Labor Day Special: Beer, Aviation, and Design, Together in One Post


Part One: A weirdo conceptual plane, a flying wing designed to look like a ninja star, will shift from subsonic to supersonic flight by turning 90 degrees and going sideways. Or so we are told by Innovation News Daily:


I am not sure whether this is the pre- or post- sideways-turn view, but you can find out that and further details at the Innovation News site, also here.

Part Two: The classic "pint glass" for drinking beer, which has what I think you would call a truncated-cone shape and which is shown at right and left in the picture below, turns out, according to findings of research scientists, to be the best way to drink beer!


So we are told by scientists here and here. To be precise, they say that glasses with curved or fluted shapes lull drinkers into thinking they've consumed/enjoyed less beer than they actually have -- or than they would from a glass with straight sides. (Pint glasses above, from two of my favorite haunts: Fitger's Brewhouse in Duluth, Mn., on the left, and the Hangar 24 brewery in Redlands, Ca, on the right. The short one in the foreground is from a special series made with the design of aviation charts -- in this case, the Class B Terminal Area Chart for San Francisco. A complete set of glasses from this series arrived as a thoughtful Christmas gift from a family member who knows me well.)

Part Three: A nice item from Smithsonian on a future step in aircraft design, based on patterns from nature. For instance:


As the story explains:
The concept plane, which they hope resembles the real Airbus models of 2050, takes biomimicry as a guiding principle for the design of forms and materials. The most noticeable aspect of this approach is in the fuselage, which, instead of being wrapped in opaque steel, is composed of a web-like network of structural material that looks a bit like a skeleton. In fact, that's exactly what it should remind you of, because it's inspired by the bone structure of birds.
I am guessing that the open spaces shown above would, in the real plane, be glassed over rather than leaving passengers exposed to the 400-knot breeze, plus instant-death temperatures and air-pressure conditions, they would encounter at cruising altitudes. A decade ago, I got to interview designers of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner about their attempts to apply some more "natural" concepts in that plane's interior and exterior design. More about that, plus interior shots from a real Dreamliner I saw a while ago, when I can find them.

I was going to add a tantalizing new boiled-frog element, but this is enough for a holiday weekend.
Presented by

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What's the Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life?

A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities

Elsewhere on the web


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



More in Technology

From This Author

Just In