Time Waits for No Engineer

A new computer game lets kids solve age-old engineering problems

2 min read

How would you have arranged a radar array to protect London during the Blitz? How do you lower a drawbridge without crashing it, using only medieval technology? How can you build a pyramid out of massive stones using only sand, clay, and ropes? And how do you inveigle kids, 7 to 17, into tackling such questions?

Game designer Ray Shingler has solved all those puzzles with Time Engineers , a video game in which players ride a magnetic egg back in time to three eras. In each, players solve two engineering problems. As would-be electrical engineers, they create radar arrays; as mechanical engineers, they design a diesel submarine; and as civil engineers they build those drawbridges and pyramids.

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
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Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford
Blue

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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