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Flip test: imagine continuum mechanics as a revolutionary idea

Zhigang Suo's picture

Let's say the world has only e-books, then someone introduces this technology called 'paper.' It's cheap, portable, lasts essentially forever, and requires no batteries. You can't write over it once it's been written on, but you buy more very cheaply. Wouldn't that technology come to dominate the market?

With this example, Andraw McAfee, of Harvard Business School, begins his discussion of the technology flip test. Such a test may let us see through hypes.

Let me paraphrase his example with one close to us. Let's say the world has only multiscale simulations, then someone introduces this new idea called "continuum theory". Instead of designing an airplane from a pile of electrons and protons, you make experimental observations at a macroscopic scale, and give input to the theory. The combination of the experiment and the theory is cheaper and gives more reliable predictions. Wouldn't this idea come to dominate the market?

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Ji Wang's picture

Zhigang:

 This is possible and should be done, except that the complete and reaslistic simulation cannot be done even with traditional design process.

Recently we have been discussing with some industrial partners on complete digital design.  The problem is that the design in component, system, and function levels cannot be done today.  For instance, in an airplane, you cannot combine the structure, power, air, and comfortable factors together.  Some companies and engineers are still waiting for the combination of all codes for seperate analysis into a big one.  This is not an easy-job today.

We can think about having such capabilities with powerful computers and repacked software, but it needs a lot of work.

Henry Tan's picture

Therefore, even though there are so many fancy stuffs coming out, linear elasticity is still a fundamental course for our undergraduate students. The theory is simple, but has a lot...

Henry Tan's picture

There is an entropy issue that stays against flip test.

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