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Brave New Worlds

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WaterShapes LogotypeEric Herman

If you’re like me, news stories in magazines and on television that cover innovations in science and technology are far more interesting than about 95 percent of the stuff featured in the mainstream media these days. To me, few things are more intriguing than peeking in on the creative process and witnessing the spirit that leads to true innovation.

I’d go so far as to say that I see the scientists, engineers, inventors and even artists who, through their pioneering urges, give us new products, tools and ideas are in many ways the real heroes of our time.

One of the challenging things about spotting these innovations is that they don’t come along all that often. To be sure, researchers, manufacturers and artists improve their offerings all the time – incremental progress that is itself often exciting and creative – but part of the reason that true advancements are so special is that they are actually quite rare, even in today’s world of thrilling expansions in tools, technology, materials and creative insight.

Among the great joys we have publishing WaterShapes is the opportunity to shine a light on the people and products that are in one way or another pushing the state of the art. Determining what is and isn’t “newsworthy” in that respect is largely subjective as we seek out designers and innovators whose work is, we think, making a difference. But we trust our instincts (and the feedback we get from a wide-ranging group of advisers), and in the last little while, we think we ran into something big.

Just last February, our old friend, Skip Phillips gave me an enthusiastic earful about the virtues of a new type of pump he was using, specifically one using “variable frequency drive” technology. Skip is generally an enthusiastic guy and he’s especially passionate about hydraulics, but rarely have I ever seen him so animated about a subject. The result of that discussion can be found in his article, “Quiet Efficiency.”

I’ll leave it to Skip to make the case for whether or not this new breed of pumps is a huge leap forward, but there’s no question that what he’s reporting is, at the very least, powerful food for thought. (Click here to read it.)

In the same innovative spirit, you’ll find “Shining Through” by Nate Reynolds (click here). Nate works at Reynolds Polymer Technology, a firm that produces large-scale acrylic structures. To be sure, transparent structures of this sort have been around for a couple of decades, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that few companies have done as effective a job of pushing the technological envelope and drawing the most from a product’s potential. Indeed, some of their projects must be seen to be believed.

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Due credit: On the cover of our February 2006 issue, we ran a photo of a beautiful brass basket/fire feature from the article “Pride of the Yavapai” by Bill Gullekson and Chris Doyle. We omitted a credit to stone and metal sculptor Gordon Paul Mischke of Cave Creek, Ariz., who created this unique homage to weaving patterns found in the crafts of the Yavapai people.

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