This episode of my series, Surfing the Knit, is a bit of a fudge. This occasional series is one in which I point out interesting, or fun, or bizarre items of knitting interest that I pick up while surfing the internet. In truth, I found this while browsing through my latest hard copy of Science, the weekly journal of the AAAS which describes itself as The World’s Leading Journal of Original Scientific Research, Global News and Commentary. But it’s online too (link below) so I could have found it while surfing the knit.
One of my favorite issues of the year is the one in which they announce the winners of the Visualization Challenge. Winners and honorable mentions are made in a number of categories, such as photography, games and apps, etc. The winner of the 2013 Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge in the Posters and Graphics category (also winning the People’s choice award) is a poster detailing research into smart fabrics being conducted at Drexel University.
The poster is called Wearable Power, and is by Kristy Jost, Babak Anasori, Majid Beidaghi, Genevieve Dion, and Yury Gogotsi, Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This research group, in effect, is making knitted batteries (in their words a “wearable capacitor”). Scientific posters are a mainstay of the science community; having seen hundreds of them I can tell you that it is very hard to produce one that both conveys the science and is visually arresting and interesting.
If you are interested in this poster, and indeed the rest of the winners, I urge you to either pull out your copy of Science magazine (doesn’t everyone have one?) or check it out online here. The science behind smart fabrics is really fascinating and, well, smart.
The part I like best? This bit of the blurb accompanying the article:
“Jost spends much of her time in Drexel’s knitting research laboratory—yes, you read that right—which boasts state-of the-art equipment donated by Shima Seiki, a Japanese company that makes computerized 3D knitting systems. The machines can knit an entire seamless garment in 20 minutes, and Jost has become adept at using the design software that drives them—although she admits sheepishly that she has not yet learned to knit by hand.”
from Science Magazine, 7 Feb 2014, vol. 343, no 6171
Go check it out and see some of the amazing work being done in the field of visualizing science. Don’t miss another very cool entry by Lorrie Faith Cranor of Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Called Security Blanket, it is a quilt displaying the 1000 most common security passwords from a games website as a word cloud. (You will be astonished by the total lack of creativity and, hence, lack of security of the passwords.) This is another fabulous example of the creativity that crafters can bring to science and science can bring to craft.