How to Get Engineering Without an Engineer

first_imgThe study of complex systems is all the rage these days (see, for example, 08/18/2003 entry).  In the Jan. 28 issue of Nature,1 J. M. Ottino (Northwestern University) mixes up biology with human design in his Concepts essay on “Engineering complex systems.”    “Complex systems,” he explains, “can be identified by what they do (display organization without a central organizing authority – emergence), and also by how they may or may not be analysed (as decomposing the system and analysing sub-parts do not necessarily give a clue as to the behaviour of the whole).”  In the list of examples he provides, the juxtaposition of human-engineered and biological systems is so subtle as to mask the differences: “Systems that fall within the scope of complex systems include metabolic pathways, ecosystems, the web [e.g., the internet world-wide-web], the US power grid and the propagation of HIV infections.”  He does clarify, however, that “Many examples of complex networks that have greatly impacted our lives – such as highways, electrification and the Internet – derive from engineering.”  Presumably, some do not.  He draws additional contrasts:The hallmarks of complex systems are adaptation, self-organization and emergence – no one designed the web or the metabolic processes within a cell.  And this is where the conceptual conflict with engineering arises.  Engineering is not about letting systems be.  Engineering is about making things happen, about convergence, optimum design and consistency of operation.  Engineering is about assembling pieces that work in specific ways – that is, designing complicated systems.Ottino explains that complex and complicated are not one and the same.  Complicated is more like the intelligent design terminology of “irreducibly complex”.  In the tradition of Paley, his illustration is a watch with over 1000 parts working together.  Then he explains,The pieces in complicated systems can be well understood in isolation, and the whole can be reassembled from its parts.  The components work in unison to accomplish a function.  One key defect can bring the entire system to a halt; complicated systems do not adapt.  Redundancy needs to be built in when system failure is not an option.Complex systems, on the other hand, do adapt, he claims: the hallmarks are adaptation (ability to change to match changing conditions), self-organization (ability to arrange parts unassisted), and emergence (new properties come to light which were not necessarily predicted, but represent a whole greater than the sum of the parts).  The Web, for instance, has taken on a life of its own that exceeds what its original designers expected.  Engineering went into the design of the parts, but not the whole: “But although engineers may have developed the components, they did not plan their connection.”  Is there a place for engineering in the ongoing adaptation of a complex system?How can engineers, who have developed many of the most important complex systems, stay connected with their subsequent development?  Complexity and engineering seem at odds – complex systems are about adaptation, whereas engineering is about purpose.  However, it is robustness and failure where both camps merge.By this, he means that engineers can design robustness into a complex system by designing redundancy and performing risk analysis at the outset, or as the system grows.  Engineers might also be able to leverage self-organization: by steering the properties of molecular subunits, for example, in the rapidly expanding field of nanotechnology.  Still, these examples all involve intelligent foresight.  What about the adaptation in living things?    Ottino barely touches on biological complex systems, but thinks the environment can optimize adaptation (this is known in the literature as “niche construction”):But the choice need not be just between designing everything at the outset and letting systems design themselves.  Most design processes are far from linear, with multiple decision points and ideas ‘evolving’ before the final design ‘emerges’.  However, once finished, the design itself does not adapt.  Here, engineers are beginning to get insight from biology.  The emergence of function – the ability of a system to perform a task – can be guided by its environment, without imposing a rigid blueprint.  For example, just like the beaks of Darwin’s finches, a finite-element analysis of a component shape such as an airfoil can evolve plastically through a continuum of possibilities under a set of constraints, so as to optimize the shape for a given function.Ottino does not elaborate, but presumably he feels that natural selection chooses the optimum design from the continuum of possibilities.    The essay ends with these vague suggestions, because no laws of self-organization are known, most of the discoveries are in future tense:Despite significant recent advances in our understanding of complex systems, the field is still in flux, and there is still is a lack of consensus as to where the centre is – for some, it is exclusively cellular automata; for others it is networks.  However, the landscape is bubbling with activity, and now is the time to get involved.  Engineering should be at the centre of these developments, and contribute to the development of new theory and tools.1J.M. Ottino, “Engineering complex systems,” Nature 427, 399 (29 January 2004); doi:10.1038/427399a.“No one designed the … metabolic processes within a cell.”  Interesting.  Could you elaborate, Dr. Ottino?  Tell us how you know this.    There is a fundamental disconnect in Ottino’s logic.  His comparison of biological with artificial complex systems is largely an argument from analogy built on a priori assumptions that Darwinism is true.  In keeping with the perennial sin of Darwinists, he merely assumes biological complex systems “emerged” (they just love that word) without engineering, and then both categories of systems continue to evolve and adapt without engineering.  But even in his examples of artificial complex systems lacking a central authority – the web and the power grid – intelligent design continues to be essential. For instance, the original designers of the internet protocol or small power plants may not have foreseen the ways their networks would grow, and what new emergent properties might arise, but at every step of the “evolution” of the complex systems human engineers are and were involved.  Left to itself, without the input of human intelligence, the power grid would have collapsed with the first solar storm or substation fire.  Human engineers had to fix the problems and retrofit robustness into it.  Similarly, WWW designers probably did not foresee the evils of viruses and spam (sinister examples of intelligent design), but a host of new engineers have responded with anti-virus software and alert mechanisms to help the network adapt.  How much more are all the beneficial emergent functions of the web, such as videoconferencing, web shopping and auctions, guided by human ingenuity?The adaptation in man-made complex systems has always been guided by intelligent design.  The more the robustness and resiliency, the greater the intelligence, and the more praiseworthy the design.    In biological complex systems (e.g., metabolic pathways, protein networks, gene regulation) how could resiliency and adaptation exist without prior engineering design?  Ottino cannot just wave the usual magic wand of natural selection.  He needs to do a rigorous analysis.  What mutations in what specific genes could have converged into a wing or a beak where one never existed before?  Without scientific rigor, it is not science; it is just-so storytelling filled with glittering generalities.    He described beautifully the concept of irreducible complexity in “complicated” systems, but failed to recognize that such systems exist now, fully-formed, in the simplest one-celled organisms.  He cannot invoke self-organizational principles, because he admitted there are no known laws of self-organization.  He cannot commit the post hoc fallacy by claiming, “they exist, therefore they evolved” by natural selection (though he comes just shy of stating this).  And he did not connect the dots with niche construction.  If it were possible for the environment to constrain adaptation, how, or why, would a living organism (e.g., a Darwin finch) care to evolve toward an optimum design?  That would commit the foul of teleology.    So what remains?  Miracles.  Ottino speaks of “emergence” as a characteristic of complex systems, and glibly assumes that the emergence of new perfectly-adapted functions in living systems will just happen.  No, it won’t.  Appealing to unknown laws in future tense is not science, and does not belong in a scientific journal.  Everything we know points away from the emergence of optimum adaptability unless engineering design is involved.  Think about it: why would a finch evolve a wing or a beak with its perfectly-adapted airfoil design, unless it really was designed by a Designer that understood aerodynamics?  The environment is not going to teach the bird, and the bird couldn’t care less.  Purge your mind of teleology, purge it of orthogenesis (straight-line evolution toward a goal), purge it of wish fulfillment, as a consistent naturalist should do, and it doesn’t make sense.  Darwinism survives only with a schizophrenia we might term “naturalistic vitalism,” which assumes our material universe contains some unexplained, unknown, vital force that makes a finch want to fly.  The resulting perfect airfoil doesn’t need a scientific explanation.  It just “emerges.”  Welcome to the mythology of modern science, where miracles, while overtly denied, covertly come in very handy.(Visited 16 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Everything You Need to Know About Stabilizing a Shot

first_imgFrom capturing the image in camera to sitting down in front of your computer, here are all the ways you can fix (or work with) shaky footage.Top image via Zach Ramelan.I have a love/hate relationship with shaky footage. On one hand, the aesthetic can add realism while grounding your project, giving it a documentary feel. But on the other hand, it’s easy to write off shaky footage as amateur or low-quality. It’s all about what look you’re going for.However, sometimes you absolutely have to get rid of the shake, especially if you’re shooting for a client. Even if you don’t have a super-nice gimbal or a Steadicam, you can pull off sweeping, cinematic smoothness with a few of these tips and tricks before you hit record.How to Plan AheadSo before you actually start capturing your footage, if you know you’ll be using Warp Stabilizer in post, there are a few different things you can do to increase your odds of success. One is to shoot at a high shutter speed. This will reduce motion blur, making everything a bit crisper and making Warp Stabilizer’s job a lot easier.Some practical tricks to try with your gear include using your tripod as a Steadicam. The weight of the legs will counterbalance the camera and tripod head to smooth your tracking shot.Also, you could shoot in 4K (if possible) because Warp Stabilizer will crop the footage, so you’ll be able to get your full 1080p after the fact.Another way you can help your future self is to shoot with a wider lens. This brings us to our next video, which explains why shooting movement with a wider lens is a must.Choosing the Right LensesSo a rule of thumb is that if you’re going to move the camera around (necessitating Warp Stabilizer later), then you really want to shoot with a wider lens. Not only will you get more in the shot, but you also won’t have the condensed background you’d get with a longer lens — and there’s more in your frame. This means movements aren’t as big, which can make the shot disorienting for your audience.In the video above, Zach Ramelan suggests using a wide zoom lens, which gives you a little more freedom to find the right focal length for your gimbal shot. But most of these gimbal shots are going to be for B-roll, or they’ll be cinematic in nature, so it’s okay to use up to a 50mm. Anything more, and you’ll have to be careful with the steadiness and how much you move the gimbal.However, gimbals aren’t the only tools you can use to steady your camera.Building the SolutionThe solution to all your problems is here! Not really, but who doesn’t love a good, old-fashioned dolly? For this particular build (there are many other variations of this rig), all you need is a piece of wood wide and thick enough to support your tripod. Throw in some PVC pipes, skateboard wheels, 4 L-brackets, and some hex bolts, and you’ll be rolling smoothly in no time.Even after using a rig like this, I still throw on Warp Stabilizer because there will inevitably be some minor shakes in your final shot, and the Stabilizer does a good job of smoothing it all out.Once You Make It to PostSo when it comes to using Warp Stabilizer in Premiere Pro, the hows and whats are pretty simple. You simply drag the effect over to your clip on the timeline and let the effect analyze it. The effect will take some time. But as you can see, if you’ve followed some of the tips from the videos above, the end result will look pretty satisfying. You won’t be able to include the shot if it’s a super long “oner”-style take, but there’s no denying that the effect works wonders under the right circumstances.Looking for more filmmaking tips and tricks? Check out these articles.Tips for Selling Your Cameras and Video Gear Online5 Production Tips for High Frame Rate VideographyThe 5 Top Editing Gadgets on the Market Right NowHow to Design a Close-Up Shot — And When You Should Use ItStrike the Right Balance: Choosing Music for Tutorial Videoslast_img read more

IOA felicitates Olympic medallists as they meet PM, Sonia

first_imgIndia’s London Olympic medallists met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence in the national capital on Friday. The medallists – wrestler Sushil Kumar, shooter Vijay Kumar (both silver medallists), boxer M.C. Mary Kom, shuttler Saina Nehwal, wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt and shooter Gagan Narang (bronze medallists) – also met United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her residence. Both, the prime minister and the UPA chairperson congratulated the super six Olympians for doing the nation proud at the sports’ biggest carnival. The prime ministers meeting with the medallists was a brief one when he returned home after attending a stormy session in Parliament. The medal winners were also accompanied by other members of the Indian Olympic contingent, including some archers, hockey players and team officials. Later in the day, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) also felicitated the medallists and conferred cash award of Rs 15 lakh each to silver medallists and Rs 10 lakh each to the bronze medallists. Earlier, saluting the medal winning heroics of the Olympic medallists, the Union sports ministry had on Thursday organised a gala ceremony in the city to hand them out their victory cheques. Sports Minister Ajay Maken had handed cheques of Rs 30 lakh each to the silver medallists Rs 20 lakh each to the bronze medallists.last_img read more