“Dot’s Adventures with Transportation: Re”new”able Energy” is directly related to the Go! Green series posted in May 2015, which looks at what is happening now (and will happen in the future) to reduce carbon emissions from transportation.
Just like the Go! Program Coordinator and editor, Rema Nilakanta, said before me: “Some issues are planned in advance, while some evolve organically.” Go! magazine and its companion publication ¡Vamos started changing rapidly in July 2014 and has since evolved into a completely new e-zine (abet it did take some extra time).
Although Go! has a new face, a new look, and plenty of new material for both teachers and students, the goal is still the same—to develop the transportation workforce by educating and stimulating young minds about the vast educational and career possibilities in transportation.
Here is an overview of what is new or coming next:
Facelift–If you are not new to Go! magazine, then I’m sure you have already noticed that Go! received somewhat of a facelift. With a new theme, new energy, and a brand new set of article topics, we are ready to help students get interested in transportation engineering. We find the new website more user friendly overall, so feel free to explore and enjoy.
Article topics–We would love to cover everything, but sometimes that causes us to lose sight of what we are trying to provide to teachers and students. Keeping that in mind, we have narrowed our topics (generally) to the following: Go! History, Go! Explore, Go! Green, Go! Safety, Go! ABC-UTC.
Articles–With four articles being written each month (on average) by Go! magazine’s graduate student writer, a more reliable system has been established when posting to the web. Of the four articles, in general, one article is posted each week. The articles consist of one interview-based article and a three-part series. We also post a bi-monthly article from the Accelerated Bridge Construction University Transportation Center (ABC-UTC).
Dot’s Adventures with Transportation– As an alternative to the written article, one Iowa middle school teacher asked if Go! magazine “did anything else?” As a response, Dot’s Adventures with Transportation was created. Written by myself and illustrated by graphic designer Stephen Post, the first “Dot’s Adventure,” entitled “Dot’s Adventures with Transportation: The Career Quiz” introduced readers to teenager Dot before she departs on her first real adventure into the small yet big, high-tech, and unbelievable world of transportation. Besides the first comic, each “Dot’s Adventure” will directly relate to a recently published three-part series.
Newsletter–Originally created as an outreach material, the first web-based HTML newsletter went out on November 3, 2014. The e-newsletter is sent on the first Monday of each month, and includes a brief description of the previous month’s (the newest) articles with links to the site, any relevant news material, and educational book reviews. If you aren’t already subscribed, just sent an inquiry to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
America is a nation of beef eaters, and, well, there are chicken eaters too. Really, there are plenty of everything eaters. You may travel to the local supermarket to get your weekly supply of meats, but how does it get there? Livestock, specifically cattle, swine, and chickens often have a long journey ahead of them—often by heavy truck or train. In this article, to better understand how animals travel, let’s take a look at how some of the most traveled animals—livestock—get safely from place-to-place.
The 28 Hour Law
In the late 1800s, livestock were often shipped across the country with little food or water in overcrowded train cars. As a result, many animals died in transit—as many as 900 cattle often died in one train car during the 1870s.
The transporting of livestock has been around for centuries. However, it wasn’t until the late 1800s that rules were put into place to protect livestock from unnecessary stress, injury, and even fatality.
In response to the inhumane treatment of livestock, the American Humane Association (AHA) and local divisions of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) collaborated. The result? A law called the “28 Hour Law” was first enacted in 1873, which required the humane transport of livestock, specifically the rail transport of cattle, sheep, swine, and other animals. It was amended in 1994 to include transportation by express or common carriers involving confinement in a “vehicle or vessel.” In response to a legal petition from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agreed in September 2006 that the term “vehicle” applied to trucks and other common forms of transportation. The 28 Hour Law states that animals shall “be unloaded in a humane way into pens equipped for feeding, water, and rest for at least five consecutive hours.” Although much progress has been made in the care and transport of livestock since the late 1800s, the 28 Hour Law doesn’t cover everything. For more information on the law, visit the USDA National Agricultural Library.
In the last article of the series, “Movies in motion: Transportation in Interstellar,” we looked at the “science” of space travel in film. In this article, we’re going to switch gears and look at one of the most famous films set on the ocean—Titanic.
James Cameron—director of famous films like Avatar, Terminator, and Titanic—has a track record for filming popular movies with a big price tag. One of those films, Titanic, is the third most expensive film produced of all time at nearly $294 million. But the money was well spent. Titanic ranks second at the worldwide box office, grossing over $2.2 billion. Not bad for a movie produced in 1997. But what takes the top spot of highest grossing film? That would have to be Cameron’s 2009 computer-generated imagery (CGI) masterpiece Avatar at $2.8 billion.
But what made Titanic so popular? How was all that money spent? Well, let’s just say Cameron did his homework when it came to directing this film.
History of the RMS Titanic
Titanic is based on the shipwreck of the RMS Titanic in April 1912. The RMS Titanic hit an iceberg on its way from Southampton, England to New York. The ship, nicknamed the “unsinkable” because of its size, took with it the lives 1,500 passengers. The loss of life was so great partially because of overcapacity coupled with the lack of lifeboats. The reality was that there were only 20 life boats—only enough to save about 53 percent of those onboard. Additionally, many of the boats were not completely full. During the disaster, one of the RMS Titanic officers thought the order, from Captain Edward Smith, was to load women and children only instead of first. The lack of boats wasn’t due to a lack of space, because the RMS Titanic had been originally designed to accommodate up to 64 boats. The fault lies with the outdated safety regulation and complacency of White Star Line, the ship’s operators.
How Titanic was filmed
Cameron’s fascination with shipwrecks led him to spend part of that $2.2 billion budget on a few deep sea dives where his team filmed the wreckage of the RMS Titanic (See “Exploring the oceans”). According to IMBD, Cameron and his film crew spent more time with the RMS Titanic than the actual passengers did in 1912. This footage made it into the final film.
In the last article of the series, “Movies in motion: Transportation in The Matrix and Transformers,” we looked at infamous car chase scenes and how the integration of computer-generated imagery (CGI) into film makes the impossible, possible. In this article, we’re going to explore a film that depicts space travel in a scientific yet futuristic way—Interstellar.
We’ve heard this story before: some kind of natural or human-caused disaster has made life on Earth undesirable/uninhabitable. Think about films such as I Am Legend (cancer vaccine creates zombies), War of the Worlds (aliens inhabit the Earth) and, of course, Interstellar (crop blight makes growing food on Earth nearly impossible). Many films like these play off that thrilling but scary idea: future life on Earth is not a guarantee.
So, as the story goes, the choice is to fix Earth or escape from it. Let’s take a closer look at Interstellar and how director Christopher Nolan envisions the people of Earth traveling to a new planet.
Just like the film-making process itself, the world film studies minor offered at Iowa State University (ISU) is interdisciplinary—connecting with a number of departments across campus. Looking beyond just North America’s “Hollywood,” the Department of World Languages and Cultures (WLC) mas made the study of film more global.
Dr. Stacey Weber-Fève, associate professor of French, teaches some of the classes offered in the program. With a background in French and Francophone cinemas, she is particularly interested in the constructions and performances of gender, subjectivity, identity, and more recently “nation” on screen and in print.
To better understand the role of transportation in film and film-making around the world, I spoke with her about the cinematic traditions that make these films come to life.
A conversation with Dr. Stacey Weber-Fève
What connects transportation with film?
One reason that transportation is dominant in film is because it is so key to the vitality of humanity. It allows for the circulation of people and goods, which is so critical for today’s globalized society. I believe that this circulation of people, which is inherent to transportation, affects our psyche (inner-spirit) and allows us to connect with others. Transportation is such a part of our daily existence that I think it seeps subconsciously into the storylines of a good many films.
Transportation as a theme is very dominant in many world films. For instance, many of the spectacular scenes in the 1938 French film La Bête Humaine (“Human Beast”) take place on a train. In fact, the train is so predominant that it almost becomes a main character. Another example is The Fifth Element from 1997, where the protagonist is introduced by falling into a taxicab. The main character in the film, played by Bruce Willis, is a taxicab driver himself. And there is the famous French film, Subway, the majority of which is filmed in the underground Paris Métro system. Transportation in film can create passages to new worlds.
You can also see the role of transportation in many recently popular Hollywood films. In the Divergent series, trains are used to transport people to take the infamous “aptitude test.” In this way, one role the subway and elevated trains play is to network people together. In the Hunger Games films, we see the same motif with the train that runs through the various districts toward the Capitol and back.
What about the use of transportation in the actual filming process?
When you think about modern filmmaking, these films, as well as most mainstream films today, wouldn’t even be possible without vehicles. For example, a regular technique called “tracking shots” are captured by using a camera placed on a moving vehicle. Even very simple tracking shots require “transportation,” because often cameras are mounted on a platform with a cameraman while another member of the filmmaking crew is pulling or pushing the platform. There are many types of tracking shots, but all are made possible thanks to vehicles of different types. While film takes inspiration from and has been shaped by other forms of performing and fine arts, in essence, the ability to capture a moving image is what separates film from photography and these other forms.
Think of any action film you’ve seen (especially chase scenes), it was likely captured by cameras mounted on a moving vehicle (for example, cars or motorcycles) or, more recently, drones. In traditional filmmaking practice, the mounting of cameras on vehicles requires often elaborate “rigging systems,” which are the support systems designed to mount or attach the camera to the moving vehicle. This type of elaborate tracking shot not only captures but also recreates or enhances dynamic movement in the film. In turn, this makes the action sequence more spectacular and more enjoyable for the viewer.
Now, in the 21st century, we’ve even been able to utilize drones for filmmaking. This is actually quite common for international films, however, there is a standing ban on the use of drones in the US (See “’Drone’ on: The rise of the unmanned aircraft”). But this soon might be changing for the Hollywood film industry, when shooting in the US, as some of these restrictions on the use of drones are now being revisited.
You know that movie? You know, the one with the crazy car chase? Or really, any movie directed by Michael Bay? Intensity. Fast vehicles. Explosions. Those kinds of movies have me absolutely glued to the screen. But then, as the credits roll, I start thinking to myself, “What just happened?” I start to question everything. “How much money did they spend just on that scene?” “Was that crash even real?”
Let’s take a look at a few of these film offenders.
First, let’s consider the 2003 film, The Matrix Reloaded. This first sequel to the iconic blockbuster The Matrix follows characters Neo and Trinity in Zion. Did you know that throughout the entire filming process, 94 stunt doubles were hired as stunt drivers and martial artists? And you can’t forget that infamous highway car chase. Why was this chase so impressive? Well, the directors of the Matrix series, The Wachowski Brothers, put up $1.5 million to build a temporary highway on an old naval base in California. Once they finished shooting the highway scene, which took about three months, the highway was deconstructed and 90 percent of the building materials (about 27 million pounds worth) was donated to create housing and insulation in Mexico. Ever wonder where all the cars (aka destroyed, demolished, ruined cars) came from? General Motors donated an impressive 300 cars to create one of the most intense car chase scenes in cinematic history! And with a budget of $150 million, The Matrix Reloaded banked a return of more than $742 million. The main actor who played Neo, Keanu Reeves, is said to have made $126 million from this movie. However, Reeves is said to have donated a lot of his money back to the special-effects technicians and costume designers who put in countless hours making The Matrix Reloaded.
Not impressed yet? Let’s look at the third (originally final) installment of the live-action Transformers film series—Transformers: Dark of the Moon. This 2011 film, directed by Michael Bay, included a robot chase scene that destroyed 532 cars. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Did you know that because many of the donated vehicles had flood damage, they were originally headed to the scrap yard? While Transformers: Dark of the Moon spent more than $195 million during the making of the film, they were able to get a huge return at the box office of more than $1.1 billion, ranking in the top ten highest grossing movies of 2011.
Now it’s time to break the third wall in order to answer my other question: “Are the intense car chases real?” Obviously, the robots crashing onto the highway in Transformers isn’t real, but what about The Matrix Reloaded? Sorry to say, but barely anything is real anymore when there is a technique called “computer-generated imagery” (CGI), which make the stories come to life. Oh yeah, and, don’t forget, move!
When learning about structural engineering, the building of balsa-wood bridges can be a key activity in any engineering class. You can find these scaled bridges made out of balsa wood, lollypop sticks, or even spaghetti (or whatever else is on hand). It is common to use simple weights (such as a few soup cans) to identify how structures behave under stationary loads. With modern, real-world bridge engineering difficulties in mind, this fun activity can get a little more interesting.
How about building a long-span balsa-wood bridge that can withstand both the weight of a moving toy truck and simulated natural disasters? Future prospective bridge engineers in a recent transportation camp for high school students held at Florida International University (FIU) and sponsored by the Accelerated Bridge Construction – University Transportation Center (ABC-UTC) were up to the challenge.
The students were tasked to design and build a 3 ft. bridge made up of only 1/16th inch thick balsa wood pieces and glue. If that wasn’t hard enough, the final bridge needed to be fully constructed in less than 30 minutes and then subjected to earthquake-induced displacements, lateral wind forces, and material degradation due to flooding. To make it even more difficult, students had to safely drive a remote control toy truck across the bridge with progressively greater weights.
Imagine the fun in racing a remote control truck across the bridge deck as up to 100 pounds per square inch (psi) of air makes it flutter. But it isn’t all just fun and games. During the design, building, and competition phase of the activity, students learned very important bridge engineering lessons. With respect to engineering mechanics, they learned about different types of bridges, identified development of internal forces in structural members, designed bridge joints and connection details, and considered loadings due to extreme events and material degradation. On bridge construction, the students had to consider how to prefabricate bridge elements and fully construct their bridge on-site in the 30 minute timeframe. Furthermore, they had to account for all of their materials, which included any waste and extra requested material.
“Dot’s Adventures with Transportation: Buckle Up for Safety” is directly related to the Go! Safety series posted in April 2015, which looks at what can be done to reduce road fatalities around the world.
In our last article, “Town by Town: Suburban Living,” we looked at how suburbs are being reimagined to include more than just car-oriented transportation. In this article, we will be taking a look at how people get around in one of the densest cities in the United States—Los Angeles.
As the second largest city, Los Angeles, California, boasts a population of almost four million people. With such a dense population, Los Angeles has tried to come up with ways to improve the flow of traffic throughout the city.
Did you know that in 2014, the average Los Angeles driver spent almost 60 hours in traffic and wasted nearly 27 gallons of fuel? That means that the 1.2 million of the 1.4 million1 workers in Los Angeles that commuted to work by personal vehicle in 2000 wasted 32.4 million gallons of gasoline (or over $100 million dollars according to 2015 gas prices) sitting in traffic.
With people, transportation, and traffic come air pollution, and with the Los Angeles climate only allowing for about 35 days of precipitation annually, this amount of pollution makes this city one of the worst in the country. Remember, rain helps “wash away” pollution! So without the help of Mother Nature in addition to the large amount of people living in or near the city, Los Angeles has a huge air pollution problem. The solution? Lessening traffic. How? Through implementation of the nation’s most extensive traffic mitigation project ever.