In the June 6th issue of The Economist's Technology Quarterly, there is a really interesting article on smart grids. "In order to accommodate the flow of energy between new sources of supply and new forms of demand, the world's electrical grids are going to have to get a lot smarter" (page 15). This idea has been getting a lot of media attention lately because of the amounts of money being allocated to infrastructure by the Federal government. What it essentially means is that the grid would have to be become more interactive, with information flowing from consumers to the generators instead of just having energy flow the old-fashioned way. One example that the article highlights is the possibility that a smart grid, in combination with new technology in electric car batteries, could allow the distributed storage of excess generating capacity from electricity generating plants. Basically, individual car owners would allow their cars to be used to store electricity off of the grid at off-peak hours, and then ostensibly to allow the grid to take that electricity back at a higher peak time. What is fascinating is that this would mean that private property is being at least partially commandeered for public purpose - not in the traditional sense, and not without permission and/or compensation, but it brings up all kinds of logistical questions, blurring the line between public and private property. It is ironic that the automobile, ultimate symbol of American individuality, could quite possibly become the first widespread and most acceptable instrument of collective action in our country.
This is from a fascinating exhibition currently at MoMA. The artist arranged all of the items in his mother's home. He collaborated with his mother on laying it all out. This is a shot of a portion of his mother's home with many colorful shopping bags laid out as a continuous surface; in the gallery, the frame of the house is supported by sections of tube & clamp scaffolding. It is interesting because in a typical construction scenario it is usually the scaffolding that relies on the original building structure for stability. Scaffolding itself doesn't resist lateral loads very well, so it needs to be tied back to the main structure for support. In the case of this structure, the original building needs the support of the scaffolding, almost as a prosthetic, to stand.
Workers installing supported scaffold for a facade restoration of the iconic Great Hall at the New York Hall of Science. There were probably three installers working (two pictured, one on lower roof). At the time this photo was taken, the worker on the low roof was hoisting up the 'x' bracing that was being installed between the blue frames that were already set in place. One worker on the planking was unloading the hoist bucket, and the other was installing the bracing and tightening the fasteners. They were actually moving pretty fast. Here's a short video: