Tag Archives: Wake Forest University

Dress Up Warm

This article about smart clothing, which mentions Tinson1’s boss at the project he’s on in North Carolina at the moment, appeared in the Irish Times last week. Apparently Berkeley are working to convert the energy of bending or stretching your arm into electricity. At Wake Forest University (hi, son) they have a prototype T-shirt (only available in black) which uses motion and body heat. Both of these products can power MP3 players and iPhones. Finnish company Myontec have embedded sensors into underwear, to record how hard an athlete’s legs are working. The tshirtOS incorporates an LCD screen which allows it to display tweets. The HugShirt recreates the feeling of getting a hug. The WFU shirt will monitor respiration and heart-rate, and could be used to transmit location and health status.
The materials may even be used in cars, running radios or air-conditioning using the heat and motion generated by passengers simply sitting in their seats.


Charlotte sat in front of her computer and, as she did every day, checked on her dad. She checked his location, and he was at home. She sighed. It used to annoy her if she found he was in the pub, where he and his cronies powered the neon “Guinness” sign outside simply by the number of times they raised and lowered their pint glasses. These days, though, she nearly preferred it.

When he was at home he was within the clutches of his next-door neighbour, Lillian.

Ever since the widowed Lillian, a peroxide bombshell of blonde bosomry in a tight-fitting black t-shirt, had moved in next door, Dad had become like a schoolboy hitting puberty, with a heart-rate that was off the scale. Over time he had thrown away his Hug Shirt (which Charlotte had to admit she had always found slightly creepy anyway) and they had become an item.

One time she had tracked their location to a well-known snogging spot on the hill above the town, where the heat and motion generated by the two of them in their car had shorted out the radio and blown the convertible roof into the next field.

Today, however, all seemed calm and she started to relax. Then suddenly she sat up in horror.

The heat in his underwear had soared to extraordinary levels, and the pants themselves had begun to gyrate.

Then his respiration and heart-rate stopped.

Clearly Lillian had, er, motioned him to death.

Charlotte raced up the road to her Dad’s house, running so fast that her iPod suddenly turned on, blared out three lines of Parklife by Blur, then burst into flames, scorching her left nipple. Gasping from exertion and pain, she hammered on the door, yelling “let me in, you cow!”.

The door opened. Her dad stood there.

“Hi, honey,” he said. “You ok? You look like a women’s libber who forgot to take her bra off before burning it.”

“Very funny,” growled Charlotte, pushing past him into the house. “What on earth’s been going on in your underpants?”

“A question that you’ll find features in surprisingly few daughter-father conversations,” said her Dad, “but since you ask, nothing. They’re in the washing machine.”

Charlotte stared at the machine, which was now on spin cycle. Her Dad’s underpants were revolving faster than a wheel powered by a motorised hamster. “But your vital signs stopped,” she said. Then she noticed he was wearing a normal shirt.

Her dad pointed to his smart t-shirt, draped over a chair. “I took it off,” he said. “I’m just going to cut the grass, and the last time I did that wearing the magic shirt (he always called it that, he knew it annoyed her) I mowed straight through the hedge into next door.”

“Which is how we met,” said a voice, and Lillian appeared in the doorway, coming from the direction of the bathroom. Charlotte knew that the bedroom was in that direction too, but was trying not to think about that.

Today Lillian was wearing her LED-screen-shirt, which Charlotte thought made her look ridiculous, like a teletubby with boobs, but as her Dad looked at Lillian Charlotte noticed that his own shirt, three feet away from him, started to glow softly, and the waste disposal turned on.

Lillian noticed it too. She looked straight at Charlotte, smiled sweetly, and across her chest appeared the tweet “@charlotte: he’s mine now, buzz off :)”.

Time Difference

We have just finished talking to Tinson1 via Skype, for the first time since he went to North Carolina last week. He looks great, seems really happy, and is getting on great with the two guys who went with him. He  says the heat and humidity are amazing, though he told us this in a hoodie with the hood up, since the Air-con was on in his room and the answer to the riddle “how many physics students does it take to figure out air-conditioning?” seems to be “well, more than three, anyway.”

His twenty-first birthday will take place while he is there, and much mockery was made of him before he left about the fact that, since you’re not allowed to drink until you’re 21 in the States, he would only have 12 days of being able to drink before he came home. He wasn’t that bothered, but now says that he was in the college bar during the week, and that the problem doesn’t exist anyway.

His birthday is November the 8th, so his Trinity College student card gives his date of birth as 08/11/91.

The Americans think he was born on the 11th of August.

Outward Bound

When they are babies and you lift them from the cot they cling to you, tiny, chubby fists gripping the shoulders of your shirt. When they become toddlers they run to cling to your legs, head-butting you in the process in painful places. When they are afraid they need hugs from you, when they meet strangers they hide behind you, staring shyly around your knees.

But when they are playful they run away, giggling gleefully as you chase them, happy in the knowledge that you will catch them. (By running away I do not mean filling a toy suitcase with necessities such as toys, taking your toddler brother by the hand, and announcing that you are leaving home, and anyway I apparently always gave up before I got to the front gate).

They slowly move more and more away. They find schoolmates, go to parties and sleep-overs. A morning comes, a surprisingly hurtful morning, when they announce that they would rather walk into the school themselves. Eventually they go somewhere most days with friends, or reply to the question “where are you going?” with the reply “out”.

They are growing up, and growing away.

Tomorrow morning Tinson1 will leave to go to North Carolina.

It’s an exchange program with Wake Forest University, where he will take part in some Physics project to do with solar panels. He will only be gone for three months, though those three months will include a special birthday of Mrs Tin’s (the one and only mention that I will ever make of this birthday here) and his own twenty-first.

(I say, by the way, that he will be back after three months, although having seen where the College are putting him up it’s hard to see why he would).

I hope he has a wonderful time, that he meets wonderful friends with whom he will stay in touch forever. We will miss him, his cheerfulness, his earnestness, his caring and friendly manner, but we know that these qualities are the ones that will make him popular over there, and help to ensure that he has a tremendous, life-changing experience.

I’ve shown the picture below before, but it sums up today, as he strides across the sands, one heel lifted as he takes steps away, but still looking back to us, smiling.

Have a super time, son. We love you, and are, as always, more proud of you than we can say.

Than I’ll Ever Know

Having told you all that Tinson1 and I were going on the beer last Friday because his exam results were coming out, I should really have let you know that he passed them.

He will start Fourth Year Physics in September, and must begin by carrying out a nine-week project.

The one he has chosen is “3D Optical Architecture for very high efficiency solar collection“ (I know, piece of piss, but then kids don’t have it as tough these days as we did back in the day, when we had to learn Latin, Viking and Fletching).

This project will not take place in his own Trinity College, though, a mere train ride from our house. It is in Wake Forest University.

In North Carolina.

I must confess that all I know about North Carolina is that it is above South Carolina, and even that is based on logic rather than actual geographical knowledge. But since he got the news yesterday we have consulted (possibly for the first time ever) our huge Atlas of the World and have learnt that he will be getting up five hours later than I do (no change there), that the state’s capital is Raleigh, that it has humid subtropical temperatures, and does not appear to be populated by bears, alligators or any of the other creatures which make other US States so entertaining in movies, though less so when your son is going to live there.

Needless to say he can’t wait, and we are delighted for him.

Although it carries the term “furthering one’s education” to a whole new level.