Monthly Archives: April 2013

Good enough

Last week I stayed at the Goodenough Club in London while teaching part of a workshop on ‘Engaging Engineering Students in the Classroom’.  The Club provides accommodation for university staff and students visiting London and is attached to Goodenough College, which was founded by Sir Frederick Goodenough in 1930 to provide a collegiate residence and educational trust for international students.  It is located in a leafy square near Coram’s Field and is a tranquil environment to stay in the centre of London.

The name of the College and Club stimulated me to think about the concept of Good Enough or something that is satisfactory or sufficient without excelling.  The concept of sufficiency is one that needs to be closely connected to sustainability because to achieve sustainability we need to remove any tendency towards excess, since excess simply leads to a waste of the Earth’s finite resources [see my post on an ‘Open-world Mind-set’, 4th January, 2013].  As a society we are not very good at sufficiency or good enough.  Businesses and politicians sell us the idea that growth in the quantity and value of our material possessions is a desirable indicator of success so that we tend see self-sufficiency as a somewhat idiosyncratic approach to life.

Never ending growth of material possessions is not viable on a planet with finite resources so if there are to be any resources left for grandchildren then we had better get used to good enough.

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Sonic screwdrivers

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No relevance except for the tranquility or absence of noise.

In a recent post on Noise Transfer [27th March, 2013] I highlighted the parallels between energy transfer by heat and noise.  In many cases, the heat and, or noise transfer is by-product of a process through which energy is dispersed to satisfy the requirements of the second law of thermodynamics, that entropy must increase as a product of all real processes.  Entropy, can be interpreted as a measure of dispersion, or the lack of availability to do anything useful and this applies to most heat and noise that we encounter in everyday life.

We can use concentrated sources of heat to produce useful work such as the furnace in a power station, but the second law of thermodynamics demands that we waste a substantial proportion of it through the creation of entropy.  It is also possible to use concentrated sources of noise, such as ultrasonic transducer to perform useful work for us, such as in surgery and the manufacture of composite materials [see Professional Engineering, http://profeng.com/features/good-vibrations ]; although an all-purpose sonic screw-driver of the kind used by Dr Who is not possible, yet.