Monthly Archives: August 2010

Super bus

For an etymologic take on super – from latin “supra” meaning above – there is no need to go further than…Shenzhen, home of Hashi Future Parking Equipment.
What looks like a whale swallowing cars is in fact a project to maximize mobility on a given stretch. For now buses are “in competition” for space with cars. The super bus project aims to improve mobility (up to 30%) on a given stretch by superimposing a moving structure on top of the road. superbus2.jpg
On the one hand this may sound like a good idea given the level of road congestion in Chinese cities. On the other hand one can just imagine the chaos caused by an accident “under the bus”. We will soon be fixed as whether there is any future for the project as the superstructure will soon be tested on the outskirts of Beijing. superbusb.jpgP.S.: Link to the YouTube super bus video

The quest for depth

So not only is China reaching for the stars, it is also setting its goggles on the deep seas. According to Nature increased funding for oceanography, especially research and development of deep-sea technology should be included in the next five-year plan (2011-2015).

The interest for the deep seas is of course fuelled by noble scientific endavours such as having geophysicists study hydrotermal activity on the Southwest Indian  Ridge! But commercial motivation are not too far: drilling data gathered in the South East have proved useful for the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, something that will encourage China’s hunt for offshore oil and minerals. And for those left wondering, hydrothermal vents have large sulfide deposits rich in copper, zinc, gold, and other minerals.

Admiral Zheng He would be proud of this return to the sea!

The appeal of the Apple Peel

Here comes another by-product of the Shanzhai culture. Yosion Technology – a small startup company in the South of China with less than 10 employees - has come up with a case that turns an iPod Touch into an iPhone. The devise is said to be ready for mass production just as soon as it clears the “small” obstacle of intellectual property rights.

There are dim chances that the Apple Peel 520 will ever make it to the mass market. Beside IP issues the device faces a tougher battle: it requires users to jailbreak their iTouch and, for the time being, appears to suffer from quirks.Two segments of users may really be interested in the hybrid though: cost-conscious users and experimenters. Not exactly the usual Apple customer segments but maybe ones that other Shanzhai manufacturers will keep serving with their creativity.


Full power

China’s spatial program is once again getting media coverage. Engineers have their eyes set on developing a powerful engine for the next generation of space rockets.

Capable of generating 5 times more thrust than the current generation, the new rocket would have a single objective: sending a spacecraft to the moon.

Why would a developing country spend resources on spatial conquest? For sure China is not alone. Both Indonesia and India seem keen on getting space rockets of their own. There are evident economic reasons as launching satellites for “rocket-less” countries and firms provides a good source of revenue. In spite of the relative lack of gravity a presence in space also carries its geopolitical weight Finally the space race offers a welcome distraction from more earthly matters such as rising inequality while boosting the pride of the nation.