Julia L F Goldstein

How Are You Changing the World?

What Makes Clothing Smart?

Oct 21, 2015 by Julia L F Goldstein
I'm researching smart textiles for a client, and one of the first questions is how to define smart textiles. Everything these days seems to be claiming intelligence - our phones, our cars, our watches. I found this amusing definition: "They [smart textiles] can be described as textiles that think and respond to a situation." Wow. And I suppose the category of "ultra-smart textiles" covers those with an IQ over 130. That must be really humbling for some people, realizing that their shirt is smarter than they are. Seriously, though, we're talking for the most part about textiles with embedded conductive threads and integrated sensors. The "intelligent" part of the system, which collects the data and transmits them to a computer, is usually enclosed in a...

Pianos in the Parks

Aug 05, 2015 by Julia L F Goldstein
An unusual art exhibit is on display in parks throughout the greater Seattle area, and I am endeavoring to experience as much of it as I can. This is both an artistic and a musical journey, and I carry with me the sheet music to the Grieg Nocturne and Beethoven’s Fur Elise. The Grieg has special significance to me. When my parents sold their home in 2001, they gave the grand piano and most of the piano music to my sister, the professional musician in the family. I kept the Grieg Nocturne with the inscription “Happy Birthday” and the date. My piano teacher had given it to me for my 14th birthday. In 2003, when I decided to buy a piano...

The furniture finally arrives

Jun 30, 2015 by Julia L F Goldstein
If you follow this blog you may remember that months ago I talked about remodeling my laundry room and getting a standing desk. In June I finally closed on both of those. I'm not sure how the standing desk movement will develop. Is it just a fad or will standing desks take over offices everywhere? Research showing that just moving around for two minutes each hour counteracts "sitting disease" may slow down interest. But as for me, I like my standing desk. After months of standing at my kitchen counter, I've gotten used to standing to work. It's becoming a habit - when I sit too long anywhere I feel the need to get up and move.Here's the desk I chose, the...

Printing Light

Jun 17, 2015 by Julia L F Goldstein
Several years ago I was asked to write a column on printed LEDs. At the time, I couldn't find any good leads and ended up writing about a different topic. Well, perhaps now is the time. Startup Rohinni definitely has the "wow" factor going for it, with its claim to be able to print lighting and apply it to any surface. The technology uses an ink infused with microscopic LED particles. (Sounds like quantum dots to me). It is printed on a conductive surface, combine with some additional polymer layers, and then sealed. Simply apply a current to this "lightpaper" and it lights up.This sounds too good to be true, and perhaps it is. Apparently Rohinni still needs to overcome some...

Zentangle, Part 2

Apr 12, 2015 by Julia L F Goldstein
Once my curiosity was piqued (see March 18 post), I had to try Zentangle for myself. So I met with a local Certified Zentangle Teacher at a nearby Starbucks.* She explained to me how Zentangle is about the process, not the product, and why quality materials matter (more on that later). Then she talked me through the process of making my very first Zentangle. Starbucks is a quintessential Seattle place to meet, but isn't exactly conducive to a state of Zen. Now, I have been known to get so involved in my work while writing and enjoying a latte that I am unaware that the folks nearby, whose conversation seemed so distracting, left an hour ago.  Still, Starbucks isn't an ideal atmosphere,...

X-rays and Toothpaste

Mar 24, 2015 by Julia L F Goldstein
My new dentist (let's call him Dr. X) is a very smart man. I asked him why his office had not migrated from film to digital X-rays, and I was impressed with the thoroughness of his research on the topic. He seriously considered buying digital equipment when he moved to a new office several years ago, but decided against it for several reasons:1. Digital plates have poorer resolution than films, making it more difficult to see details in images. This makes diagnosis more challenging.2. In an effort to improve resolution in the newest generation of digital cameras, technicians often increase radiation dosage.  This was surprising news to me, as the general trend in medical imaging is toward technology advances that enable...

Fun With Acronyms

Mar 18, 2015 by Julia L F Goldstein
In an effort to keep up on news related to the beats I cover, I have several Google Alerts set up. One of them is "CZT," which is shorthand for cadmium zinc telluride (CdZnTe). This material is similar to the semiconductor cadmium telluride (CdTe), which is used in thin film solar cells. CZT is also a semiconductor and it is useful for detecting radioactive materials. This is important for homeland security, in order to screen for overseas shipments that may contain a dirty bomb, and also in medical imaging, to monitor radiation dosage. So if I get news that a CZT supplier has ramped up production or has landed a contract with an influential customer, that is something I need to know. My...

The Dangers of Sitting All Day

Mar 10, 2015 by Julia L F Goldstein
The news over the past couple of years is that sitting is especially unhealthy. I read an article in Runner's World awhile back that said sitting is as bad for your health as smoking! So what is a writer to do? Get a standing desk, of course, and perhaps a treadmill to go with it. There's a whole store near me devoted to desks designed for standing or walking, called appropriately "Work While Walking." At the moment I'm going back and forth between sitting at the beautiful maple desk I bought for my home office almost 15 years ago, and standing at the kitchen counter with my wireless keyboard and mouse on the counter and my laptop perched on a cereal box so the screen...

Particle Board

Mar 06, 2015 by Julia L F Goldstein
Despite what you might think after reading my introductory post, I am not always enamored of engineered materials. So when the design consultant asked whether I wanted the plywood upgrade for the interiors of the new cabinets in my laundry room, I said yes. Even though it's just a laundry room. Even though there is particle board in my kitchen cabinets (not my choice - they were there when we moved in). I'm happy with this 20-year-old house we bought last summer, but there are definitely things I want to change. Like the laundry room. I can't understand why no one ever put in a laundry room sink when the room is plumbed for it. Now, I could buy one of...

Welcome, readers!

Mar 05, 2015 by Julia L F Goldstein
As a freelance writer, I figured it was about time I had a blog. People have asked me about my blog, and I've been sort of embarrassed to say I don't have one. It's time to fix that. To some extent I've needed to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, but here I am. My underlying theme has to be materials. That's been the focus of my technical interests ever since college, when I took an introductory Materials Science course and became fascinated with the concept of engineered materials, the idea of being able to tailor a material's properties and function, and decided I had to get an advanced degree in materials science. So I may write about anything from...