-demand jobs in high-growth industries.
Source: McKinsey Global Institute analysis [PDF]<p>Work in understanding the skills at the heart of the new digital economy is leading to novel assessments that allow individuals to prove mastery to faithfully represent their abilities—but also to give weight and stackability to the emerging ecosystem of micro-credentials that make education more seamless across time and education providers. And we are seeing the beginnings of a renewal in the liberal arts, focused on building human skills in affordable ways that are accessible to many more individuals and far more effective.</p><p>Amidst these dark times, there is much opportunity to refresh the nation's education and training solutions to support the success of individuals and society writ large.</p>