New Developments in Engineering

Question: What’s new and exciting in engineering?

Vest: Well I think that the primary thing to understand is that the last half of the 20th century, in which most of us played out our careers and so forth, was largely built around physics, and electronics, and high speed communication, and creating large infrastructure – electricity, power, road ways, and so forth. This new century, at least its early decades, are clearly going to be centered around the amazing advances in life science, in information technology, and very small scale physics – so-called nanotechnology. It is the merging of those three things that creates the amazing and interesting opportunities. But at the same time if we think of that as the frontier of things that are smaller and smaller, and faster and faster, and more and more complex, at the same time we have another great frontier that’s of terrific interest to the lay public, and that’s what I call macro systems engineering. This is the domain in which the energy crisis needs to be resolved; in which we need to move forward to stop global warming and mitigate its consequences; where we worry about production on a global scale, our communications systems, the delivery of healthcare, logistics – so sort of the very small, very large. Both are increasingly complex. Both have deeper and deeper scientific underpinnings. And I believe that the public needs to understand that we have these two very important frontiers that are largely, though not exclusively, driven by science and engineering. And the big payoff that we look forward to is bridging from the small scale to the large scale so that I’m convinced that the great challenges that this current and next generation of engineers are going to be able to deal with are the creation of bio fuels; of designing things that can be manufactured and used with much smaller environmental footprints; in increasing the efficiency and the personalization with which we deliver healthcare. These are the grand challenges in my view, and this honestly is the most exciting period in human history in both science and engineering. Recorded on: 12/5/07

Moving from physics to microbiology, information technology and nanotechnology.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less

Golden blood: the rarest blood in the world

We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.

Abid Katib/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
  • Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
  • It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
Keep reading Show less

Want to age gracefully? A new study says live meaningfully

Thinking your life is worthwhile is correlated with a variety of positive outcomes.

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • A new study finds that adults who feel their lives are meaningful have better health and life outcomes.
  • Adults who felt their lives were worthwhile tended to be more social and had healthier habits.
  • The findings could be used to help improve the health of older adults.
Keep reading Show less