Andrew Pollack's Blog

Technology, Family, Entertainment, Politics, and Random Noise

SmashLab == Cool Technology, Juvenile Implementations

By Andrew Pollack on 02/26/2008 at 09:39 PM EST

I've been watching Discovery's new series "SmashLab". I've watched enough now to give it an official Geek Review. The concept is simple enough. Take some gifted people with complimentary backgrounds, give them some new technology and a safety problem to solve with it, and see what they can prototype to try out the idea. Now, lets break down how the show stacks up:

1. The Technology. Extremely Cool. In the shows I've watched they've used Aerated Concrete in an attempt to show down runaway cars, a kind of resin to keep concrete from cracking in a bomb blast, Aerogel & carbon fiber to fireproof a house, and magnets with aluminium to create a self-braking vertical escape system. In each case, the tech was awesome. The aerated concrete was entirely new to me. The resin material was cool but a little obvious. I'd heard of Aerogel but to see it in use was amazing. Finally, the use of rare earth magnets interacting with aluminium as a controlled braking system was not an engineering principle I'd ever heard of. I knew coasters used magnetic brakes, but I assumed it was some kind of complex electromagnetic switching system. It isn't. It's entirely solid state with no electricity involved. Other than a material failure, it is foolproof.

2. The Problems. These seem contrived to me. The problem and technology are already chosen at the start of the show, and it strikes me as overly convenient and a bit contrived. It almost seems as though there is a business model being tested by putting it on the show. Sadly, the designs themselves pretty much prove there isn't -- at least not a serious one.

3. The Designs. This is where the show falls apart. These young, bright, excited people seem to have no concept of the real world at all. They come up with designs which are barely valid tests of the technology but in such poorly thought through was you never get a feel for what could really be done. Further, the things they try are for the most part ultimately unworkable as products. In many cases, the design flaws are so obvious as to be painful. Even worse, the flaws don't need to be there. There are usually known solutions already in the market place for dealing with them.

So overall -- it's worth watching, but a shame they don't take the implementation more seriously.


There are  - loading -  comments....

re: SmashLab == Cool Technology, Juvenile ImplementationsBy Carl Tyler on 02/26/2008 at 11:16 PM EST
That show drives me up the wall. Some of their solutions are so weak, and then
they try and make out that their obvious failures worked.

Plus the show is really only 10 minutes long with 20 minutes of ads, and 30
minutes replaying what they showed us before the ads.

Seriously, a big blanket to put over a house in a fire?

OK you hit my button, I can't believe I watch that show cos it irritates me so
much.
re: SmashLab == Cool Technology, Juvenile ImplementationsBy Kerr on 02/27/2008 at 07:07 AM EST
Plus the show is really only 10 minutes long with 20 minutes of ads, and 30
minutes replaying what they showed us before the ads.

The number one thing that irritates me about non drama programmes is the
constant:

Coming up soon, actual bit, recap of previous bit.

Just get on with it! Aargh. I know a little bit of this helps with the
overall feel and progression of a show, but the level it's got to now is
ridiculous. Even the BBC are doing it, and there aren't even any adverts.
Maybe they plan advert slots for when it's sold on to the international market?
re: SmashLab == Cool Technology, Juvenile ImplementationsBy Mary Beth Raven on 02/27/2008 at 09:17 PM EST
Funny you mention this... we just got cable a month ago (um, the husband got
it while I was at lotusphere!!)anyway, my kids -- 2 GIRLS-- have a new TV
standard.
It's "if it doesn't have an explosion, it's not worth watching".

So, clearly smashlab is on their list (they like myth busters, too.) I
personally think that Dad exerted undue testosterone influence while I was at
Lotusphere...


Other Recent Stories...

  1. 05/05/2016Is the growing social-sourced economy the modern back door into socialism?Is the growing social-sourced economy the modern back door into socialism? I read a really insightful post a couple of days ago that suggested the use of social network funding sites like “Go Fund Me” and “Kickstarter” have come about and gained popularity in part because the existing economy in no longer serving its purpose for anyone who isn’t already wealthy. Have the traditional ways to get new ventures funded become closed to all but a few who aren’t already connected to them and so onerous as to make ...... 
  2. 04/20/2016Want to be whitelisted? Here are some sensible rules for web site advertisingAn increasing number of websites are now detecting when users have ad-blocking enabled, and refuse to show content unless you "whitelist" their site (disable your ad-blocking for them). I think that is a fair decision on their part, it's how they pay for the site. However, if you want me (and many others) to white list your site, there are some rules you should follow. If you violate these rules, I won't whitelist your site, I'll just find content elsewhere. 1. The total space taken up by advertisements ...... 
  3. 12/30/2015Fantastic new series on Syfy called “The Expanse” – for people who love traditional science fiction[] “The Expanse” is a new science fiction series being broadcast onthe Syfy channelthis winter. It’s closely based on a series of books by author James S. A. Corey beginning with “Leviathan Wakes”. There are 5 books in the “Expanse” series so far. If you’re a fan of the novels you’ll appreciate how closely the books are followed.TIP: The first five episodes are already available on Syfy.com. If you’re having trouble getting into the characters and plot, use those to get up to speed.The worlds created for ...... 
  4. 10/20/2015My suggestion is to stay away from PayAnywhere(dot)com  
  5. 08/07/2015Here is one for you VMWARE gurus - particularly if you run ESXi without fancy drive arrays 
  6. 08/06/2015The Killer of Orphans (Orphan Documents) 
  7. 06/02/2015Homeopathic Marketing: Traveler on my Android is now calling itself VERSE. Allow me to translate that for the IBM Notes community... 
  8. 03/17/2015A review of British Airways Premium Economy Service – How to destroy customer goodwill all at once 
  9. 02/26/2015There's a bug in how @TextToTime() and @ToTime() process date strings related to international standards and browser settings. 
  10. 01/21/2015Delivering two new presentations at Developer Camp (EntwicklerCamp) 2015 in Germany 
Click here for more articles.....


pen icon Comment Entry
Subject
Your Name
Homepage
*Your Email
* Your email address is required, but not displayed.
 
Your thoughts....
 
Remember Me  

Please wait while your document is saved.