Applied Mechanics News

Saturday, September 09, 2006

We are migrating to iMechanica.Org

We are migrating AMN to iMechanica.Org.

In January 2006, with the encouragement of the Executive Committee of the ASME Applied Mechanics Division, several volunteers initialed Applied Mechanics News (AMN), a blog of news and views of interest to the international community of Applied Mechanics, accompanied by sister blogs covering research and researchers, conferences, and jobs. Within weeks, AMN topped the list on Google, Yahoo and MSN for the query of applied mechanics news. By late August 2006, the four sister blogs had a total of over 65,000 page loads, and on average over hundred unique visitors every day, from all over the world.

The Internet has enabled AMN to be international and inter-organizational. The news can be updated continuously by many volunteers. Some of the initial thoughts of AMN was collected in the entry Applied Mechanics in the Age of Web 2.0.

AMN is hosted by a free service, Blogger. The service is easy to get started, but does not serve our needs well. For example, people cannot become contributors by themselves, and Blogger offers no tagging. The contributors cannot upload files, and the resolution for images is low. The software is proprietary and allows limited customization. Also, Blogger is not accessible in China, a country that has perhaps more mechanicians than the US and Europe combined. The platform of Blogger has severely restricted the growth of AMN. The experience of AMN has taught us in our adolescent months, but we have grown.

We will migrate AMN to iMechanica.Org, a far more effective many-to-many communication platform, with the following initial features:
  • Without signing in, everyone can read every entry.
  • Everyone can sign in.
  • Upon signing in, each user has a blog.
  • Moderators may promote new entries to the front page of iMechanica.
  • A user can subscribe to the RSS feeds of the front page, individual blogs, individual tags, and more sophisticated combinations.
These and other features can be customized. We will experiment with various options of moderation. While iMechanica will never replace conferences, it will enable people who do not go to the same conferences to communicate with each other. In particular, we will make a special effort to bring industrial practitioners and students into this online community.

The initial features are adopted with particular emphasis on ease of use. If you know how to send an email, you know how to post a blog entry. So why not leran more about iMechanica, and join us today in this exploration of the brave new world of the Internet.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Plan activities of the Applied Mechanics Division at 2007 ASME Congress

The ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (IMECE) will be held in 11-16 November 2007, in Seattle, Washington. As the 2007 Program Chair of the Applied Mechanics Division (AMD), I hope to get you involved in planning activities at the Congress.

IMECE is a place where you can meet people and attend talks in Applied Mechanics, as well as in other fields, such as Materials, Electronic Packaging, Tribology, and Heat Transfer. For many mechanicians, a highlight of the Congress is the Applied Mechanics Annual Dinner, where old acquaintances are resumed, new friends made, awards announced, and the Timoshenko lectures delivered.

Also, as many of you have discovered, the Congress provides a venue for people to get involved in the profession by organizing activities.

What can you do to help planning the 2007 Congress? The year 2007 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Timoshenko medal. You may want to nominate an outstanding mechanician for this and several other awards. The deadline for nomination is 1 October 2006. The AMD Executive Committee, in conjunction with the Committees for the individual awards, will select the finalists at the 2006 ASME Congress on Thursday, 9 November 2006, in Chicago.

You may also help organizing technical sessions. Each session is 90 minute long, and has about four speakers. Related sessions may form a symposium. Before you go about organizing sessions for the 2007 Congress, you may want to look at the program of the 2006 Congress.

All technical sessions at the ASME Congress are organized by volunteers--educators, practitioners and researchers like you. If you are thinking of organizing a symposium for the 2007 Congress, ask yourself a few questions:
  • What is the title or theme of your symposium?
  • Does the theme open a new area of research, or fill a long-felt need?
  • Who will be potential speakers?
  • How many sessions would you like to request?
Once you have answered these questions, you should contact the chair of one of the 17 Technical Committees in AMD. At the Chicago Congress, most Technical Committees will hold open meetings. The Executive Committee will hold a general meeting on Friday, 10 November 2006, 10 am-12pm. These meetings are open to all. A major item at these open meetings will be the planning for the 2007 Congress. If you would like to organize a symposium for the 2007 Congress, please contact the chair of a technical committee before November 2006, and try to attend the open meetings.

What else can you do now? Mark the dates 11-16 November 2007 in your calendar, and plan to spend the days in Seattle. Of course, you are always welcome to contact me to talk about Applied Mechanics at the 2007 Congress. If you have any suggestions, please leave comments below. To help us advertise, please e-mail this message to your friends.

Thank you.

Zhigang Suo

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

MS Office killers: productivity software in the age of collaboration

Office contributed $11 billion in revenue in 2005, accounting for 30 percent of Microsoft revenues—and about 60 percent of profits.

But over the years stuff happened. The Internet, intranets, and email transformed workflows. Globalization and outsourcing dispersed people to satellite offices and partner companies. Collaboration tools became critical.

More on these changes in an article in Red Herring on web-based word processors, spreadsheets, and presentation software, and a report in Information Week on the launch of Google Apps.

Update added on 2 September 2006.
Anil Dash argues that Google Apps do not compete with MS Office.
Donna Bogatin's rebuttle.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Get Wiki With It - Wired Magazine

Getting published in the illustrious British scientific journal Nature is, frankly, a bitch. It's not just the years you spend designing the perfect experiment, or the hustling for grant money to collect the data. It's not even the long nights of trying to figure out how to express all that work elegantly in the cold language of scientific communication. No – the real trick is getting the editors at Nature to like it. Read more of this article in Wired.

Related websites:

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Registration for the 2006 ASME Congress

The deadline for early registration is 25 August 2006. Early registration will save you $50.

If you are a presenting author, ASME now requires that you register before 25 August 2006. Otherwise, the paper will not be included in the final program.

To register as a presenting author, you will need to find the paper number of your presentation in the technical program, and then register on this site.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Malcom Gladwell on The Case of Geothermal

Using an RSS reader, netvibes, I subscribe to blogs of a few writers. Whenever one of them posts an entry, its title appears in my RSS reader. I can read the entry when I have time.

Here is an entry by Malcom Gladwell on The Case of Geothermal. I’m no energy expert, and cannot evaluate various points that he made. Gladwell himself is no expert, either. But the comments of his readers give me a better appreciation of issues.

Wouldn’t it be nice if papers in Applied Mechanics be discussed this way?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

GEM4 Summer School "Cell and Molecular Mechanics in BioMedicine"

Tomorrow is the last day of GEM4 summer school on "Cell and Molecular Mechanics in BioMedicine", held at MIT. From what I have seen, it is a great success. There are approximately 50 students from all over the world attending the 2-week course. It is quite intense, starting everyday at 8:30AM and ending 5PM, including three afternoon lab sessions.

The course notes are posted at:

Next year the summer school will be held in Singapore.

NSF Dear Colleague Letter: Supplements to NSF Centers

From Ken Chong, National Science Foundation:

The Dear Colleague Letter for NSF-SIA/NRI Graduate students and Postdoctoral Fellow Supplements to NSF Centers in Nanoelectronics (NSF06-051) has been released. Supplement requests are due November 17, 2006.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A symposium to celebrate the 60th birthday of Alan Needleman and Viggo Tvergaard

16-18 August 2006, Providence, RI

Gordon Conference on Thin Films and Small Scale Mechanical Behavior

The Gordon conference on “Thin Films and Small Scale Mechanical Behavior”, which started on July 30, concluded less than two weeks ago on the 4th of August. You can find the lists of talks and posters online. It was quite an event and since there may be many in our community who may not be familiar with the Gordon conferences, I though I should post a brief news item on it. I hope other attendees can add a few tid-bits of their own as well.

By design, Gordon conferences are by invitation only, consisting of a mixture of senior and junior researchers. This series of conferences started in 1931 and it seems that one is held on all conceivable scientific subjects (e.g. superconductivity, tribology, reproductive tract biology; see the complete list: The conference chair decides on the invitees. A few of the conference invitees are selected by the Chair to give lectures that are intended to be partly tutorial, partly reporting on cutting edge research and (hopefully) thought-provoking. Typically there are 2-3 lectures in the morning (each roughly an hour long along with substantial time devoted to discussions). The afternoons are kept free for networking and social activities such as hiking, canoeing among others. After dinner, there are additional 2-3 presentations. To keep the cost low and foster communication, the participants all live together in a dormitory where they also share their meals. The attendee cost of the GRC last week stood at $725 including lodging, registration, and meals---not to mention lots of beer served during the pre and postprandial poster sessions!

In the conference held last week more than 170 people attended including a sizable fraction being students. It is worth mentioning that about 40 students received travel fellowships provided by the National Science Foundation. The Conference also received financial support from the Gordon Research Foundation, Intel Corporation, Sandia National Laboratories, National University of Singapore, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation.

This was my first GRC and left quite pleased with my visit (notwithstanding the heat wave hitting the east coast at the time of the conference). In particular, I thought, the poster sessions and the informal technical discussions were the major highlights. The attending students formed a very dynamic crowd and, in my short career, I have yet to see such a spirited interaction among senior and junior researchers. Over 110 posters were presented at this conference and six student prices were announced for the best ones. In my opinion, the Gordon conference (and mechanics specific Thin Air Philosophical Society series organized by Demitris Kouris) much better provide (compared to some of the “canned” society conferences) the true spirit of a scientific gathering i.e. unhurried, detailed scientific debate and discussion.

The chair and vice-chair for the next GRC-Thin Films and Small Scale Mechanical Behavior are Richard Vinci (Lehigh University) and Oliver Kraft (Institute for Materials Research, Karlsruhe), respectively.

Active Nanostructures and Nanosystems

From Ken Chong, National Science Foundation.

The FY 2007 solicitation "Active Nanostructures and Nanosystems" has been published (NSF 06-595, ANN) . The proposal submission deadline is November 15, 2006.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Wealth of Networks

For the past 10 days, I've been traveling in China. I brought with me a single book, The Wealth of Networks, by Yochai Benkler. The book is a careful analysis of peer production, and is closely related to various discussions in Applied Mechanics News on the future of scholarly publishing. You can read a synopsis, look at a wiki, or download the full text of the book.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Mechanics of Biological and Biomimetic Materials at Small Length-Scales

A special focus issue on small-scale biomechanics has just been published as the August, 2006 issue (Volume 21, No. 8) of the Journal of Materials Reseach. The issue contains three invited review papers:

"Mechanical response of human red blood cells in health and disease: Some structure-property-function relationships" by S. Suresh

"Fracture, aging, and disease in bone" by J.W. Ager, G. Balooch, R.O. Ritchie

"Nanoindentation: Application to dental hard tissue investigations" by L. Angker, M.V. Swain

The issue also contains a wide variety of contributed articles examing a wide range of materials and using a broad range of experimental and modeling techniques. Guest editors for the issue were Andy Bushby, Adrian Mann, Christine Ortiz and Michelle Oyen.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Gordon Research Conference on Thin Film and Small Scale Mechanical Behavior

About 170 of us are meeting this week in Colby College, in Maine. Participants will describe the Conference in some detail. For now, let me report that we have elected the chairs for the next two Conferences:

2008 Conference Chair: Rick Vinci
2010 Conference Chair: Oliver Kraft (, Institute for Materials Research, Karlsruhe)

Time and place of the Conferences have not been set. Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Why should CEOs blog? - New York Times

A previous entry in Applied Mechanics News, entitled Applied Mechanics in the Age of Web 2.0, talked about why we mechanicians should blog. A New York Times article today talks about why CEOs should blog also.