Applied Mechanics News

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Wikipedia and Applied Mechanics

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia founded in 2001 with a radical approach: anybody can create and edit (almost) any entry. Entirely created by volunteers, Wikipedia has come close to Britannica in terms of the accuracy of its science entries, according to a special report in Nature. The size of Wikipedia has long surpassed Britannica. Before weighing in on this news, perhaps you’d like to scan the 418 comments recorded in Slashdot.

A wiki is a type of website that enables many people to collaborate. I believe that Internet-centric content management systems like wiki will lead to a new discipline in mechanics, just as computer-centric technologies have led to the discipline of computational mechanics. I'll return to this point toward the end of the post.

To learn how Wikipedia worked, I found an existing entry on the Timoshenko Medal. The entry listed the names of past winners, but few were linked to biographies. I added one for Budiansky, drawing heavily on articles that I found online. You can wiki Budiansky now by simply typing in Google two words: wiki Budiansky. Incidentally, among teens, the word wiki is mostly used as a verb, meaning to look something up in Wikipedia. According to my sons, few kids in schools go to Britannica or any other traditional enclyclopedias anymore: they all wiki.

As another experiment, I added a biography of Hutchinson, which I converted from a pdf file downloaded from the AMD website. Wikipedia displayed the entry immediately, but then, after about half an hour, displayed a warning: “This article may violate copyright, and will be removed if no action is taken.” I took no action, and the entry soon disappeared.

The entry on Barenblatt has generated some activities. Click “history” at the top of the entry, and you will see all the authors and past versions.

When I wikied mechanics today, I found an entry started in August 2001 and last modified on 8 February 2006. In the list of sub-disciplines, I clicked solid mechanics, which led me to a short description and a wikibook on solid mechanics. When I remarked to my sons that the content of solid mechanics in Wikipedia is not as sophisticated as the article in Britannica written by Jim Rice, they were duely impressed that someone they knew wrote an article in Britannica. Such is the evanescent teenage culture.

Wikipedia, however, feeds on resources unavailable when Jim wrote his article. These resources will fundamentally change our approach to collecting, archiving and accessing information:
  • The hard drive is cheap. At about 50 cents per gigabyte, it’s absurd to be stingy about space.
  • The Internet bandwidth is cheap. It makes no sense for an individual or a library to own an encyclopedia.
  • Search engines are fast. Information explosion is no longer a threat to humanity. Anything is worth publishing if at least one other person may care about it.
  • Hyperlinks are much faster than turning pages.
  • Wikis enable people to collaborate online: creating, editing, and linking.
Technology is now available to start a wiki on mechanics (wikimechanics) to document in a useful way everything known about mechanics. I mean everything: from everyday experience to esoteric theories, and everything in between. It should also have an exhaustive collection of pictures and data, all properly hyperlinked. I also mean useful. How do we catalog everyday experience to make it useful for serious decisions? How about an open-source finite element code, with links to a materials database? What if Ashby's Materials Selector becomes an open-access, user-enriched, and ad-supported repository?

Many open-source wiki engines are available today; our wiki need not be part of Wikipedia.

The authors of the wiki could be from the entire international community of applied mechanics – professors, students, engineers, and amateurs. They would also be the users. Along the way, we'll figure out how to assign credits to individual authors in such a collaborative effort. This wiki would co-evolve with the subject of mechanics: they would influence each other.

Decades ago, when computers came into being, many mechanicians embraced the technology and created computational mechanics, a discipline that has fundamentally changed how mechanics is practiced. Today, as the new Internet-centric technologies emerge, mechanics is ready to reinvent itself again, into a form yet to be defined.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

PageRank of AMN goes up

In a previous post, I reported that AMN came at the top of the Google Search after its second week of existence. The PageRank of AMN, however,were frustratingly low: 0/10. Today the PageRank of AMN is 4/10. By comparison, here are the PageRanks of several other websites:
You can display the latest headlines of AMN, along with the headlines of New York Times, Science, Nature, Slashdot, etc., using a start page. Each headline links to a full article. No more email spams. You can glance at the headlines of sources of your own choice, whenever you like, using any computer around the world.

Whitesides on writing a scientific paper

George Whitesides wrote this handout in 1989, and then published it in Advanced Materials in 2004. It's a gem. He explains how to use writing to plan research. Although Advanced Materials does not give free access to this handout, a number of other sites do. See Google Scholar.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Journal of Mechanics of Materials and Structures – new journal launched in January 2006

Journal of Mechanics of Materials and Structures, launched in January 2006, is “revolutionary” in engineering by being published by an independent nonprofit publisher. It brings the new approach to publications in engineering, which is already practiced successfully in mathematical sciences.

The journal has as its objective the publication and wide electronic dissemination of innovative and consequential research in mechanics of materials and deformable structures of all types. Analytical, computational, and experimental results must serve to clarify physical phenomena that typically involve small or large deformation states. Methods that can be generalized to a wider class of problems are encouraged.

Drawing from all areas of engineering, materials, and biology, the mechanics of solids, materials, and structures is experiencing considerable growth in directions not anticipated a few years ago, which involve the development of new technology requiring multidisciplinary simulation. The journal stimulates this growth by emphasizing fundamental advances that are relevant in dealing with problems of all length scales. Of growing interest are the multiscale problems with an interaction between small and large scale phenomena.

The first issue of this journal, published in January 2006, has the following opening statement from the editors, Charles and Marie-Louise Steele, entitled To Our Readers and Authors:

“The new journal which you are reading, known as JoMMS to its already large circle of friends, is the fruit of a collaboration between an experienced Editorial Board, our authors and referees, and the staff of MSP, an innovative nonprofit publisher. George Herrmann serves as Senior Editorial Advisor, and the journal follows his philosophy of broad coverage and stringent peer review.

As we proudly present this first issue to the world, we can say with confidence that this publication will set a standard for technical publications in the twenty-first century and will provide a wealth of services to readers and libraries. In choosing to publish with MSP, the editorial board acknowledges that while commercial publishers have helped satisfy a need that technical societies were slow to recognize, it is now time for a change. The sole goal of MSP is to keep research publications in the hands of researchers for the benefit of the scientific community, using the full panoply of modern software and networking tools to produce high quality at an affordable price. JoMMS's features include:

  • the option of color figures without page charges;
  • free universal access after a year of publication, and right away for Volume 1;
  • convenient subscriber access by IP range;
  • indexing on major search engines and on the journal web site,;
  • support for optional nonprint material such as sound, movies, animations, source software, and embedded data behind plots and tables;
  • downloadable PDF files with full links for cross-references and bibliographical items, including frequently updated links to other publications;
  • careful typesetting, copy editing, and figure handling;
  • a license-to-publish model rather than a transfer-of-copyright model, so that authors keep control of their creation;
  • a low subscription price that will not grow faster than the number of pages and indeed may drop as the subscriber base expands.

Few journals even approach this in terms of benefits to you and the community. We hope you will submit your best work to JoMMS and encourage your library to subscribe. Please feel free to ask questions and offer suggestions and ideas.

Charles Steele
Division of Mechanics and Computation, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA


Marie-Louise Steele
Division of Mechanics and Computation, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA “

SES Conference - abstracts due on March 10, 2006

The 43rd Annual Technical Meeting of the Society of Engineering Science to be held at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, PA, USA on August 13-16, 2006. The conference web site can be found at:


This meeting will provide a forum for exchanging ideas, methods, and results and for promoting interaction among engineering scientists and researchers. All areas of engineering science and applied mechanics are of interest.

Symposium topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

* Characterization of Materials for Civil Infrastructure
* Advanced Mathematical Tools
* Integrating Mechanics and Computational Tools in Engineering Education
* Multiscale Modeling of Plastic Deformation
* Application of Discrete Element Method
* Deformation and Instability in Nanoscale Structures
* Electroactive Polymer Materials: Mechanics and Modeling
* Engineered Microfluidics Systems and Devices
* Fabric Tensors in Damage Mechanics
* Nonlinear Continuum Theory
* Instabilities in Solids and Structures
* Mechanical Behavior of Structural Films and Nanomaterials* Mechanics of Nano- and Biosystems
* Mechanics of Random Media
* Modeling and Characterization of Biological Materials and Biomaterials
* Multi-Scale Modeling and Simulation of Nano Structured Materials
* Multifunctional Materials and Structures
* Multiscale Materials Modeling
* Multiscale Modeling and Simulation of Elastic Complex Fluids
* Novel Applications of Nonlinear Homogenization
* Numerical Modeling of Damage and Irreversible Phenomena in Composite Materials
* Particle Systems Characterization and Modeling
* Pushing Mechanics to the Nanoscale Limit
* Recent Advances in Fracture and Fatigue
* Size Effects at the Micron and Submicron Length Scales in Metals
* Structural and Medical Health Monitoring with Ultrasonic Sensors
* Mechanics of Soft Materials and Soft Tissues
* Thermo-structural Mechanics and Fracture of Closed-Cell Rigid Polymeric Foam
* Tribology
* Ultrasonic Guided Wave Inspection
* Student Presentation Competition

The deadline for submission of abstracts is March 10, 2006.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

2008 International Congress of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (ICTAM)

The 22nd ICTAM will be held in Adelaide, Australia, in 24-30 August 2008. Held once every four years, these International Congresses have been organized by the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, an organization with a long history.

The ASME Applied Mechanics Division participates in a Summer Meeting every year. The principal organisers of the Summer Meetings rotate among several organizations, with a period of four years, as described below.

  • Year 4n (2008, 2012, etc.): International Committee of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics.
  • Year 4n+1 (2009, 2013, etc.): ASME Materials Division (joined with the ASME Applied Mechanics Division, The Engineering Mechanics of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and Society of Engineering Sciences).
  • Year 4n+2 (2006, 2010, etc.): US National Committee of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics.
  • Year 4n+3 (2007, 2011, etc.): The ASME Applied Mechanics Division (joined with the ASME Materials Division).

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Free access to 3 mechanical engineering handbooks

The ASME website has been improving. I have not looked into all the new stuff, but have found a particularly valuable feature. If you are a member, you can access from the members-only site three excellent handbooks:
  • Marks' Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers
  • Handbook of Materials Selection
  • Mechanical Engineer's Reference Book

Saturday, February 11, 2006

A new journal, Molecular and Cellular Biomechanics (MCB)

A new journal, Molecular and Cellular Biomechanics (MCB, formerly Mechanics and Chemistry of Biosystems), was launched in March 2004. Cell and molecular biomechanics is at the cutting edge of biomechanics and bioengineering, and is an important area of biological sciences.

The aims of this journal, the only one focusing on this subject, are to facilitate the studies of the mechanics of biomolecules including proteins and nucleic acids, and the mechanics of single cells and their interactions with extracellular matrix. The scope of the journal is broad-based, and includes the studies of mechanical behavior of single cells, cell adhesion and cytoskeletal dynamics, mechanochemical transduction, force and deformation of biomolecules, experimental methods for single-cell and molecular biomechanics studies, and multiscale computational methods for the analysis, modeling, and prediction of the mechanical behavior of cells.

The Editors-in-Chief of MCB are Gang Bao at Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, and X. Edward Guo at Columbia University. Published quarterly, this journal serves as a vehicle for rapid communication among researchers in biomechanics, documentation of new results and new methods, aiming to stimulate more activities in this exciting field. For more information on MCB please visit:

Technology Review relaunched: infotech, biotech, nanotech, and biztech

Technology Review has recently relaunched its website, and reduced the print magazine from one issue per month to one issue every other month. According to its editor, Technology Review has done what many publishers yearn to do, but dare not: it has turned its business upside down. Technology Review has been a print magazine with a website; from now on, it will be an electronic publisher that also prints a magazine.

Owned by MIT, Technological Review has been reporting emerging technologies and analyzing their likely impact since 1899. The Magazine now has four channels: infotech, biotech, nanotech, and biztech.

The newsfeed of Technology Review is
What does a newsfeed mean?

Friday, February 10, 2006

GEM4, a new international research consortium, is formed

A new international research consortium, Global Enterprise of Micro-Mechanics and Molecular Medicine (GEM4), was established on October 12, 2005 in Cambridge, MA, aiming to create a global forum for the definition and exploration of grand challenges and scientific studies, for the cross-fertilization of ideas among engineers, life scientists and medical professionals, and for the development of novel educational tools.

The current member institutions of GEM4 include: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, National University of Singapore, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Harvard University, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France, Max-Planck Society, Germany, California Institute of Technology, University of California, San Diego, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Chulabhorn Research Institute, Thailand.

GEM4 presents a new paradigm in global interactions among leading institutions to work together seamlessly across the boundaries of science, engineering, technology, medicine, and public health. With a significant focus on cell and molecular biomechanics, and environmental health, in the context of select human diseases, GEM4 will launch international research projects on infectious diseases such as malaria, metastatic invasions of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and the biomechanical origins of inflammation. GEM4 will also organize summers schools on cell and molecular biomechanics in medicine, and sponsor major international conferences on cancer research, infectious diseases, and cardiovascular disease.

The first summer school of Cell and Molecular Mechanics in BioMedicine will be held during August 7-18, 2006 in Boston, MA. For more information on GEM4 please visit

2006 NSF Summer Institute on Nano Mechanics and Materials

Co-sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineering, the NASA URETI on Biologically Inspired Materials, the NU Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center, Northwestern University, and the CSET , NSF IGERT on Virtual Tribology and AVS Science & Technology Society, NSF announces the schedule of 2006 NSF Summer Institute on Nano Mechanics and Materials.

In the summer of 2006, there will be two courses offered in NSF Summer Institute on Nano Mechanics and Materials:

1. Science Fundamentals for Nano- and Bio-Mechanics of Materials (7/31/06-8/04/06), and
2. Micro and Nano Devices with Applications to Biology and Nanoelectronics (8/7/06-8/11/06).

You can find the information on registrations and fellowship applications for 2006 NSF Summer Institute on Nano Mechanics and Materials online.

Since 2003, about 370 professors, post doctors and others have participated in the NSF Summer Institute on Nano Mechanics and Materials . This effort, funded by NSF- CMS Division, plays a key role in workforce development in an important emerging area. It provides access to specialized courses in nanotechnology not available at many universities and stimulates the development of new course materials. Designed to be accessible to students with BS degree in

(2004 NSF Summer Institute on Nano Mechanics and Materials)

engineering, the courses provide an opportunity for students and researchers at many levels to enhance their understanding of frontier areas in nanotechnology. The courses also play a key role in promoting research collaborations and providing mentoring to students. It also has a snowball effect in that faculty members who enrolled in the Summer Institute will be able to teach what they learned to their students at their own universities.
One summer 2005 session featured a course on Nanoscale Mechanics, Bio-inspired Hierarchical Structures, and Potential Applications. This short course, featuring the rapid advances in nanotechnology, nanomaterials and nanomechanics which offer huge potentials in private

(2003 NSF Summer Institute on Nano Mechanics and Materials)

industry, homeland security, and national defense, presented the concepts of bio-mimetics and bio-inspiration as a guide to future materials. An emphasis on nanoscale design of materials will make our manufacturing technologies and infrastructure more sustainable in terms of reduced energy usage and environmental pollution. In the last summer institute, there were 92 participants, including 49 professors, 4 post doctors, 31 graduate students, 7 industry members, and 1 high school teacher.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

How to subscribe newsfeeds

A start page (also known as newsreader, RSS reader, news aggregator, or newsfeed reader, etc.) can update the headlines of Applied Mechanics News on your computer, side by side with the headlines of the New York Times, etc., with each headline linked to a full article. Whenever you like, you can view all the headlines at a glance, from any computer around the world. No more email spam.

An easy, considered by some the best, start page is Netvibes. Here is the procedure to get started:
  1. Go to
  2. Click "Sing in" at the upper-right corner.
  3. Sign up with a combination of an email address and a password.
  4. Click Add Content at the upper-left corner.
  5. Click "Add my feed" at the top of the sidebar on the left.
  6. Paste into the box, and then click "add"
The newsfeed URLs of severl sister blogs of AMN are

The newsfeed URL for the Applied Mechanics Google Group is

Here are some of the best RSS feeds, including New York Times, Nature, Science, PRL, APL. Unfortunately, mechanics journals do not have RSS feeds now.

Bookmark the webpage, or simply use Netvibes as the default start page whenever you launch your browser.

Note added on 9 April 2006. 9 best online RSS readers.

Note added on 28 June 2006
. You can aggragate all Applied Mechanics Blogs into a single RSS feed. Right click RSS, and select "Copy Link Location". Paste the link into your start page.

Note added on 14 July 2006. Chris Anderson on RSS.

Note added on 27 August 2006. Netvibes secures a $15 million investment.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Nominations needed for nine Society officers

ASME's Nominating Committee will recommend nine of the Society's finest this year for leadership positions.

The offices are as follows: President (2006-2007), three members of the Board of Governors (2006-2009), and five Vice Presidents (2006-2009) for Financial Operations, Affinity Communities, Standardization and Testing, Public Awareness, and Professional Development, Practice and Ethics. read more...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Researcher Spotlight: Professor Grigory. I. Barenblatt

An article by Xanthippi Markenscoff