Khufu’s Secret Rooms

By Kate
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The Great Pyramid of Giza is not only in Egypt.  It’s in the classroom, our dreams, picture frames, and even the Parisian metro.   But do we really know it? 

Today thanks to an architect and 3D scientific simulation software, I feel like I know Cheops better. 

Building on his internal ramp for construction theory, Jean-Pierre Houdin thinks he has cleared an intuitive itch that something was missing. And his friends Mehdi Tayoubi and Richard Brietner from Dassault Systèmes have helped him do it. 

Most people believe the King’s Chamber was closed from the inside.  But then that would have left a dozen workmen corpses with the deceased.  No skeletons other than the king’s were found in the chamber.  Jean-Pierre believes the room was closed from the outside, through a passageway that has never been physically located or explored.  A passageway that leads to the two funeral antechambers.

What funeral antechambers!? 

It’s true that when I was in 5th grade and made a foam bisection of Cheops, the result looked something like this:

Note the only places indicated are the King’s Chamber, Grand Gallery, Queen’s Chamber and Unfinished Subterranean Chamber. 

Jean-Pierre had the genius idea to study how Khufu’s father designed and built his burial place, the Red Pyramid.  The day his father died, Khufu needed to start planning for his own pyramid.  So it’s logical to think Khufu hired the same architects who’d acquired solid expertise by building his father’s.  And the Red Pyramid contained evidence of something not thought to be associated with Khufu’s: two funeral antechambers and their corridors.

The funeral corridors and antechambers were necessary to carry in and stock furniture and ritualistic objects employed during the ceremony.  Impossible to predict when the king would die, they needed to have everything in place before death. 

The locations of the antechambers, just beside the King’s Chamber, were logistically strategic for slipping the items into the King’s Chamber for the ceremony.  After the ceremony they were moved back to the antechambers, and from the joining corridor, the last granite stone was placed, enclosing the king in the afterlife, forever. 

How did Jean-Pierre verify his theory? 

Only physical proof would provide conclusive evidence, but I was persuaded by the software simulation. 

By taking the same antechamber architectural elements and dimensions from the Red Pyramid and including them in the Cheops 3D model, Jean-Pierre, Richard and Mehdi found answers to questions.  For example, the peculiar twists and directions of the already-explored corridors are justified because they are avoiding the antechamber components. You can see these in the French language news video here (great 3D footage). 

Internal architecture imagined by Jean-Pierre Houdin

Close up view of the funeral antechambers

While I learned many other interesting things today, this tops my list.     

Were the Egyptians so focused on the afterlife that they forgot to pass down the knowledge of how real-life royal funerals were performed?  You know, the “boring” logistical details. 

Do the Cheops antechambers still contain the furniture and objects used to perform Khufu’s funeral? 

I’d like to find out, wouldn’t you? 



P.S.   This morning’s conference presented a lot to digest, and all kinds of fun anecdotes and information to share.  Stay tuned . . .

Digital Cuisine, 3D Chefs and Printers

By Kate
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Food ink beta from the French Culinary Institute

New possibilities are cooking up when it comes to food . . . and 3D.  So move over microwave, it’s time for something geekier: the 3D food printer! 

At least two labs are developing 3D food printers, and I’m starting to salivate. 

The Fab@Home 3D Food Printer

According to the Designboom article:

“Although they are in no way limited to food, Fab@Home machines have already been used to print chocolates, cookies, and even domes of turkey meat. While previous models have typically used only one syringe, the Cornell team is now working with them in multiple, to permit the combination of diverse ingredients in precise proportions.

Currently, only liquids and gels can be used as cartridges, and the researchers have already experimented with cheese, cake batter, chocolate, and dough. Promisingly, current research that involves mixing raw foods with hydrocolloids, creating a gel, may soon expand the repertoire of foods that can be used in the machine.”

  • MIT Media Lab designers Marcelo Coelho and Amit Zoran have invented a similar concept design called “Cornucopia: Digital Gastronomy.” This has hit the interest zone for the likes of BBC, Wired and others, but I find the Gizmag article the most complete. 

MIT Media Lab's Cornucopia Digital Fabricator

Gizmag journalist Loz Blain explains how Cornucopia works:

“The printing head moves on a 3D axis, and extrudes precisely mixed and measured quantities of different ingredients from the canisters on top of the machine. Ingredients can be mixed as they come through the printing head, which is also able to precisely temperature-control the mix as it prints using a laser heating and piped cooling system.

The printed food output sits inside a temperature-controlled chamber that finishes the rest of whatever cooking or cooling needs to happen before the dish is done, and the device lets you know when it’s time to eat.

The ingredient canisters are refillable or automatically re-orderable, and provide constant feedback on stock levels or ingredients that are going out of date as well as offering smart alternatives if you’re low on something.”

My take
New trend?  Yes, and a worthy one.  Aside from molecular cooking, I haven’t been exposed to anything this exciting in cuisine-land since I exploded eggs in our family’s first microwave. 

And why not benefit from developments in CAD and 3D printers to add dimension to your mealtime?  I can imagine all kinds of job conversions from 3D designers to 3D chefs. 

Speaking of, I’d really like to have a chat with the people developing these concepts to find out what software they’re using.  Blain mentioned “3D recipe design” and “recipe files,” and isn’t this really direct modeling 3D software with work instructions? 

A 3D Chef will need to sculpture her ideas, not code them, so we’ve got to get them using something like 3DVIA Shape to concote their recipes.  ;-) 

What do you think about this?  Do you know of any other examples in the cooker? 



General Cloud Computing Acceptance Not So Clear

By Kate
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The other night my father-in-law announced he’d ordered a new laptop computer.  Only after 3 years, his broke.  What followed was a conversation I suspect may sound familiar to you: 

“You know Michel, in the future you won’t need to buy a new computer—just a new screen.  The Cloud will be your computer.” 

“Pfff!  I hope not!  I would never trust my data to the Cloud.”

“Um, Michel, you trust your money to a bank, right?”

“Yes, but that’s because I have to.”

“You’re already using the Cloud for some things, whether you’re aware or not.”

“Perhaps, but I have several external hard drives and I use them to back up my data every few weeks.”

“Michel, is your data so much more precious than your money that you’d prefer to keep it ‘under your mattress?’”

Perhaps I’m surrounded by too much Cloud talk at work.  I figured the General Public would be fairly accepting of the direction the Cloud is taking.  But my father-in-law is an engineer and ex technical director of a pretty technical company, so I wasn’t expecting his reaction. 

Do we care? 

I find it curious that public acceptance does not correlate with the rate of progress for things Cloud-related, i.e. Saleforce’s announcement, legislative advancements around country-specific owned/controlled Clouds, etc.

If Human 1.0 theories hold true, I’d suspect this is because the hunters and gathers in us like to feel that we tangibly own and control stuff.  But have no fear; I’m sure we’ll find a creative way to feel psychologically and emotionally good about our data dominion.  And if we can’t?  Well then we’ll displace our control needs to another domain. 

What’s your take?  And what do your in-laws think about this Cloud business?  

Happy New Year to you! 



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