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Concrete Theory Has a Mini Library December 17, 2009

Posted by mgodoublems in Uncategorized.
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So I have been looking at expanding my library lately.  I already have quite the excellent selection of books that I would consider ‘permanent library’ material – books that I will utilize for years down the road.  I would call it a library, because I have a large number of friends who borrow my books and take obscene amounts of time returning them.  The book list that I have been adding to to the right is predominantly books I own.  I am also receiving a Kindle over the holidays, I believe, so it will become less of a loaning library for some books.  I do intend to continue purchasing paper books – perhaps not the first time I read them – for the majority of the books of this style, but my lighter reading will likely become entirely electronic.  It would be nice if Amazon included the Kindle book with each physical book purchase for free.  I think that’d be a great way to boost physical book sales, and Kindle sales.  Here’s a list of a few of the books that I own off the top of my head that fit into the ‘permanent library’ category.

Key: Electronic Books in Green, On Loan in Red

  • The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
  • Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman
  • Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam
  • Shaping Things by Bruce Sterling

I will be adding another tab to the top of the page, titled My Library, since the sidebar book list may get a bit long.  I’ll keep the sidebar book list pared down to the last few, or the most influential.  I may re-title it ‘The Essentials’ or something.

I feel like using ‘Concrete Theory’ as a title for the book-related and non-book related thought posts works quite well – thoughts on paper are concrete theory – and just dividing them between ‘book analysis’ and whatever else seems to be working well enough for me.

Concrete Theory Outlines My Education December 9, 2009

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Next semester will be my final at the University of Michigan for undergraduate, as I will be graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in Materials Science Engineering.  Over these four years, I have taken a multitude of courses in and out of my major.  Here’s an overview of every course I’ve taken at Michigan.  The few most influential have notes attached to them..

Fall 2006

  • Engineering 100: Design and the Real World
    • Professor Jason Daida
      • Still in contact, a strong influence on me – I will mention him at times.
      • Has prompted several of my book purchases over the past few years.
    • Case-study course that introduced me to the merits of teamwork.
  • Math 116: Calculus II
  • Physics 140: General Physics I & Physics 141: Lab I

Winter 2007

  • Chemistry 210: Structures and Reactivity I (Organic Chemistry I) & Chemistry 211: Organic Lab 1
  • Economics 101: Principles of Economics I – Microeconomics
  • Math 216: Introduction to Differential Equations
  • MatSciE 220: Introduction to Materials and Manufacturing

Fall 2007

  • History 200: Greece to 201 B.C.
  • MatSciE 330: Thermodynamics of Materials
  • MechEng 211: Introduction to Solid Mechanics
  • Physics 240: General Physics II & Physics 241: Lab 1

Winter 2008

  • ClCiv 341: Classics & Cinema
  • MatSciE 242: Physics of Materials
  • MatSciE 335: Kinetics and Transport
  • MatSciE 490: Research Problems: TWIP Steel (Amit Ghosh)

Fall 2008

  • ClCiv 376: Emperors of Rome
  • GeoSci 380: Mineral Resources, Economics, and the Environment
    • Professor Steve Kesler
      • Still in contact, regular advisor on various things.
    • Sparked my interest in the mineral resource industry.
  • MatSciE 350: Principles of Engineering Materials
  • MatSciE 360: Materials Lab I
  • MatSciE 490: Research Problems: TWIP Steel (Amit Ghosh)

Winter 2009

  • ClCiv 375: War in Greek and Roman Civilization
  • History 201: Rome
  • MatSciE 365: Materials Lab II
  • MatSciE 470: Physical Metallurgy

Fall 2009

  • ClCiv 499: Independent Reading: Mining in Ancient Rome (David Potter)
  • MatSciE 420: Mechanical Behavior of Materials
  • MatSciE 489: Materials Process Design & MatSciE 493: SmartSurfaces
    • Professors Karl Daubman, John Marshall, and Max Shtein
    • Multidisciplinary/antedisciplinary design course for developing heliotropic smart surfaces
    • Sparked my interest in design and business.
  • Stats 412: Introduction to Probability and Statistics

Winter 2010

  • ArtDes 100: Drawing for Non-Majors
  • ClCiv 380: Antiquity
  • MatSciE 440: Ceramics
  • MatSciE 480: Materials Engineering Design
  • MatSciE 514: Composites
  • MilSci 102: Introduction to Leadership
  • MilSci 202: Leadership in Changing Environments

Of the seven courses I am taking next semester, four (12 credits) are required for my graduation, and the drawing and leadership courses are completely free electives.

In order, SmartSurfaces, GeoSci 380, and Engineering 100 are my three most influential courses.  I don’t think that what I learned in the classroom specifically was most important in these classes, however – instead, the advice from the professors, as well as book recommendations I have been given by them, have helped me evolve both as a student and as a professional.  Make sure to check out the website link to SmartSurfaces, it is really quite interesting.

Concrete Theory Draws on Napkins December 6, 2009

Posted by mgodoublems in Book Analysis.
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Last night I finished reading The Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam.  The My Little Black Sketchbook post line spawned from reading it.  Roam writes an extremely interesting book, defining a process for visual thinking that just works… I went from not being able to easily think visually to being able to produce visual thought diagrams in a short order over the course of the book.

I will be incorporating the things I have learned from this book into a majority of my work in the future.  Book analysis after the jump.  I’m just going to go over the final chapter, because it’s a book that really needs to be read by anyone that is interest in visual thinking and advancing their ability to express themselves.  Note: It’s not 1000 words, but it has a picture, so it is really over 1000.  The book is really a must-read.


Concrete Theory Recommends Less Kids December 5, 2009

Posted by mgodoublems in Thoughts.
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I discovered this incredible website the other day called Gapminder.  It’s a charting website that develops multi-variable plots based on demographic information.  While looking through it, I discovered this:

On the x-axis is Life expectancy at birth (years).  On the y-axis is # of children per household, distributed logarithmically.  The circle size corresponds to population.  Colors correspond to geographic region.  Even more interesting is when you go to the website for the graph and click Play at the bottom.  More technologically advanced societies had almost direct correlation between their decrease in birth rate and their increase in life expectancy.  Some dramatic jumps can be seen, which correlate to massive events.  For example, Russia’s life expectancy decreases to 12 years of age in 1933, which correlates to a massive famine that occurred from 1932-1933.

Now, I know that correlation does not, in fact, prove causation, but I wish there was a way to overlay religious practices onto the graph, instead of population.  It would be interesting to see, because there are certain religious groups (Catholics, Hasidic Jews, the Amish, Apostolic Lutherans) that wind up having a lot of kids, and I wonder if there is a diminished life expectancy involved due to the additional stresses that certain religions that require ceremony and adherence put on the psyche?

Concrete Theory Lacks Stickiness November 27, 2009

Posted by mgodoublems in Book Analysis.
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I have just finished The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell.  My second book in as many weeks by him.  This book, as with all of Gladwell’s books, has been remarkably thought-provoking.  Gladwell is an author of such talent that I am disappointed that I did not pick up his books a few years ago, when I was first prompted to by one of my professors.  He takes concepts that are impossibly large and makes them relatively simple to fathom, and I will gladly add this book to my permanent bookshelf.  I feel that I have been building a book collection that I will continuously reference from this point forward.


Concrete Theory Strives to be a Spime November 26, 2009

Posted by mgodoublems in Book Analysis.
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A month or so ago, I read a book called Shaping Things by Bruce Sterling.  This book is very broad, and for the most part deals with easily-understood topics, though there is a definite point where it reaches into the imagination concerning the future of thought organization.  Shaping Things divides society into technological epochs, and explains how they mesh and where society is going and must go for the next evolution to happen.


Concrete Theory Exists in Two Dimensions November 24, 2009

Posted by mgodoublems in Book Analysis.
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I just recently – today, on my flight back from an interview in Chicago (which went well) – finished reading Flatland, by Edwin A. Abbott.  Professor John Marshall recommended this book to me, and it is a truly remarkable analogue of some aspects of modern society for having been written in – get this – 1884.  I’ll explain why.  I won’t cover everything, but I will attempt to touch on the larger analogues.

The book is extremely abstract, and heavily influenced by  the author’s choice of vocation – Abbott was a clergyman.  However, it was somewhat heretical, and definitely can not be considered to be a ‘religious’ book by any means.


Concrete Theory Thinks Without Thinking November 22, 2009

Posted by mgodoublems in Book Analysis.
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One of the things that I intend to do is take whatever books that I have finished reading and tie them in to the big picture.

I recently finished reading Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink.  For those of you who don’t know who Malcolm Gladwell is, he has written four books, The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, and What the Dog Saw.  He also writes for The New Yorker and has his own Blog. I am currently reading Tipping Point, but I am going to make a point of not talking about books that I haven’t finished yet – without going cover to cover, I feel that I am not of enough authority on a book-based idea to speak of it.  I have also read Outliers, but do not have my copy at school with me, so I cannot make a post that directly references it until I am at home for Christmas.


Concrete Theory Dreams of Sustainability November 22, 2009

Posted by mgodoublems in Design.
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[Editor’s Note: This is copied nearly directly from my course blog.  However, it is fairly standalone without outside explanation.  I have taken out some course-specific notes and added other things to help it make more sense.  Even as such, it is still a little choppy, but it gets the point across.]

To me, sustainability is key to any design. I don’t want to design something that won’t last, and not just in the sense of physical robustness. I attended the annual SME international conference in Denver, CO earlier this year, and listened to the collection of talks on sustainability. This entire argument is grounded in a presentation given at the meeting by Rod Eggert, head of Mineral Economics at the Colorado School of Mines, though it is modified to fit the context of design instead of Mining.


Concrete Theory Introduces Itself November 22, 2009

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Hello, and welcome to the grand tour of consciousness that I have titled Concrete Theory.

The idea is to solidify my abstract thought through the medium of this blog.  Hence the oxymoron.This blog will focus on a wide variety of topics, barely outlined for your convenience in the FAQ.  To start with, I will be moving a couple of posts over from a course blog that I have written.  This blog is not course related, and is something that I intend to carry with me beyond school.

Enjoy the ride.