What I Learned This Week 11/7/2021

(Made with Canva)

Hi friends, hope we’re all keeping well.

This post will simply just be me going over some of the things that I learned about in the past week, which I thought was either interesting, entertaining, or thought provoking (pffft).

I might or might not make this a regular series, but I thought it would be cool to try something new (again), and see what happens. I suppose it’ll also depend on how I’m feeling on the days I write, I don’t really know🤷🏻‍♂️

Cool, let’s get straight into it then.

🦅1. Biomimicry🦅

This is essentially designing things and structures, but with innovation and inspiration taken from the natural world, i.e making things/solving problems with ideas and help from the natural world.

Apparently, one of the first examples of biomimicry (sick name, by the way) started when some local Japanese residents kept complaining about the recently developed, lightning fast ‘Shinkansen’, or bullet train, being too loud and disturbing as it passed by. A team of engineers, mechanics, and scientists were then called up to honour these complaints, and improve the Shinkansen.

Unbeknownst to the group, however, was that they had a secret weapon in their ranks; a polite, birdwatching engineer by the name of Eiji Nakatsu.

Nakatsu proposed many different components and improvements to the train, that had been inspired from the shape and parts of several different birds.

-The train’s pantograph (which is this thing)

(A train’s pantograph)

was inspired by the feathers of an owl.

Photo credit: https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/owl-spread-wings.html

-The smooth, round belly of the penguin gave birth to the idea of the pantograph having much lower air resistance.

Photo credit: https://photolibrary.usap.gov/PhotoDetails.aspx?filename=emperor-penguin-stomach.jpg

-And finally, the shape of the Kingfisher bird’s beak gave inspiration for the shape of the Shinkansen’s locomotive, ultimately helping make it quieter.

Photo Credit: Gareth Whiston/Alamy

All these ideas helped improve the Shinkansen in one form or another, and much of this innovation was inspired by structures from nature. This is a classic example of biomimicry, where you can solve complex human problems by mimicking natural structures, systems, and forms.

So, I suppose next time you’re facing some kind of design/engineering problem, it may help to consult a biologist 🙃

🚪2. Designs of Bad Doors🚪

Ever accidentally pulled a ‘push’ door? Or the opposite, where you accidentally pushed a ‘pull’ door? Of course you did. We’re humans after all, and so it must be because we’re just stupid and didn’t realise, and it’s our fault, right?

Apparently not though.

So, there’s these kinds of doors called Norman doors, which are doors whose designs tell you to do the exact opposite of what you’re meant to do. Essentially, they’re horribly designed doors that are flawed in how they work, gives you bad instructions on how to use them, and I’m sure you’ve encountered many in your day to day life before.

Basically, you shouldn’t really blame yourself if you accidentally did the wrong action to open a door. It’s instead better to blame it on the design of the door, rather than yourself.

This is because it failed to follow the design principle of discoverability (which I believe to be coined by researcher Don Norman). Norman described something having good discoverability as “it is possible to determine what actions are possible and the current state of the device”. If the design lacks discoverability, we must then work harder to understand how something works, which is probably undesirable.

Many doors also fail to give good feedback, which is another principle of design. Norman describes feedback as “some way of letting you know that the system is working in your request”. This feedback should also be immediate, informative, and clear. For example, we immediately know something’s wrong if an error message pops up on our computer.

So, who knew designs of bad doors were actually everywhere? This was definitely an interesting topic, to say the least, and helped introduce me to the fascinating world of design.

🇫🇷3. It’s Illegal to Take Photos of the Eiffel Tower at Night🇫🇷

This one surprised me, definitely, but was interesting as well.

Apparently, this is because of some (seemingly) obscure copyright laws. Thus, because the structure of the Eiffel Tower itself isn’t copyrighted and is free public domain, you are free to take pictures of the tower during the day.

What isn’t free public domain though, are the lights of the Eiffel Tower. Since the lights are inevitably lit up and visible in photos of the Eiffel Tower at night, you technically aren’t allowed to take pictures of it then, since that would be breaching copyright law! Weird, huh?

♟4. The Chess Concept of Transposition

In my journey to becoming a titled player, I of course also try to study various different chess concepts, as that will of course help me improve.

Transpositions are basically ways you can reach a certain position on the board. It is also important to understand the common plans and strategies of the most commonly used openings, recognising how transpositions can occur, and how to deal with them.

Not the most exciting concept to understand, but annoyingly quite crucial to🙁.

🇯🇵5. The Different Ways of saying ‘and’ in Japanese 🇯🇵

So, there’s apparently also different ways of saying ‘and’ in Japanese, for a) nouns and pronouns (e.g salt and pepper), b) adjectives (e.g. hot and warm), and c) verbs (e.g. eat and sleep). The grammar can get quite complex, so I won’t be diving into it at all with this blog post 😅

Ugh, and I thought German was bad with the 16 ways of saying ‘the’😭

🧠Random Trivia🧠

-‘Turophiles’ are used to describe cheese lovers

-‘A ‘grawlix’ is what you call the list of random symbols in place of a swear word (e.g $£%#\$!), which you usually see in comic books or something like that.

And yeah, that’ll probably do it for this blog post. Damn, I didn’t expect that much work and research to be done, not how tiring it would actually be😅

I think it’s fine to simply list off the things I learned, but I can’t help but add explanations for them as well haha.

Meh, let me know anyway if you want to continue seeing this kind of post, since I’m not sure about it yet.

Cool, so see you guys, and stay safe👋🏼



Bad Door Designs

Eiffel Tower Photos at Night

Design Principles


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