Tactile Paving

Tactile paving is placed quite tactfully.

  • Tactile paving is generally a group of patterned tiles or pavers, that are located in pedestrian areas to help direct visually impaired or blind people.
  • The surfaces known as ‘tactile paving’, are also known as ‘tactile tiles’, ‘detectable warnings’, ‘detectable warning surfaces’, ‘truncated domes’, ‘tactile indicators’, ‘tenji blocks’, ‘textured paving blocks’ and ‘tactile ground surface indicators’.
  • Hazardous areas, including changes in ground height, are areas where tactile paving is used as a warning for those visually impaired, as they can be sensed using a cane or by one’s feet.
  • Tactile paving is often yellow, or another bright or contrasting colour to the surrounding area, which marks as a secondary warning to those who have poor vision.
  • Tactile paving is a Japanese invention, and was originally designed in 1965 by Seiichi Miyake, who had the desire to help visually impaired people to safely move around outside, and its use was popularised by the Japan Railway due to its widespread installation on train platforms in the 1970s.

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  • Tactile paving is typically square or rectangular in shape, and the tiles contain significant bumps on the surface, that are generally either circular or rectangular, and usually the circular bumps indicate ‘stop’, while the rectangular bumps signify ‘go’.
  • Generally, tactile paving has various requirements and standards, regulated by each country, that determine the size, shape, colour, and distribution of the bumps, and their placement in relation to hazardous areas.
  • Britain, Japan and Australia were among the countries that adopted tactile paving first, and the United States and Canada embraced the invention during the 1990s.
  • Tactile paving is usually made of hard material like heavy duty polyurethane, stainless steel, concrete, ceramic or other durable substance, and the paving can be found on steps, transport platforms, footpaths, and in other areas, although the use of the tiles on steep slopes is not normally recommended.
  • For general pedestrians, as well as the visually impaired, the issue of safety regarding tactile paving is often controversial, as the bumps can cause difficulties for those in wheelchairs, and sometimes the tiles are hazardous or can become slippery, although there have been efforts to reduce these issues.
Bibliography:
The History of Tactile Paving for the Blind, 2015, Share Ask, http://share-ask.com/the-history-of-tactile-pavement-for-the-blind/
Integrated Tactile Ground Surface Indicators, 2012, TGSI, http://www.tactileindicators.net/integrated_tactiles.htm
Tactile Paving, 2015, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tactile_paving

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Train

Do you prefer the slow or the fast trains?

  • Trains are transportation vehicles that travel along rails and can transport large quantities of people or other objects, while the engine or powered part of the vehicle is generally known as a ‘locomotive’.
  • Today, trains are typically moved via the use of diesel fuel or electric power; and other means, like magnetic levitation, are utilised in some circumstances, while steam, gravity and horse power were common past fuels.
  • The term ‘train’ originates from the word ‘trahere’, a Latin word that means ‘to pull or draw’.
  • Train cars or carriages containing luggage, cargo or people are typically pulled by a locomotive, or two or more, depending on the power required, or they can be self-powered.
  • Trains are generally classified under short and long distance variants, the former often connecting city suburbs or other smaller cities, while the latter travels through many cities or far distances.

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  • Trains generally move along two parallel rails that are part of a railway track, although some use only one rail, such as monorails, while others use alternative technology.
  • The invention of the train grew out of the creation of the earlier wagonways, and it was made more possible after the steam engine was built, although it was not until 1763, when Scottish engineer James Watt remodeled the original engine, did the power source become practical.
  • Many high-speed trains can run at operational speeds of 350 km/hour (217 miles/hour), while the record for the fastest was set in 2007, by the French-owned TGV, and ran at 574.8 km/hour (357.2 miles/hour).
  • The first steam locomotive was invented in 1804 in Britain by engineer Richard Trevithick, although it was not until Englishmen Matthew Murray and George Stephenson built on the ideas of Trevithick in 1812 and 1814 respectively, that trains became a feasible transport option.
  • Specific trains are named primarily to increase their popularity, and a notable named train in history was the ‘Orient Express’, that ran in Europe from 1883 to 2009.
Bibliography:
Train, 2015, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Train
Train Invention – Who Invented Train?, n.d, Train History, http://www.trainhistory.net/train-invention/who-invented-train/
Who Invented The Train?, Who Invented It?, 2015, http://invention.yukozimo.com/who-invented-the-train/

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Aircraft Boneyard

Just imagine a film set in an aircraft boneyard.

  • Aircraft boneyards are areas of land that hold aircraft that have been abandoned, retired from service, or are non-functional.
  • ‘Aircraft boneyards’ are also known as ‘aircraft graveyards’, and they are located in a number of countries around the world, including Russia, the United States, and Australia.
  • Aircraft boneyards are generally used as a space to store excess planes, or as a holding area for aircraft waiting to be recycled, and they can also include a maintenance facility.
  • Most commonly, aircraft boneyards are situated in desert areas, as plane corrosion is less likely, and the ground is usually firm and solid.
  • The largest aircraft boneyard in the world is ‘the Boneyard’, formally known as the ‘309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group’ (AMARG).
Aeroplane Boneyard, Aircraft Graveyard, Ten Random Facts, Tucson, America, Aerial, Birds Eye, Flickr
Aircraft Boneyard at Tuscon
Image courtesy of Daniel Lobo/Flickr
  • Common reasons for aircraft abandonment include war damage, aging, lower demand during wars, and increasing economical expenses.
  • Large quantities of aircraft were left abandoned in aircraft boneyards after World War II, during aircraft upgrades to jet engines in the 1970s, in the 9/11 disaster aftermath in 2001, and during economic problems from 2007.
  • Aircraft sent to aircraft boneyards are generally preserved and sealed by being coated in a layer of latex mixture, which protects the interior and reflects heat, while oil is used to fill tanks and preserve the engines.
  • Some planes in aircraft boneyards can be used again in the future, so aircraft inspections often occur at intervals of around four years, while other planes are commonly used for spare parts.
  • Most aircraft boneyards are not open to the public, although some large facilities may open for visitors, and these sometimes have a museum onsite with planes on display.
Bibliography:
Aircraft Boneyard, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aircraft_boneyard
Field Guide to Aircraft Boneyards, 2009, John A Weeks III, http://www.johnweeks.com/boneyard/
List and Map of Active and Post-WWII Aircraft Boneyards and Storage Facilities, 2015, AirplaneBoneyards.com, http://www.airplaneboneyards.com/airplane-boneyards-list-and-map.htm
Zentner J, Airplane Graveyards, 2015, DesertUSA, http://www.desertusa.com/arizona-desert/airplane-graveyards.html

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Street Name

Did you remember that street name?

  • Street names, also known as ‘road names’ or ‘odonyms’, are names that most commonly have two parts, used to identify and classify a street or road.
  • Typically, a street name has a unique or ‘specific’ name, such as ‘Clyde’, as well as a classifying or ‘generic’ name, such as ‘Street’.
  • Street names may include a direction in the name, such as ‘north’, often used to describe separate parts of the street.
  • Commonly, the specific part of street names originates from notable people’s surnames, vegetation, natural items or numbers.
  • A single road may receive multiple street names, commonly referring to the same street within two different areas, sections or boundaries.

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  • Occasionally, highways and main streets are left unnamed, but instead are referred to by a number.
  • Common classifications of street names include drives, roads, streets, avenues, lanes, highways, boulevards, courts, crescents, freeways and expressways.
  • Street names are typically presented on a sign, known as a ‘street sign’, at the intersections, and the signs may be colour coded, as a further identifier.
  • The generic part of a street name generally refers to the size, shape, function, or surrounding geography of the road.
  • Sometimes streets are renamed, and this can be for a variety of different reasons, from political to language changes, or a negative association.
Bibliography:
History of Street Names and Street Naming in North America, 2009, Potifos, http://potifos.com/streetname.html
Soniak M, What’s the Difference Between a Street and a Road?, 2012, Mental Floss, http://mentalfloss.com/article/30020/whats-difference-between-street-and-road
Street or Road Name, 2015, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Street_or_road_name

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Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

What are your opinions on unmanned aerial vehicles?

  • Unmanned aerial vehicles are aircraft that are controlled remotely, and therefore do not carry any humans.
  • ‘Unmanned aerial vehicles’ are also known as ‘unpiloted aerial vehicles’, ‘unmanned aircraft’, ‘remotely piloted aircraft’, ‘drones’, ‘UAVs’, ‘UA’ and ‘RPA’, among others.
  • Early unmanned aerial vehicles were balloon bombs, manufactured in Europe’s Austria, and were used on Italy’s Venice during the middle of the 19th century; and in the early 20th century, drones were developed for use as target practice by the military.
  • Numerous countries have stated it is illegal to possess and fly unmanned aerial vehicles under normal circumstances, and government consent is usually required.
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles come in a variety of sizes and shapes, from small robots to life-sized aeroplanes, and they have been used during dangerous missions, such as rescue, to scout, or to broadcast, among others, and have been used extensively as military tools.

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An American Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Image courtesy of Marian Doss/Flickr
  • Large organisations, such as Google, Amazon, military groups and America’s Central Intelligence Agency, investigate and develop unmanned aerial vehicles for their organisation’s purposes.
  • In 2006, the United States were the leading manufacturers of unmanned aerial vehicles, producing more than 60% of the worldwide total, and the machines have become a popular choice for some purposes, due to their relatively low cost.
  • As of 2014, the longest flight time recorded of an unmanned aerial vehicle was 330 hours and 22 minutes, which is just over 14 days, and this world record was set by the ‘Zephyr’, which was built by a United Kingdom based company, QinetiQ.
  • It is against the law to shoot down unmanned aerial vehicles, however if a drone manages to damage something such as a kite, tethered balloon or other property, the offending drone company is liable to be sued.
  • Film producers, farmers, real estate agents and some lawyers, among others, have shown particular interest in commercial unmanned aerial vehicles, however use of drones for various purposes requires a legal framework to operate under, especially regarding privacy laws, and legislation concerning their use is yet to be passed in some countries.
Bibliography:
Home, n.d., The UAV, http://www.theuav.com/
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unmanned_aerial_vehicle

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Black Box Flight Recorder

Black box flight recorders are a great help for determining the cause of an accident.

  • Black box flight recorders are devices located in aircraft to record data in case of an accident, and are made to survive at least 1000°C (1832°F) and a g-force of 3400.
  • ‘Black box flight recorders’ are also known as ‘black boxes’ and ‘flight recorders’, usually refers to two separate containers; one a ‘flight data recorder’ or FDR, and the other, a ‘cockpit voice recorder’ or CVD, although sometimes they are held in the same sealed container.
  • It is not known for certain why black box flight recorders are referred to as ‘black boxes’, as they are generally coloured in special bright orange or yellow reflective paint, so that they are more visible in search situations, and they are usually labelled with a warning: ‘FLIGHT RECORDER DO NOT OPEN’ in English and French. 
  • Two of the first innovators of black box flight recorders were François Hussenot and Paul Beaudouin of France, in 1939, and their recorders used a photographic film process.
  • Black box flight recorders have the function of recording aircraft performance, voice and audio signals, and sometimes visual footage, although this is not common.

Black Box Flight Recorder, Orange, Cockpit Voice Recorder, CVD, DO NOT OPEN, Two, Ten Random Facts, Flickr

CVD Flight Recorder
Image courtesy of Joe Kunzler/Flickr
  • The first black box flight recorders to include both flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders were invented in the 1950s, in Melbourne by Australian David Warren, a chemist, and a prototype was completed in 1958.
  • Black box flight recorders were originally included in the front of an aircraft, but later placed near the tail, as they are more likely to survive damage in that section of the plane.
  • Black box flight recorders include an underwater locator beacon (ULB) that is automatically activated in water and sends an ultrasonic signal, known as a ‘ping’, that can be transmitted from up to 6,000 metres (20,000 feet) under water, for approximately 30 days – the duration of its battery life.
  • In 1960, black box flight recorders were required to be on all commercial planes in Australia, the first country in the world to have such a law, and these laws now extend to most aircraft in the world that can carry at least 20 passengers.
  • It is suggested that black box flight recorders may become obsolete, as live streaming of information from aircraft via satellites to a base station would provide a much easier means of retrieving the information in a crash situation, and this technology is already used on some aircraft.
Bibliography:
Flight Recorder, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_recorder
What is a Black Box?, 2014, National Geographic Channel, http://natgeotv.com/uk/air-crash-investigation/black-box

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