Collaboration on Science-hack projects

I devise quite a few inventive and innovative ideas on a regular basis. While I make a note of most inventions and innovations, which are subsequently filed away for future investigation, for the odd one or two I open a project folder, for further development beyond an initial idea.

I was watching Click on Saturday 4th February via BBC iPlayer catching up on the past few weeks I had missed, and I saw an excerpt on a story about start-up company Makani Power who have created a flying kite that produces electricity; they are funded by Google and the US Department of Energy.

I was fairly shocked to see this latest kite idea for electrical generation, as I also have had for several years a similar idea to use a kite for electrical generation. However my initial shock occurred during November 2010 when I was watching Wallace & Gromit’s World Of Invention on BBC and learnt about the “Magenn” project.

I have learnt that often when one comes up with a new idea, invention or innovation, there will be several other people around the world who will also come up with a similar idea, invention or innovation. The success of turning an idea from paper into a working model or usable technology can be a complicated and prolonged process. Having good ideas is one thing, turning them into practical usable machinery, processes, or other such useful paraphernalia can be a challenge, but often an exciting one.

Often this process can be helped while working in collaboration with others. A collaborative thought space where one can share and bounce ideas creates innovations while helping to find solutions to problems. There are a growing number of events that can bring people together in a creative space to engineer science-hack solutions to ideas. Science-hack-day conventions (originated by Yahoo) have become more widely publicised in recent years; Google also runs a Science Fair for 13-18 year old students.

While science hack days are excellent events, they are few and far between. The internet can be a great way to connect with other people, as can clubs and associations. However finding a regular inventors/innovators local club, where people can collaborate on science-hack based projects on a regular basis, has proved to be elusive; that is until I found a key search term and a BBC Click World Service radio podcast.

Prior to this discovery, the closest I have come was reading about Science-hack-day conventions after the event. This good fortune has led me to locating London Hackspace. For all those interested in locating other local Hackspace events, please point your web browser to Wikipedia article Hackerspace. Another good place to start is also with Science Hack Day web site.

So now that one has found a science hack space, what collaborative projects or suggestions could be worked on? For some inspirational ideas, one could start by watching a video on Click about Makani Power kite technology, or listening to a 60 second podcast on combining plant cells to photovoltaic devices, or reading about two Canadian teenagers who placed a Lego figure into space. Also George Musser (a senior editor at Scientific American) posed a question in Scientific American Blogs asking if a balloon could fly in outer space? and in November 2010 there was a news story where a British team launched a paper aeroplane into space.

There are an infinite number of more inventive and innovative ideas available… Let our imagination run wild and think of the impossible or at least highly improbably to make some fun and exciting projects. Thinking in a confined construct limits our imagination, thinking outside of the box often leads to exciting new ideas. I think that Science-hack collaborative spaces help to drive innovation and enables ideas to flourish.

For other ideas, one could find a group of people to have a Raspberry Pi science-hack-day with accompanying Gertboard to construct robots, or a balloon/rocket steam ship hybrid for a moon trip, or coding a Raspberry Pi to model a time-rotor algorithm while controlling an accompanying magnetic-mirror-container apparatus, or kite energy production projects, or solar sails in space made from a combination of Nomex, Kevlar and shape memory polymer, or magnetic shielding for Lego astronauts with accompanying video cameras and Raspberry Pi equipment, or propelling a balloon in outer space with sails using a magneto-electric propulsion drive…

As for me, I think I will set coordinates for a London Science Hackspace event in the near future.


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