Archive for Sherman Hall
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You are browsing the archives of Sherman Hall.
Background image: Molten glass. Credit: Michael Germann; Dreamstime.com.
Peter and I thought it would be fun to share our five favorite posts from 2012. Finding that choosing only five was nigh impossible, I decided to sort my picks into three categories, which instantly grew my budget to 15 stories!
Advances in science and engineering are subject to forces beyond physics, chemistry, and mathematics, such as politics, culture, history, and more.
USPTO issues flurry of new rules to implement ‘America Invents Act’
Archaic US patent rules were thrown out with adoption of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. New rules, though, mean changes in the strategy of innovation.
Data drives engineering of ceramics; workshop asks ‘how well?’
Computational approaches to materials engineering are only as good as the data they consume and digest. A DOD-sponsored workshop evaluated the state-of-affairs for electronic access to ceramic property data and the attendant challenges and opportunities.
Science research drives economic growth, but it’s expensive and slow
What role should governments take in investing in basic research, and how does a nation’s R&D investment impact GDP? There is nothing like an election year—in the US and abroad—to draw attention to what governments should spend money on versus what they do spend money on.
Video: Grand challenges in ceramic science—Preliminary findings from workshop
Researchers go bravely where others cannot or dare not. A group of the nation’s top ceramic science researchers convened to tease out the largest scientific challenges that can be addressed with ceramic materials.
Historic January 1987: YBCO superconductors discovered and Super Bowl XXI
This story about the discovery of high-temperature YBCO superconductors shows that research breakthroughs are often the progeny of systematic, well-executed fundamental research… and serendipity.
I’m an unabashed materials geek, and these were some of my favorite super-sciency stories—with the qualification that I mostly write about science that intrigues me, so this is a lot like choosing a favorite child.
Understanding the ‘between’ spaces: Interfacial phases and solid-state sintering
The formation and stability of interfacial phases in the solid state drives properties, so understanding how interfaces form and the thermodynamics driving them is of paramount importance.
Mullite-like mixed oxides may replace platinum for catalyzing diesel pollution
Manganese-oxide compounds with the mullite crystal structure may one day displace platinum as the catalyst agent in automobile catalytic converters.
High-alumina optical fibers get around Brillouin scattering limitations
Ever wonder how data gets to your smart phone or laptop so fast? A group of glass scientists is working on the next generation on optical fibers that will move more data, faster, and with more accuracy.
High critical current density doped pnictide superconductors
Harnessing the promise of high-temperature superconductivity requires a deep understanding of the physics of magnetism and the influences of composition and microstructure. Plus, what’s not to love about the word “pnictide?”
Heat transfer—two new studies look at effects of interface bonding, surface roughness
The digital age is generating some very sophisticated heat transfer challenges. How exactly does heat egress from a surface, and how can the mechanism be engineered?
Useful metrics for comparing new energy storage technologies
Measuring is an essential experimental activity. However, scientists and engineers must continually ask themselves the question, “Am I measuring something meaningful and useful?”
And this last group of five was just fun to write about.
Don’t wait in line for coffee: How to know where the business opportunity is
A reflection on business, opportunity, finding the way, and waiting in line.
Oldest known pottery dates back 20,000 years and may have changed the course of human history
The earliest ceramic engineers designed pots for cooking and brewing, proof that since time immemorial, engineers bring the life of the party. Literally.
Friday fun video—Gravity-defying Slinky
Adulthood does not mean toys become irrelevant. This video shows that scientists never stop learning the lessons that educational toys can teach.
Technical ceramics and art ceramics—only a brain apart
In the world of ceramics, is there a line between art and science? Yes, sort of—and no, not really. The American Ceramic Society serves the professional needs of engineers, scientists, studio artists, and hobbyists.
A castle vacation, poster session included
An October vacation to Germany included a conference at a Bavarian castle and the opportunity to talk shop with some of the best minds in the world working on biomineralization.
Were you counting? Me neither. Did you have a favorite story or topic that we covered? Let us know!
Best wishes for a Happy New Year!
In graduate school, my experiment involved melting glasses made of fly ash in silica crucibles in a six-burner, gas-fired Remy furnace. It was great — fire, heat, the white-orange glow of a furnace at temperature, the final burst of flame from bleeding the gas lines. Making glass was very satisfying.
Every now and then, though, the furnace got too hot for the glass composition. I’d open up the furnace to grab a crucible for quenching and instead find a slumped freeform shape with glass flowing out like lava and foamy slag gurgling up and over the sides.
Our field of engineering is unique. Our medium — ceramics — has intrinsically common ground for science and art. Just enough of our technical ceramics world overlaps with the art ceramics world that we can appreciate artisans’ mastery of form, dimension, composition, color and technique.
The American Ceramic Society is very active in the art ceramics community through its affiliated Ceramic Publications Company. CPC publishes Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated and produces the Ceramic Arts Daily blog, and just last week CPC introduced the Society’s first app: Daily Clay. It is currently available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
The app offers seven images per week (one per day, on a rolling basis) and users can save images in their favorites library in order to keep them beyond that seven days. They also can add notes to store with saved images, share images via social networking and sort their favorites by category. The free version allows up to 20 favorites, while the full version (US$2.99) offers unlimited favorites. The images are selected by the editors of Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated, and its website, Ceramic Arts Daily.
Sherman Hall, managing director of CPC explained how the app was born.
Our intent with Daily Clay was to make an app for ceramic artists that was useful in the studio, in the classroom — really wherever a customer happened to be — and to satisfy a market need in a way that other media can’t. In surveys of our current audience for preferred content, the type of content that scored highest was (not surprisingly) images of finished ceramic art. As it turns out, we have a lot of those, so it became a matter of structuring the delivery package and coming up with the proper depth of functionality (sorting by type of work, links to further info, social sharing, etc.).
Even with virtually no formal publicity, Daily Clay has been downloaded more than 2,000 times in its first week in the iTunes App Store. An official launch is planned for the second week of April (after the launch of a completely redesigned Ceramic Arts Daily website). Hall says, “One major launch at a time is all we can handle!”
He is expects the app to be well received. “Our surveys also suggest that our current Ceramic Arts Daily audience of 100,000+ registered users should include at least 25,000 iPhone and iPad owners, so we’ll be looking for that download number to jump significantly in the near future. “
For us tech-types the app is a nice way for us to admire the beauty of our favorite material and the skill of the artists who create them.
The app is available through iTunes.
Is this a familiar experience? You are at a social gathering and somebody asks what you do for a living. You tell them you are a ceramic engineer, and as sure as oxygen follows nitrogen on the periodic table of the elements, the next question will be whether you can fix their dish/teapot/flower pot, etc.
No clue. Sorry.
But, that does not mean that technical ceramists are not interested in the beautiful artifacts that ceramic artists and potters create. We left-brainers admire the ability of our right-brain brethren to control and create in a medium that we endeavor to control and engineer. Our training and curiosity have us guessing: what transition metals yield that color; how did the artist make such a thin-walled vessel without it collapsing; what kind of atmosphere is in a wood fired kiln, etc.? More than a few ACerS Fellows were first attracted to ceramic materials through art and eventually felt drawn to a more rigorous understanding of the material and its properties and processing.
The American Ceramic Society was founded in 1898 to serve the needs of technical ceramists, and almost a century later, the Society extended its reach into the art world when it acquired Ceramics Monthly magazine in 1996, which is now in its 60th year. In 1997, Pottery Making Illustrated was launched to address the needs of potters interested in learning ceramic techniques, and the Ceramic Publications Company was born.
CPC is a wholly owned subsidiary of The American Ceramic Society, and has grown into a robust business that includes the aforementioned magazines, the Ceramic Art Handbook series and other art books and the Potters Council, a benefit-providing organization for professional potters and clay enthusiasts.
According to Sherman Hall, CPC managing director, the mission of the Ceramic Publications Company is “to provide inspiration, information, and instruction for practitioners of studio ceramics.” Hall says, “This audience includes professional artists and potters, instructors and students at all levels, as well as gallery personnel and collectors.”
In 2007 the Ceramic Arts Daily website was launched, growing the audience from 40,000 to over 100,000 and rising. Hall says, “The transition from print to the web really opened our eyes to the power of good information delivered in several formats. Our reach and reputation increased exponentially.”
Hall attributes CPC’s success to several factors. “In the course of building these products for this market, we have internalized one thing more deeply than anything else, which is that content is king, regardless of format. The task of identifying and developing content that this market wants has been far easier for CPC than it could otherwise have been, because the individuals responsible for acquiring that content come from the audience themselves. Not only does the editorial staff have extensive training in the ceramic arts, but much of our content is contracted out to experts, artists, and authors who are active in the field.”
CPCs business areas fall into three categories.
Ceramic Arts Daily (six emails per week, three new editorial posts per week, one always being a video)
Ceramic Arts Daily DVDs (12 per year)
Four workshops per year, plus sponsorship of others’ workshops
Group health insurance, shipping discounts, merchant services, mentoring, and several other benefits
Ceramics Monthly (published ten times per year)
Pottery Making Illustrated (published six times per year)
Ceramic Art Handbooks (2-3 per year)
Other art books (2 per year)
Engineers and scientists will appreciate the Potters Council calendars, which are illustrated with stunning ceramic artwork. The image at the top of this post, for example, is from June in the Teapot Collection calendar. Other calendar themes are: Alternative Firing Collection, Food + Function Collection, General Collection and Sculpture Collection. The calendars are priced at $19.95 and available from the Potters Council website.
Subscribing to the Ceramic Arts Daily may help rouse the inner creator that engineers and scientists need to look at technical problems from a different vantage point. Or, perhaps, CAD may just provide a pleasant break in the day!