London Air Traffic Visualisation

More than 50% of the 2 million flights in UK airspace every year arrive or depart from one of the five airports in (and around) London.  That’s well over 5,000 flights using just Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, London City, and Luton every day!

I appreciate that being able to imagine all of those flights is almost incomprehensible, but fortunately for us NATS have put together a superb visualisation showing exactly that.

Information is beautiful.

Watch the equally impressive air traffic videos for the whole UK here or the whole of Europe here.



This is an awesome project and makes me slightly envious of the fact I never really got into any of the Lego Mindstorms components or sets.

Jason Allemann, the “J” in JK Brickworks, has created Bricasso.  An entirely Lego construction that uses a Mindstorms Ev3 Color Sensor to scan a pre-pixelated image and then prints, or rather builds, a mosaic out of 1×1 Lego plates.

The plate feeder can hold up to 450 pieces in nine different colours so Bricasso could produce some rather elaborate and detailed works.

Watching it in action I’m sure you’ll agree it is one cool piece of kit!

Since the colour sensor is not that precise, the tiles along the bottom edge act as a colour legend for the device telling it which bin to get coloured tiles from.  This avoids off-colour matching (like red being mistaken for burgundy or pink) and allows for colour swapping should you wish to change a colour in the image (and don’t want to create a whole new image).

I love the hinge joint that that rolls off the pieces after they have been laid down (using an authentic Lego rubber band to rock back into alignment) and the simplicity of using a gravity fed system to load the plates.  I wonder how many iterations that took to achieve flawlessly?

For more information on the build process and how the components work see the JK Brickworks site here.  It is definitely worth a watch to see the design process he went through.  Jason is even hinting at developing this further into the realm of 3D Lego printing, yes please!

Big thanks to Ally for sending this my way.

Happy Birthday Inspirational Geek!

Happy birthday Inspirational Geek – 6 years old today!

happy birthday 6

I know I say this every year, but wow, really, what a whirlwind 12 months it has been.

The more astute of you will have noticed my post frequency decrease somewhat over the past six months but, with a seven month old daughter, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Blog-related highlights over the past year have included some incredible design, product reviews, stunning exhibitions, beautiful art, software milestones, and some advanced origami amongst many, many more.

What’s been your favourite post over the past year?  Why not take a chance to discover a previously unread with this random post link.

As ever you can keep up to date with all goings on here by subscribing (at the top right hand side of the page) to get new posts delivered straight to your inbox, following Inspirational Geek (and myself) on Twitter here and here, and of course you can like the Facebook page here.

Here’s to the year ahead!

Design Of The Year 2015 – Lung On A Chip

This year’s shortlist for Design of the Year was an incredible array of design and talent spread over a range of sectors from Architecture to Digital, and Graphic to Fashion amongst others.

I had thought that the brilliant Ocean Cleanup would take the win (or from a popularity standpoint maybe the self-driving car from Google), but it was in fact the phenomenal piece of design and engineering known as Lung-on-a-chip that took top prize.  It is the first time that a design from the field of medicine has won the top prize in the Design of the Year competition.

Produced by the team at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering it is, in essence, “a new in vitro approach to drug screening by mimicking the complicated mechanical and biochemical behaviours of a human lung”.  Sounds incredible and it is.

lung on a chip

It combines microfabrication techniques with modern tissue engineering to give all the “biological complexity of your lungs distilled onto a computer chip”.  Wow.

Bacteria can be introduced to mimic infections (you can actually see the white blood cells successfully migrate across to engulf the infection!), or the effect of airborne chemicals and new medications can be tested.

Since the chip is lined with actual human cells it gives a much more accurate prediction than testing on animal cells and is not only a much quicker and smaller process, but cheaper too.

lung on a chip2

The goal is to build different organs and link them to create a whole body.  A team at Berkeley have even managed to model a human heart on a chip!

An absolute marvel.  Truly amazing.

Light Well

Working in the lighting industry I often see beautifully executed lighting ideas that by day look simple enough, but by night come alive and transform the space.

The Light Well by Studio Lux Nova is no exception.

light well1

Installed in the market square in Lahti, Finland, it brings the best of both aspects by performing during the day as well as at night.  The interactive nature engages people and creates a beautiful and inspiring focal point.

Drawing on the recent historical findings of the market square excavation site that discovered 150 year old water wells, the Light Well project offers a meeting place and a stage for small-scale events for residents and visitors in the heart of the city as part of the wider area’s overall lighting scheme.

light well2

A fantastic urban lighting solution that enhances the human experience as well as the exterior space.

More from Studio Lux Nova on their site here.


After another long and busy week at work this GIF from illustrator-animator Robin Davey (as part of Time’s “Is Sitting Killing Me?“) struck me as particularly relevant.


Here’s to an active weekend outdoors, happy Friday!

Flow Hive

I’ve had such a positive reaction to my latest post “What Happens If All The Bees Die?” that I thought I’d follow it right up with another bee-related article.

In my research and reading about the critical role that bees play I became curious about what it took to keep bees and produce honey.  It’s probably not something I can undertake with limited outdoor space for now, but if I had a bit more room I would definitely consider the beautifully designed Flow Hive.

“It’s the beekeeper dream, turn a tap right on your beehive and watch pure fresh honey flow right out of your Flow™ hive and into your jar! No mess, no fuss, and the bees are hardly disturbed.”

honey 1

The bees complete the specifically designed comb with their wax and fill the partially formed honeycomb cells with honey.  Insert the special tool and rotate 90 degrees to split the cells and turn them into a channel down which the honey flows, all whilst leaving the bees undisturbed.  For full details on how it works see here.


“It’s literally honey on tap directly from your beehive!”


Fantastic design which balances the purely practical aspects of extracting honey with the aesthetic.

Follow the Flow Hive story on their Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages.

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