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Elementary, my dear Newton

Elementary, my dear Newton

The sleeper TV hit of the season, CSI, is proof positive that it's possible to package science and technology in a way that people other than engineers find fun and entertaining. Short for Crime Scene Investigations, the show features a team of forensic detectives who use their knowledge of esoteric topics such as the life span of maggots, blunt objects, and tire tread marks (on a dead body) to find out "who done it."

It's little wonder the show is a big success. Given the choice, I know I'd rather watch live insects eating dead people than watch live people eating dead insects-or were those bugs still kicking on Survivor?

Granted, CSI takes a few shortcuts-like when the detectives get some important DNA test results back in less time than it takes to brew a cup of coffee. But that's splitting hairs-literally, I suppose.

Like the writers of CSI, at Design News we strive to develop editorial content that is both entertaining and educational for our engineering audience. Given that goal, I am pleased to introduce a new Break Time! column that features our very own detective-of sorts-debuting on the back page in this issue.

Called "The Z Files," the column is authored by Dr. Larry Zirkle, P.E. A forensic engineer, he investigates cases involving failed systems, rather than dead bodies. In fact, because he specializes in vehicle accident reconstruction and mechanical product liability, Zirkle is more likely to find a smoking radiator than a smoking gun.

In a series of upcoming columns, many based upon his actual case files, Zirkle will explore just exactly what happens when people experience first-hand the laws of physics. In "The Case of the Dead Daredevil," his detective work centers around Evel Knievel-like stunts and projectile motion. In "The Case of the Immovable Object," our intrepid investigator tackles the subject of incompressibility to explain why a pig is one of the most dangerous obstacles you can run into on the road.

So, like the fans of CSI, we hope you enjoy our show. And no reruns either!

Karen Auguston Field [email protected]

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