Monthly Archives: April 2013


Erik Schlangen: A “self-healing” asphalt

(A shorter post this evening)

This week I have the joy of wearing a different hat in the evenings while being the asm for a great community theater show continuing into it’s second week.  Young Frankenstein!


(The hours are long, the work both tedious and exhausting, the cast and crew are gigantic, meaning standard politics and group dynamics apply, and I get zero pay.  It’s still worth it)

However, on this past Saturday I had the notion of doing a quick shopping run for some things before that evening’s program.  I had approximately three hours left in the day and I made a quick assessment.  It would take approximately a half hour to drive the distance, maybe twenty minutes at the store, and a half hour back, which should have been plenty of time to make the show.

Much to my surprise, the main road to the highway was backed up by a hundred cars due to road construction.  I navigated around and took the side routes (these were also “busy” but I had expectation it would clear up) only to encounter additional slowdowns due to even MORE road construction.  And this happened repeatedly.

Long story short, I never completed my shopping task.  At the hour and twenty mark I had to turn back to ensure I’d make that evening’s start time, all the while grumbling and mentally dissecting the problems of traffic congestion.

What is the deal with road construction?  Admittedly enough, it is the start of spring and it’s time for these projects to bloom like dandelions on a lawn but this was ridiculous.

The traffic flow design, had failed me.  I was unable to reach my destination (within the time limit that I had), what could have stopped this?

In the land of Ted Talks, this could have helped enormously.

Speaker: Erik Schlangen

Total Video Time: 6 minutes, 50 seconds

SELF HEALING ASPHALT.  Why isn’t this stuff everywhere already?

To be honest, the first few minute and a half is exactly what I look like whenever I cook dinner.  It’s just as dangerous, and what comes out of the microwave looks exactly like a brick of asphalt.

Just trust me when I say it tastes better than it looks.

Now memory metal has been around for a while and this demonstration immediately made me think of that.  Effectively, like the T-1000 from the Terminator movies, it’s a metal that reshapes itself back into it’s original ‘shaped’ form when heat is applied.  However, in Schlangen’s demonstration he actually ‘splits’ the block and mentions it needs to be cooled so it’s obviously not that.

In any case, you can learn more about the metal here:

A quick video too:

So if this asphalt isn’t made up of memory metal, then what the heck?  Is it really something as simple as steel wool?  Can tiny steel wool fibers really provide that much strength to something as porous as asphalt?

Obviously, as due to the experiment revealed, the answer is yes.  He microwaves the asphalt for only two minutes AND UNLIKE when I cook, the microwave did not explode nor did any fire alarms set off.  This tells me that the overall temperature isn’t excessively hot and the steel wool’s heat related expansion/contraction probably realigns it in a way similar to velcro.

Of course, this is simply my conjecture and a made up way of describing it that makes easy sense (and VERY likely all wrong) and the real science can be found elsewhere.

Schlangen’s paper describing the process and materials, can be found here: (7 Mb file)

I really look forward to the day where ideas like these are implemented in everyday use.

Maybe by then, I’ll have learned how to properly use a microwave.

Drive safe and share,


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Posted by on April 16, 2013 in TED Talks


A Future Where All Robots Have Penises – Onion Talks – Ep. 5


In this week’s Talks Lucas Oberlin examines the incoming improvements to society thanks to advancement of socially integrated technology.  We do not need to fear technology and there is very simple ways for people to be more accustomed to it.  And this begins with some very basic and innate human programming.  Not only will these advancements assist is in the workplace or on the road, but also in our kitchens and garages.

Link to Talk:

Total Length: 2 minutes, 40 seconds

Speaker: Lucas Oberlin

And so I’m stuck with a bunch of questions that I’d like to see if I can answer.

5 Things about A Future Where All Robots Have Penises that you didn’t know

1. What the hell did I just watch???

What the fuck?  What the hell talk was this?  Of all the satire videos from the Onion based on the TED Talks, I ended up watching the one video where there’s a metal pyramid with a hot dog wanger sticking out of it?  And it goes around on a killing rampage at the end?!  People may doubt that it was programmed to kill but it seemed to me that ‘penis fail’ immediately started it’s secondary programming of ‘Kill everyone in the room’.  This is programmed into more things than you might realize.

Hmm.. This might also explain some of history’s greatest villains.  (Wow, this is already more enlightening than I thought it would be.)

2) If you give a Robot a Penis, Don’t do the following:

Don’t ask it to show it, all it’ll do is wave it around like it’s conducting an orchestra.  It’s pointless.

Don’t touch it with a pen.  It is quite obvious from the video that interacting with the robot’s penis causes the robot to deflate (also known as ‘lose its confidence) and thus leading to it’s self destruction.  (And then go bat shit insane and murder people.)

Name your robot Wesley.  Actually, a robot named Wesley is probably fine.

3. Oberlin might actually be right.

Let’s face it, technology is embraced by many industries but the one that leads the charge is a certain “entertainment industry” that makes it stick.  Movies and movie theaters only became big after the invention of grainy black and white peepshows.  The VHS versus Beta battle?  VHS had a lot more XXX titles to its name.  The same goes for DVDs, pay channels, top shelf magazines.  When I heard about the invention of the internet, I was skeptical that it would surpass the obviously superior FTP site technologies at the time.  Shortly after I had heard that ‘the internet was for porn’ and everyone knew right away that this technology would be embraced by millions.

Oberlin is simply thinking ahead, and when he says that people will accept robots into the home, it might just be because of the vibrate function.

4. The Satire of the Onion Talks is really next level.

Seriously speaking, it is remarkable that the TED Talks are so popular that it becomes an object of satire.  That’s one of those milestones that happens in the media industry these days.  You know you’ve made it as a star the moment you get ‘Punk’d’ or ‘Hidden Camera’d’.

5. This will start a Cold War of Robots with Penises

How do you “better” a robot with a penis?  The answer is simple, you build a bigger robot with a bigger penis.  The only way to stop a bad guy with a robot that has a penis, is a good guy with a robot that has a penis.  Soon, you will have hundreds of thousands of giant robots with giant penises all pointing at targets across the globe.  And there’s a war with NO wiener.


5. Happy April Fools Day (belated by now)

Don’t share this one, it’s.. ridiculous.


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Posted by on April 2, 2013 in In General..