Podcast Episode 025 – Dieselpunk Cellophane Titanosaur


Titanosaur (us)Unveiling the Titanosaur, which may be the world’s largest dinosaur


  • A monster fossil was discovered. Femur the size of your sofa. “The find itself made news when images came out of paleontologist Diego Pol lying on the femur of the skeleton, which is roughly the size of a sofa (though far less comfortable). Since then, the team from the Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio (MPEF) has excavated more than 200 bones, representing 70 percent of the skeleton.”

  • This titanosaur was not full grown. “Since this individual belongs to a species that hasn’t been formally described, there’s no official name to give it. They do know, however, that it’s not a mature adult—certain bones in these animals fuse when growth stops, which didn’t happen here.”

  • So, how big is big? “This young adult was roughly 37 meters long (122 feet) and weighed in at an estimated 63 metric tons. … The skeleton filled an entire room that could easily fit hundreds of people, and it was arranged so that its head jutted out the doorway and into the hall beyond. From a distance, everything looks roughly proportional, so it’s difficult to appreciate just how big everything is. It’s only when you drop your gaze low enough to see how the legs compare to full grown people that the size of it is really driven home.”

  • And what room are we talking about? Well, it’s on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. And by “it,” we mean a fiberglass cast of the bones. “The skeleton on display is made of lightweight fiberglass casts, as the actual bones would weigh far too much to support”

  • It is thought the Titanosaur was an herbivore, but that’s speculation right now. “It also has distinctive teeth. Although they’re not sharp, they’re pointier than you’d expect from a herbivore. “The teeth worked like big rakes,” Novacek told Ars, adding that the dinosaur simply obtained as much foliage as possible but didn’t actually chew it.”

gbuiodjvhg8eirsdyyijThis Dieselpunk Shrine Hides a Century-Old, Fully Operational 800 HP Motor


  • This is just really cool. A relatively ancient, but still functioning diesel engine. “Close to the gorgeous towers of the Óbuda Gas Works, there is a humble, church-like brick building housing an amazing piece of engineering: a still-functional 103-year-old Sulzer diesel motor connected to a Ganz generator.”

    This isn’t just any old under-powered engine from yesteryear. This thing’s a monster. Purpose? Electricity generation. “The 4-cylinder, 800-horsepower, 180-RPM stationary engine was built in 1912 by the Láng (Flame) Machine Works of Budapest, based upon the license of the Swiss industrial engineering and manufacturing firm Sulzer. The two-story machine supplied 110-volt direct current electricity for the Óbuda Gas Works with the help of the attached generator. Next to it is a control room, and behind that, a switch gear and distribution room.”

  • Lots of fantastic pictures in the Gizmodo post – worth your time to visit.

  • Also a gentle reminder that, 100 years later, we’re still burning stuff to generate electricity. But at least we’re making headway. If only solar wasn’t so darned expensive…


Could Atropine Eyedrops Help Reduce Nearsightedness In Children?


  • In the 1990’s, science noted that atropine had a positive effect on nearsightedness. Not that we know how it works, exactly. “As early as the 1990s, doctors had some evidence that atropine can slow the progression of nearsightedness. In some countries, notably in Asia, a 1 percent solution of atropine eyedrops is commonly prescribed to children with myopia. It’s not entirely clear how atropine works. Because people become nearsighted when their eyeballs get too elongated, it’s generally thought that atropine must be interfering with that unwanted growth.”

  • Take too much, and bad side effects can happen. No, not oily staining, but some other stuff. “Because it dilates pupils and blurs vision, atropine makes it hard to see up close or to stand bright lights.”

  • The trick then, was getting the dosage right. Lowest effective dose was surprisingly low, at 0.01% solution. “The children getting the lowest dose, eyedrops that were just 0.01 percent atropine, had the least worsening of nearsightedness compared with any other group after a five-year period. … And the children on 0.01 percent atropine had almost no uncomfortable side effects from the eyedrops, the researchers reported Monday at the American Academy of Ophthalmology annual meeting in Las Vegas.”

  • So, awesome! We can get this in the US, right? Nope. Sure can’t. You can get 1% solution. Not 0.01%. “To get the diluted version, families and physicians in other locales need to get a compounding pharmacy to create it, and the Food and Drug Administration has approved only the 1 percent solution so far.”

  • And also, the use-cases seem to be in folks whose eyesight is getting rapidly worse. Not folks like me who have a very mild myopia. Although I guess that might be up to a doctor’s discretion. One doctor mentioned in the article “recommends it for children whose eyesight is rapidly getting worse and need new eyeglasses every few months, but not for patients who have only mild vision impairment.”


SSDs Are Getting Quite Hot


  • PCI-E SSDs run really hot. That’s just the way of things.

  • Current Intel 750 series SSDs are shipping with massive aluminum heat sinks – big ones on the consumer grade SSDs, and huge ones for the commercial grade.

  • The link in the show notes demos a crazy liquid cooling rig. Not strictly necessary, but maybe where we are heading someday.

  • My big takeaway? High performance SSDs generate a lot of heat. Who knew?

Are We Headed For An Electric Car Crisis?


  • Consumer demand isn’t driving electric car sales. For the most part, people would rather drive SUVs, etc. if sales are any indication. “Given the chance, Americans will default to bigger cars every time. Not hybrids and EVs, but trucks and SUVs.”

  • We talk about Tesla on this show, but most people can’t afford them. Tesla is catering to the luxury end of the market.

  • Interestingly, if Tesla was mass-market affordable, they would do well (we think). The Tesla is, more or less, just a car. Not super-small, it actually can seat up to 7 passengers. Little to no range anxiety depending on your driving habits and which battery configuration you buy. I even see the occasional Model S up here in New Hampshire.

  • But automakers aren’t making EVs because it’s what customers are asking for. They are making them because they have to for purposes of regulatory compliance. “Automakers are going green not just to save the planet, but because they have to: by 2020 California will require 10 percent of all sales to be EV or fuel cell cars, and nationally, fleets have to average 54.5 mpg by 2025. Right now, we’re at about 24.7 mpg. Oof. The result, the News points out, is what industry folks are calling a “two-tier market”: one market full of SUVs and trucks people actually buy, and one with the “money-losing compliance vehicles” of EVs and hybrids people aren’t buying.”

  • Automakers with deep pockets can make this work. They can sink the funds into the R&D required to put an EV on the road. Smaller automakers are going to struggle, though. They don’t have the deep pockets. They are buying credits to keep up with compliance requirements. “It’s the classic battle between market forces and regulators. But the latter isn’t going to back down, even when it forces smaller automakers like Mazda or Subaru (or cash-strapped ones like Fiat Chrysler) to buy EV credits to stay in compliance.”


comic2-2943Dinosaur Comics


  • Old school art. Highly pixelated with a limited color pallette.

  • The panels are the same every time, AFAIK. Only the words change. It’s always a conversation between a T-Rex and (I think) a velociraptor.

  • The text is dot matrix, and sometimes the letters don’t quite fit into the panel.

  • The conversation usually proceeds from sane and logical to completely ridiculous.

  • Takes a while to figure it out, but I look forward to each one more and more now that I’m into it.


Atropine Was Called “Belladonna”


  • “Atropine was known as belladonna, and fancy Parisian ladies used it to dilate their pupils, since big pupils were considered alluring at the time.”

Cellophane is biodegradable:


  • Cellulose from wood, cotton, hemp or other sources is dissolved in alkali and carbon disulfide to make a solution called viscose, which is then extruded through a slit into a bath of dilute sulfuric acid and sodium sulfate to reconvert the viscose into cellulose. The film is then passed through several more baths, one to remove sulfur, one to bleach the film, and one to add glycerin to prevent the film from becoming brittle.


And with that, this week’s Citizens of Tech comes to a close. You can find us on Facebook, visit us at CitizensOfTech.com and follow us on Twitter @citizensoftech. If you would, please tell your friends about the show, and rate us on iTunes. Our download numbers keep going up, and that’s good, but it’s up to you, fellow Citizen, to help drive them higher.

World domination. We wantz it.

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