Seismologists often describe the San Francisco Bay Area’s Hayward fault zone as a “tectonic time bomb.” Among the most dangerous faults in the country, it is expected to produce at least a 6.7 magnitude earthquake within the next 30 years.
The last major quake on the fault occurred in 1868 and devastated the region at a time when it was sparsely populated. Now, more than 2 million people live on or near the approximately 45-mile fault.
Given the potential doomsday scenario, you might be surprised to learn that earthquake scientists don’t quite know what to expect when the next Big One strikes.
Many people still struggle with the idea of “printing” things by adding one layer of material on top of another, but Michael Idelchik, who runs GE’s advanced technologies research, is already talking about “printing large portions of jet engines.” GE Aviation, for example, is using lasers to print fuel nozzles for next-generation jet engines. The nozzles are 25 percent lighter and as much as five times more durable than the existing model welded from 20 different parts.
“We already know that it can be done, we’ve been playing with it for a while,” Idelchik says. “Now we want to develop an ecosystem of designers, engineers, materials scientists, and other partners who can learn with us. We have a number of products that we are going to be launching and we want to challenge people to get into business with us. If the ecosystem grows, the entire industry will grow.”
Ever since Samuel Hopkins received the first U.S. patent for making potash in 1790, inventors and companies have used patents as shield and sword to protect their ideas. Not anymore. Channeling the lean startup vibe, GE has invited innovators to turn swords into gadgets.
For the first time in the company’s history, GE will open thousands of patents to a community of inventors and tinkerers gathered around Quirky, an innovative design company using online collaboration and crowdsourcing to develop new products.
GE and Quirky will also launch “Wink: Instantly Connected,” a product development platform focused on building a co-branded line of app-enabled domestic devices connected to the Internet. These gadgets will improve health, water and air quality, and security, and can be produced by using advanced manufacturing tools and technologies like 3-D printing. Quirky will develop the products for distribution to large U.S. retailers. People can start pitching their ideas today.
There’s a new supercomputer out there. Its massive processing power is capable of solving once intractable problems in healthcare, aviation and other pursuits where daily operations produce oceans of data.
The big companies have just recently started to feed the bottlenecks that have long dragged them down into this data-analyzing behemoth. It exacts from statistical and machine-learning tools the fixes to daily annoyances as disparate as late plane arrivals and hospital discharges.
But this supercomputer isn’t comprised of dozens of servers humming away on racks in air-conditioned rooms. It’s a distributed model, with petaflops-worth of processors sitting in a bedroom in New York, an apartment in Warsaw and an office in Singapore. This supercomputer is made of people.
Global Internet connectivity, an expanding industrial Internet of machine sensors generating data and talking to each other, and a community of data scientists creating refined tools to work with all that information are all merging into this virtual supercomputer.