Appropriate Technology

Appropriate Technology

A Beginner’s Guide to Hammers

A Beginner’s Guide to Hammers

image via PropAgenda an excellent intro to hammers via BoingBoing:
While they look and work the same, the differences are important. The best shape, weight, and material of head depend on what you're hitting and why. Narrow heads deliver the entire force of the blow into a small area, broad faces spread it around. Longer handles allow more powerful swings, shorter allow more control. Wood handles absorb some of the vibration but can break, steel handles are durable but can be a literal pain to use. Fiberglass and other composite materials are durable and comfortable, but cost more.
Above image via PropAgenda.
Bring on the Black Sponge…

Bring on the Black Sponge…

Got sent over to this piece over at Co.Exist regarding some new technology being developed by the big brains at MIT.
The new technology looks a little like a sponge. A black material, made from graphite and filled with tiny holes, floats on top of water, soaking up sunlight. As the material heats up, it heats up a small area of water around it, and a layer of foam at the bottom keeps everything hot. The water starts to turn into steam that could be used for everything from drinking water to sterilization in places off the grid.
While I find that a lot of media coverage of new energy technologies tends to focus on impractical, unscalable, pie-in-the-sky projects, this one really caught my eye, because of the next bit:
"The most exciting thing is it's simple," says Gang Chen, head of the mechanical engineering department at MIT. "You could even hand-build this. It could be done with a simple manufacturing process--and that can lead to lower cost."
Very promising indeed.  If this technology sees successful development, it seems like something that could be put to good use in a number of ways on the homestead.  Let's just hope they open-source it...