Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Indestructible Super Mug To Save Humanity 300

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the ok-maybe-that's-a-bit-of-overkill dept.
prostoalex writes "Next time a ceramic mug falls on the ground, you won't have to buy a new coffee:"A team of undergraduates at the university in Socorro designed a ceramic mug that can fall 15 feet onto concrete pavement and still hold a full cup of java afterward without leaking."" Thank god I can sleep easy at night ;)
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Indestructible Super Mug To Save Humanity

Comments Filter:
  • Bah. (Score:5, Informative)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Monday February 27, 2006 @11:41AM (#14808554)

    When I first read the summary, I thought these kids had designed some new interesting ceramic material that would prove to have many practical applications. After all, that's what the contest is for...

    From TFA:
    Contestants generally try to design mugs out of high-tech materials so they won't break.

    But the New Mexico Tech team used a different tactic...making part of their mug expendable, to save the rest. In short, they cheated.

    Now don't get me wrong...I'm all for thinking outside the box...after all, I'm the one whose egg drop [pitsco.com] design in high school incorporated a parachute, ensuring my egg could survive a drop from any altitude. I was the clear winner, because I too 'thought outside the box'.

    Did I get a commendation for my cleverness? Did I get a write-up in USA Today?

    No. I got an F, despite there being no rules whatsoever prohibiting parachutes (although I hear they wrote in that rule the following year).

    These New Mexico Tech students 'thought outside the box', and in doing so, completely subverted the whole point of the competition. Using this strategy, they managed to net second place, and they get a newspaper article for it.

    Again, bah.
    • Well, if the underside section could be replaced, then it could have uses.

      But how long for gravity to kick in? Nine feet in the contest, and 15 feet ability, are not useful for my coffee table or desk. If it could correct within 50cm, thus stopping the carpet from getting dirty, then it would be worthy.
    • Don't tell me that you're still sore at Kirk for the whole Kobayashi Maru thing, are you? I mean, he did cheat fair and sqaure. :-P

      I think the reason why the judges liked this entry was because it was a practical engineering solution similar to what you'd see in the real world. While every engineer wishes that a magic material would come along to solve all their problems (and on rare occasions they do get that wish), most of the time an engineer is forced to make the type of tradeoff seen in the coffee cup.
    • Not a university :) (Score:4, Interesting)

      by pavon (30274) on Monday February 27, 2006 @11:54AM (#14808673)
      Using this strategy, they managed to net second place, and they get a newspaper article for it.

      That is the administrations improved PR in work.

      As a proud alumni, I'd like to point out, just because our adminstration hates it when we do so, that the name is New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and it is not a University :) It is not in the name, and historicaly, the term university, has been reserved for large schools that are divided into multiple colleges. We are a small engineering college and we like it that way. Bigger is not always better - stop trying to ruin the school with your illusions of grandure.

      </rant>

      Sorry for that. Several years ago the administration decided make increasing enrollment it's biggest goal, which came with talks of improving freshmen retention. Tech already accepts almost anyone who applies (a good thing), and about half drop out after before completing their junior year. While a couple classes seemed to be "weeding-out classes", most were reasonably challenging for those willing to learn. So there is naturally concern that standards will drop as a result of the administrations direction.

      The practice of slapping the word Univerity into all the press releases started at the same time, and the two are linked in my mind, hence the rant.

      Anyway, sounds like a fun competition, and best regards to the materials students that designed the project.
      • historicaly, the term university, has been reserved for large schools that are divided into multiple colleges

        Actually, it's usually used to distinguish the difference between a school that has a post-graduate program from one that doesn't.

        This isn't always true anymore, of course, since some "Colleges" offer both undergraduate and graduate programs.
      • Tech is a university as it offers undergraduate, post-graduate degrees, and has research facilities. That's the definition of a university.

        If you look at the press release [nmt.edu] from Tech, and not the USA Today article, they never mention university, so your rant is a bit off base.

        Oh, and BTW, I went to Tech, too. I still like to call it School of Mines, though, as it was one of the land grant colleges from back in the 1890's. Freshmen retention has always been a big issue for Tech because most classes we

    • But the New Mexico Tech team used a different tactic...making part of their mug expendable, to save the rest. In short, they cheated.

      These New Mexico Tech students 'thought outside the box', and in doing so, completely subverted the whole point of the competition. Using this strategy, they managed to net second place, and they get a newspaper article for it.

      I see. So any idea that maintains the spirit of the competition but violates the rules is cheating, is it? I say 'bah!' to that. As a graduate of t

    • I got an F, despite there being no rules whatsoever prohibiting parachutes

      The idea in both situations is to design something that can survive the impact -- not avoid the impact, which is what you did,
      They came up with an innovative solution to the problem. You just avoided the problem altogether.

    • by hyfe (641811)
      I got an F, despite there being no rules whatsoever prohibiting parachutes (although I hear they wrote in that rule the following year).

      The rules you linked clearly used the word 'vehicle'. A parachute is not a vehicle.

      You cheated, got caught and you're whining about it god knows how many years later!

      tihi :)

      • A parachute is a vehicle, it's a technology that propells something through the air.
        Most egg drop contests have a no parachute rule, but if his didn't, then he clearly won.
        • While I wouldn't argue whether or not a parachute was a vehicle or not - there's just too much that's available to interpretation - a parachute is NOT a propellant.

          It's purpose is to aid with deceleration (retard your fall), not acceleration.
      • You cheated, got caught and you're whining about it god knows how many years later!

              C'mon, give him a break. It obviously meant a lot to him!
    • These New Mexico Tech students 'thought outside the box', and in doing so, completely subverted the whole point of the competition. Using this strategy, they managed to net second place, and they get a newspaper article for it.

      And no I wasn't going to do the cliche, but remember the story about the millions NASA pumped into making the ballpoint pen that could be used in zero gravity, but the Soviets saved time and money by using a pencil. (Even though I remember reading a snopes article)

      But the lesson is th
    • When I first read the summary, I thought these kids had designed some new interesting ceramic material that would prove to have many practical applications. After all, that's what the contest is for...

      [...]

      But the New Mexico Tech team used a different tactic...making part of their mug expendable, to save the rest. In short, they cheated.

      Good design is more important than good materials. So I think the win was fair.

      Second, go NMT!

    • In an effort to be negative, you're too far inside the slashbox mode of thinking. Grab a blurb from the article, take an angle and get crabby. That or you are just bitter :)

      I think you have a right to be bitter. Per the rules you posted, you should not have gotten an F. Now, if during your class the spirit of the class was to deal with materials or polymers or impact resistance then your parachute idea would have been against the spirit of the contest. Egg dropping contests are common in engineering an
    • I did the HS egg-drop competition, too. the "Parachute" technique is the obvious plan, and is about the furthest from "thinking outside the box" you can be.

      also, if you had enough materials for a parachute, your egg-drop contest simply wasn't restrictive enough.
    • It's bullshit that you got an F, especially since there were no specific rules prohibiting what you did.

      I lost an egg-drop competition at my work because the vague rules didn't specify a bullseye hit (not only did the egg have to survive but it had to hit a bullseye on the ground when dropped from 50 feet). The winning team had a giant sheet of plastic that basically covered the bullseye, which was considered a hit, despite the egg being 10' from the actual target. My team's egg was an inch away from the

    • I've seen a lot of these competitions, and taken part in a couple.
      In most cases, the organizers of the competition have a management, not engineering mindset.
      These folks typically do NOT like the unexpected, especially in contests they're organizing.

      If you participate in these competitions, you learn some really important things about engineering:
      As an engineer, you must listen to your Client and determine:

      What the Client he says he wants.

      What the Client really wants.

      What the Client needs.

      What the C

  • by Lev13than (581686) on Monday February 27, 2006 @11:42AM (#14808569) Homepage
    A team of undergraduates at the university in Socorro designed a ceramic mug that can fall 15 feet onto concrete pavement and still hold a full cup of java afterward without leaking.

    The secret is to butter the bottom of the mug, thus ensuring that it always lands the right way up.
    • ...then attach a cat's feet to the buttered side, thus creating a gravitational paradox. (Cat must land on its feet, but the butter must land down.) The result is an antigravity cup that is incapable of falling. Just imagine, a coffee cup that hangs in midair! Just like the Jetsons!
    • by TubeSteak (669689)
      I just RTFA, and your snarky "butter the bottom" comment is closer to the truth than you'd expect.

      Tech's cup "kind of looks like a bomb," Hirschfeld said. "It's rounded (at the bottom) and the bomb part breaks so the rest can survive."
      ..
      Adding to the difficulty, the contest requires that mugs be dropped on their sides. But the sacrificial bomb -- which weighs more than the mug on top -- and gravity take care of that, Price said.

      They didn't use any fancy ceramics, instead they gamed their design.
      Clever, but

  • The NewMexTech students are purportedly working on a new indestructable chair.
    It will have the ability to absorb impacts from dropping, kicking or throwing due to sudden fits of rage and violent outbursts of anger. [sys-con.com]
  • Its the damn coffee I am concerned about when I drop it.
  • Round Bottoms (Score:4, Insightful)

    by beders (245558) on Monday February 27, 2006 @11:44AM (#14808585) Homepage

    From TFA "It's rounded (at the bottom)"

    That'll sit nicely on a desk...

  • Thank god I can sleep easy at night ;) Not if you drink that cup of Java :-P
  • Pics (Score:5, Informative)

    by kevin_conaway (585204) on Monday February 27, 2006 @11:44AM (#14808594) Homepage
    Here is a different article with pictures of the mug [abqtrib.com]
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Monday February 27, 2006 @11:45AM (#14808603) Journal
    Like the article says, the issue of dropping a mug to save coffee is entirely in the transfer of kinetic energy to the right places.

    As the mug falls, it gathers velocity towards the ground (thank you, gravity) and upon impact it stops when it meets the resistance of cement. This resistance means that the prior amount of kinetic energy must be absorbed at some point in the mug or absorbed by the concrete (not too feasible).

    I'm going to say that I'm not accounting for everything here ... yes, there's entropy and blah blah blah going on but this is a cut and dried version of what you should focus on.

    The strategy behind their solution is that they used a "crumple point" at the base of the mug. What they refer to as "the bomb" is really just a crushable base that sufficiently absorbs the energy. Therefore, the energy does not transfer to the coffee (which would thus splash it everywhere). This is a lot like the crumple points on modern car frames. My car's frame has points at which, if I run into something, the energy will be absorbed in the event of extreme energy transfer. This stops the energy from transferring to my body and causing me to splash everywhere. Let me tell you, you do not want to splash everywhere; it's quite messy and rather painful. As a car designer, you'd like to know precisely where energy will be transferred to in the event of an accident so you create crumple zones. If a car is in a sufficient collision, often times it will be necessary to have the vehicle "pulled" which means spending a lot of money to have some goof put it in a very expensive machine that pulls on the frame until everything is back to near perfect specs and calibration.

    I, on the other hand, prefer loading it onto a flatbed trailer, attaching a hand winch to both axles and laying underneath it and winching until your friend tells you that the doors can open and they no longer touch the front quarter panels. Alignment? Oh, that's just for rich people and inspectors.

    Now, what I don't like about this mug design is that it seems to be a one shot deal for the mug. Yes, you've saved your coffee but your mug is shot.

    I'm reminded of when I used to work in a restaurant and ceramic plates and glass would occasionally drop by mistake from my hands and the hands of coworkers. Now, as time went on, I noticed that glass objects like drinking glasses would have one bounce. I do not know why but they would have one bounce and then SMASH ... a million pieces. Ceramic plates were just a spider web on impact (quickly absorbing energy) but the glass seemed to almost always get one bounce.

    Knowing this, if I saw an empty glass falling, I knew I had one bounce to try and save it but the bounces weren't always too high. Years of hacky sack training on sipas finally became useful. Now, there is a move I was taught that we called a "lazy man" that involved kicking the foot out but actually using the ankle movement to kick the bag up into the air. There were a few times when a glass dropped and after the first bounced I lazy manned it up and caught it and I was a god for 10 minutes at least in the back of the kitchen. Sure, there were times when it just looked like I was booting a glass into the wall but it was worth it. I always wondered if those saved glasses would ever get another bounce if they dropped again.
    • by PFI_Optix (936301) on Monday February 27, 2006 @11:55AM (#14808696) Journal
      Knowing this, if I saw an empty glass falling, I knew I had one bounce to try and save it but the bounces weren't always too high. Years of hacky sack training on sipas finally became useful. Now, there is a move I was taught that we called a "lazy man" that involved kicking the foot out but actually using the ankle movement to kick the bag up into the air. There were a few times when a glass dropped and after the first bounced I lazy manned it up and caught it and I was a god for 10 minutes at least in the back of the kitchen. Sure, there were times when it just looked like I was booting a glass into the wall but it was worth it. I always wondered if those saved glasses would ever get another bounce if they dropped again.

      I'm going to venture a guess here. The bottom of the glass is the heaviest and strongest part, especially on restaurant glasses made for heavy use and frequent washing. It stands to reason that the glass would turn so that the bottom hit the ground first. The bottom strikes the ground unevenly, recoils, and the glass is thrown into a spin. When it strikes the ground again, it's with the much more fragile side of the glass.

    • Knowing this, if I saw an empty glass falling, I knew I had one bounce to try and save it but the bounces weren't always too high. [...] I always wondered if those saved glasses would ever get another bounce if they dropped again.

      No, they get one bounce each. According to my spouse and close friends in the chemistry trade, glassware bruises on the first shock and shatters on the second (unless the force is so extreme that it gets pulverized in one shot or so trivial that it is completely unharmed). My o

    • You can get a lot of hazing without external damage - if you have any clear biros around, put one in your teeth and squeeze gently until you get a "craAACk" noise; there'll be a craze in the plastic, but the surface will remain completely smooth. Since plastic strains during fracture, you get a white stress-area that's highly visible, that looks like a crack - glass breaks very cleanly though, so crazes in glass might be invisible unless you were looking very carefully for them. This is similar to why you c
    • This resistance means that the prior amount of kinetic energy must be absorbed at some point in the mug

      IANAMEoP (Mech Engr or Physicist), but couldn't the mug be designed to deflect its downward momentum horizontally upon impact (i.e., rolling)? That's usually what stuntmen do when they jump out of windows, is it not?
  • As pointed out in the article, the mug "breaks"...at least part of it does. However, the coffee doesn't spill. I'm not sure how likely I would be to finish my coffee in a mug that has bits of broken ceramic hanging off of it (though some mornings, it's a real possiblity). Beer on the other hand...well, the very idea of split beer...I ... just...can't... talk about it.

    Coffee and beer drinkers aside, I wonder if a design that that could be used to transport hazardous or toxic liquids.
    • However, the coffee doesn't spill.
      Actually, the article says the contest rules required the mug to be dropped on its side. While this mug is self-righting, the starting position would sort of preclude any coffee to begin with. ...I wonder if a design that that could be used to transport hazardous or toxic liquids.
      The design has one function -- to protect from a drop. It does nothing for impacts from any other direction. Smack it hard enough and it would shatter. I doubt that would be very useful for tra
    • the mug "breaks"...at least part of it does.

            So now we have coffee mugs with "crumple zones". What's next - air bags?
  • The problem with ceramic mugs is not that they are breakable, it is that you can't have a cup of coffee sit in them more than 10 minutes before it is nearly ice cold.

    Make me a mug that looks like a nice ceramic, but has the termal insulation value of my vaccum sealed travel mug.

  • I think I'll stick my ole reliable Pessimist's Mug to cheer me up in the morning. If I drop it, it was not meant to be.
  • I have an Extreme Gulp from 7-11.

    It's 9.5 inches tall, 5.5 inches in diameter and practically indestructable. I have no reservations about chucking it 15 feet up into the air.

    It'll hold 52 ounces, but can be modded [virtualfreshair.com] to hold 38% more.

    In 1967 (The Graduate) the future was plastics.
    Which is the Next Big Thing? Ceramics or nano-stuff?
  • who's drinking coffee 15 feet in the air?
  • The big question is: Is it stain resistant. I mean the sort of stain from having a half cup of coffee sit in it for hours at a time, only to be filled up again and repeat for a few months between cleanings. If so, sign me up!
  • "Next time a ceramic mug falls on the ground, you won't have to buy a new coffee"

    Here I was hoping that they had found a way to prevent the coffee to be spilled when dropping the mug.

    Dropping a mug 15 meters on concrete is not part of my coffee cup usage patterns anyway.
  • I doubt that it will do any good in my car, which is the only place I'm likely to drop a cup of coffee.
  • On the one hand, it sounds like this mug would probably break if dropped from waist height, since there wouldn't be time for it to right itself. Also, even if it could, it would only work once, since the "Holy Hand Grenade" portion at the bottom would disappear. So this design is, in practice, completely worthless.

    On the other hand, I have to appreciate the creation of a contest entry designed to satisfy the verbatim rules of the contest, as my buddy and I are responsible for at least a page of prohibitio
  • But this is retarded.

    Did the kids come up with a new, unbreakable ceramic? No.

    Did they come up with something that can be used more then once? No

    Did they come up with something that would retain its coffee if knocked off a table? No

    When i read the summary I thought: A coffee mug that I can drop whenever, from whereeer, and it'll keep its coffee.

    This article is nothing like the summary makes it sound like. These cups can be used a grand total of one time (after which you need a whole new crumple zo
  • "Next time a ceramic mug falls on the ground, you won't have to buy a new coffee: ..."

    so what you're saying is, this new mug is spill-proof?
  • The New Mexico Tech team didn't even win, they came in 2nd. University of Missouri-Rolla won.
  • by Espectr0 (577637)
    and still hold a full cup of java afterward without leaking

    So they use a garbage collector?
  • Really, the only way I could see dropping my precious precious sweet wonderful precious coffee would be if someone chopped off the hand that was holding it. Seriously.
  • Cost of mug to Starbucks: $0.50
    Cost of coffee to Starbucks: $0.20
    Price of coffee at Starbucks: $2.50
    Cost of bad customer service: Priceless

    Any coffee shop worth its salt should replace a broken cup of coffee... within reason. Of course they are under no obligation to, but it's got to be cheaper than investing in bomb shaped, ceramic nightmares from hell.

    This is an intreresting academic exercise... right up there with "Who can design a vessel that can save an egg dropped from 200 feet?". That gem has kept sc
  • I drop that bomb, the bottom shatters and ... yes, my coffee's still inside, I can still drink it, but after dropping it once, the bottom part is probably not doing too well a job at holding it upright.

    So I can either place that sorta-kinda designer piece I got then (hey, it's a one-of-a-kind after dropping, none will look the same way when they hit the floor!) and carefully balance it so it stays upright, or I can go out and do what I do now already after dropping my coffee:

    I go out and buy a new cup.

    What'
  • Instead of broken cups we would now have broken toes and cracked pavement...
  • Adding to the difficulty, the contest requires that mugs be dropped on their sides. But the sacrificial bomb -- which weighs more than the mug on top -- and gravity take care of that, Price said.

    Hmm. Unfortunately, they've mastered crumple zones at the expense of understanding basic laws of physics...

    That would be "aerodynamics", not "gravity", that might help the mug to align its top side above the "heavier" sacrificial bomb side. After all, I think that Galileo confirmed that the heavier cannonball


  • The article features the second-place winners, so what does the first-place design look like?
  • Give me a break.

    I still have a nice, big mug that I bought in 1987 as a freshman in college. Its made out of this wonderful, space-age material called 'plastic'.

    Amazing stuff.

    - Necron69

There are running jobs. Why don't you go chase them?

Working...