The real and the imaginary: Mitchell Joachim
L to R:
"The real and the imaginary"
by Yudhijit Bhattacharjee
The event wasn't so much about science as it was about development. Among the speakers were Mitchell Joachim, a New York designer who won the 2007 Time magazine inventor of the year award for designing -- along with MIT -- a compact, stackable city car, and Blaine Brownell (left), a University of Michigan materials researcher and architect who specializes in eco-friendly building materials.
Joachim wowed the audience with the imaginary. The animation videos he presented featured not just the stackable car -- the design of the stackable car, that is -- but also ideas such as trees networked together into natural green homes.
Brownell was next, and he riveted the audience with the real.
He didn't have videos to show; he wheeled onto the stage a cart loaded with eco-materials like polymeric fabric that converts light to power and countertop surfaces made from factory scrap. Many of these materials are already on the market or close to it, says Brownell, who is on a mission to popularize their use.
I don't know when I'll get to drive Joachim's vision: a car that bunches up like a ladder so you can park 800 of them on a New York city block and communicates with other cars to warn them about a new pothole. To me, it's a shining example of the imaginary part of science, which is often the driver of the real.