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Thomas Thwaites 談我如何製造烤麵包機-從零開始

Thomas Thwaites: How I built a toaster -- from scratch

 

Photo of three lions hunting on the Serengeti.

講者:Thomas Thwaites

2010年11月演講,2011年1月在TEDSalon London上線

 

翻譯:洪曉慧

編輯:劉契良

簡繁轉換:趙弘

後製:洪曉慧

字幕影片後制:謝旻均

 

影片請按此下載

MAC及手持裝置版本請按此下載

閱讀中文字幕純文字版本

 

關於這場演講

烤麵包機需要整套文明才能製造完成。設計師 Thomas Thwaites歷經一番艱辛才學到這一點,他試著從零開始製造一台烤麵包機:採礦來煉鋼、從石油中提煉塑膠等。事實上,他所獲得的成果相當驚人。這對於我們相互連結的社會頗富寓意,無論是對設計師或消費者皆同。

 

關於Thomas Thwaites

Thomas Thwaites自稱是一位「較具冒險性」的設計師。

 

為什麼要聽他演講

Thomas Thwaites自稱是一位「較具冒險性」的設計師。他經深思熟慮的專案深入探討技術背後的科學,如在烤麵包機專案中,即讓他陷入冶金術、塑膠生產和規制基因的歷史和技術中,這是個纏繞在業餘遺傳學的思考實驗。我們不會提「Honeytrap」這個專案,情節為試圖透過一樁令人稍感不自在的自行車竊案探索現代罪案。他目前正進行一項專案,調查科學上違反事實的歷史,此專案由威爾康基金會贊助。

 

Thomas Thwaites的英語網上資料

首頁:thomasthwaites.com

 

[TED科技‧娛樂‧設計]

已有中譯字幕的TED影片目錄(繁體)(簡體)。請注意繁簡目錄是不一樣的。

 

Thomas Thwaites 談我如何製造烤麵包機-從零開始

 

如果看看四周,我們身邊的大多數東西,最初形式是埋在世界各地地底的各種岩石和礦泥。當然,它們現在看起來不像岩石和礦泥,而像電視攝影機、監視器、擾人的無線麥克風。所以這神奇的轉變,我正試著用在我的專案上,稱之為烤麵包機專案。這也是由於這句話的啟發,引用自Douglas Adams,場景來自《星際大奇航》一書。所描述的場景是,書中的英雄,一位20世紀男子,發現自己獨自來到一個陌生的星球,居住在只有原始技術的人類當中。他假想,嗯,他將成為這些村民的君主,用他所掌握的傑出技術、科技及原素改造他們的社會。但是,當然,瞭解到,沒有人類社會的其餘部分,他幾乎連個三明治都做不成,更別說烤麵包機了。但他沒有維基百科。

 

所以我想,好吧,我將試著從零開始製造一個烤麵包機。我運用的想法是,用最便宜的烤麵包機,進行反向工程也最簡單。我買了能找到的最便宜烤麵包機,把它帶回家,驚愕地發現,這個烤麵包機內部,我只花了3鎊94便士買它,有400個不同的零件,由超過一百種不同材料製成。我可不會用餘生來做這個項目,也許花9個月時間吧!所以我想,好吧,我將從五種材料開始,就是鋼、雲母、塑膠、銅和鎳。

 

從鋼開始:如何煉鋼?我拜訪了力拓集團主席,他任教於皇家礦業學院高級採礦系,我問說,「如何煉鋼?」Cilliers教授人很好,鉅細靡遺的告訴我。在我GCSE科學會考的模糊記憶中,嗯,鋼是由鐵煉得,所以我打電話到一個鐵礦區,說:「Hi,我想製造一台烤麵包機,我能向你們討一些鐵嗎?」不幸的是,當我到了那裡,現身的是Ray,他聽錯我的話,以為我來是為了想製作海報,所以沒準備帶我到礦區。但經過一番遊說後,我達成目的。

 

(影片)Ray:這是褶曲石灰岩,3億5000萬年前,在舒適、溫暖、充滿陽光的氣候之下,由海洋生物產生。當你研究地質學時可以看到過去發生的事,經歷了非常大的變化。

 

Thomas Thwaites:如你們所見,他們佈置了聖誕裝飾。當然,這不再是實際運作的礦區。因為,雖然Ray是個礦工,這個礦區已經關閉,且重新開放作為吸引遊客的景點。因為,當然,它經營的規模比不上南美洲、澳大利亞等地的礦區。總之,我拿到一皮箱鐵礦,坐火車將它拖回倫敦。然後問題來了。好吧,你如何讓這塊岩石變成烤麵包機的零件?

 

於是我又回頭找Cilliers教授,他說,「去圖書館查吧!」我照辦了。查閱大學的冶金術教科書對我要做的東西完全沒用,因為,當然,他們不會確實告訴你該怎麼做,如果你想靠自己來做的話,你沒有一座煉鋼廠。所以我最後到歷史科學圖書館查閱這本書,這是史上第一本冶金術教科書,至少以西方著作來說。你們看到的這個木刻畫,基本上就是我最後所用的方法,但我不是用風箱,我有個落葉清理機。(笑聲)在整個項目中重現的一點就是,想要以較小的規模運作,就必須使用更久遠年代的做法。這是熔這些鐵礦大約一天和半個晚上之後,我把產品拉出來,但它不是鐵。但幸運的是,我在網路上發現了一個專利,就是工業用微波爐。以最大火力熔30分鐘,我就能完成這個過程。

 

所以,下一步。(掌聲)下一步,我試著拿到銅礦。同樣的,這個礦區曾經是世上最大的銅礦區,但現在不是了。但我找到一位退休地質學教授帶我下來,他說,「好吧,我給你一些礦區中的水。」我之所以想拿到這些水,是因為這水流經礦區,變成帶有酸性,而能夠攜走並溶解礦區中的礦物,一個很好的例子就是位於葡萄牙的力拓礦業公司。如你們所見,有很多礦物質溶解其中,非常多,現在它成了細菌的家,它們相當喜歡酸性及毒性環境。總之,我從位於安格爾西島的礦區帶回的水,其中含有足量的銅,這樣我就能鑄造金屬插頭的導電片。

 

因此,下一步,我前往蘇格蘭取得雲母。雲母是一種礦物,是一種非常好的絕緣體,用於絕緣相當棒。這是我正在採雲母礦。我今天要談的最後一樣材料是塑膠。當然,我的烤麵包機必須有個塑膠外殼,塑膠是廉價電子產品的外觀特徵。塑膠來自於石油,所以我打電話給英國石油公司(BP),花了足足半小時,試圖說服BP的公關辦公室,如果他們帶我飛到石油鑽井平臺,讓我帶走一壺油,這對他們而言會是個奇妙的體驗,BP現在顯然有點興趣了。但即使如此,他們還是沒被說服。他們說,「好吧,我們會給你回電。」-根本沒有。所以我尋找其他製造塑膠的方法。事實上,你可以使用來自植物的油製造塑膠,但也可以由澱粉得來。這是嘗試製造馬鈴薯澱粉塑膠。有那麼一會兒,看起來相當不錯。我將它倒入模具,你們可以在影片上看到,這是我用樹幹製造的。有好一段時間,它看起來很不錯,但當我把它放在戶外,因為得將它放在戶外晾乾,不幸的是,當我回來時,蝸牛正吃著未水解的馬鈴薯部份。

 

我有點沮喪,決定從另一面來思考。事實上,地質學家命名,嗯,他們正討論是否要命名我們生存的這個時代,他們正討論是否要將其命名為一個新的地質時期,稱之為人類世,即人類的紀元。這是因為未來的地質學家,在目前沉積的岩層中將會看到一種急遽的轉變。突然間,它將帶有來自車諾比和自1945年以來就已設置2000多枚核彈的放射物;也可能會有滅絕事件,像化石突然消失。還有,我認為將會有合成聚合物,像是塑膠,嵌入岩石中。

 

而我到處尋找塑膠,所以我想,我能挖掘出一些這種「現代岩石」。我到曼徹斯特去,拜訪一個叫做Axion 回收場的地方,他們正處於所謂WEEE的第一線,即廢棄電子電機設備指令。這指令的實行就是嘗試處理那山一樣的東西。它們被製造後,在我們家中只使用不久就進掩埋場了,但,看影片吧!

 

(音樂)

 

(笑聲)

 

這是一張我烤麵包機的相片。(掌聲)這是它沒裝外殼的樣子,這是它放在貨架上的樣子,謝謝。

 

(掌聲)

 

Bruno Giussani:我說過你得真的插一次電。

 

TT:是啊,我確實插過電,我不知道你們能否看到,但我無法做成電線的絕緣外皮。Kew Gardens堅持,我不能傷害他們的橡膠樹,所以電線是沒有絕緣的,所以有240伏特電流通過這些自製的銅線、自製的插頭。大約有五秒鐘時間,烤麵包機運作了。但然後,不幸的是,銅線將它本身熔化了。但老實說,我認為這可以算部分成功。

 

BG: Thomas Thwaites(TT:謝謝)

 

以下為系統擷取之英文原文

About this talk

It takes an entire civilization to build a toaster. Designer Thomas Thwaites found out the hard way, by attempting to build one from scratch: mining ore for steel, deriving plastic from oil ... it's frankly amazing he got as far as he got. A parable of our interconnected society, for designers and consumers alike.

About Thomas Thwaites

Thomas Thwaites is a designer "of a more speculative sort," he says. Full bio and more links

Transcript

If we look around us, much of what surrounds us started life as various rocks and sludge buried in the ground in various places in the world. But, of course, they don't look like rocks and sludge now; they look like TV cameras, monitors, annoying radio mics. And so this magical transformation is what I was trying to get at with my project, which became known as the Toaster Project. And it was also inspired by this quote from Douglas Adams. And the situation is from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." And the situation it describes is the hero of the book -- he's a 20th century man -- finds himself alone on a strange planet populated only by a technologically primitive people. And he kind of assumes that, yes, he'll become -- these villagers -- he'll become their emperor and transform their society with his wonderful command of technology and science and the elements, but, of course, realizes that without the rest of human society, he can barely make a sandwich, let alone a toaster. But he didn't have Wikipedia.

So I thought, okay, I'll try and make an electric toaster from scratch. And, working on the idea that the cheapest electric toaster would also be the simplest to reverse-engineer, I went and bought the cheapest toaster I could find, took it home and was kind of dismayed to discover that, inside this object, which I'd bought for just three pounds, ninety-four, there are 400 different bits made out of a hundred-plus different materials. I didn't have the rest of my life to do this project; I had maybe nine months. So I thought, okay, I'll start with five. And these were steel, mica, plastic, copper and nickel.

So, starting with steel: how do you make steel? I went and knocked on the door of the Rio Tinto Chair of Advanced Mineral Extraction at the Royal School of Mines and said, "How do you make steel?" And Professor Cilliers was very kind and talked me through it. And my vague rememberings from GCSE science -- well, steel comes from iron, so I phoned up an iron mine. And said, "Hi, I'm trying to make a toaster. Can I come up and get some iron?" Unfortunately, when I got there -- emerges Ray. He had misheard me and thought I was coming up because I was trying to make a poster, and so wasn't prepared to take me into the mines. But after some nagging, I got him to do that.

(Video) Ray: It was Crease Limestone. And that was produced by sea creatures 350 million years ago in a nice, warm, sunny atmosphere. When you study geology, you can see what's happened in the past. And there were terrific changes.

Thomas Thwaites: As you can see, they had the Christmas decorations up. And of course, it wasn't actually a working mine anymore, because, though Ray was a miner there, the mine had closed and had been reopened as a kind of tourist attraction, because, of course, it can't compete on the scale of operations, which are happening is South America, Australia, wherever. But anyway, I got my suitcase of iron ore and dragged it back to London on the train, and then was faced with the problem: Okay, how do you make this rock into components for a toaster?

So I went back to Professor Cilliers, and he said, "Go to the library." So I did and was looking through the undergraduate textbooks on metallurgy -- completely useless for what I was trying to do. Because, of course, they don't actually tell you how to do it if you want to do it yourself and you don't have a smelting plant. So I ended up going to the History of Science Library and looking at this book. This is the first textbook on metallurgy written in the West at least. And there you can see that woodcut is basically what I ended up doing. But instead of a bellows, I had a leaf blower. (Laughter) And that was something that reoccurred throughout the project, was, the smaller the scale you want to work on, the further back in time you have to go. And so this is after a day and about half a night smelting this iron. I dragged out this stuff, and it wasn't iron. But luckily, I found a patent online for industrial furnaces that use microwaves. And 30 minutes at full power, and I was able to finish off the process.

So, my next -- (Applause) The next thing I was trying to get was copper. Again, this mine was once the largest copper mine in the world. It's not anymore, but I found a retired geology professor to take me down. And he said, "Okay, I'll let you have some water from the mine." And the reason I was interested in getting water is because water which goes through mines becomes kind of acidic and will start picking up, dissolving the minerals from the mine. And a good example of this is the Rio Tinto, which is in Portugal. As you can see, it's got lots and lots of minerals dissolved in it. So many such that it's now just a home for bacteria who really like acidic, toxic conditions. But anyway, the water I dragged back from the Isle of Anglesey where the mine was -- there was enough copper in it such that I could cast the pins of my metal electric plug.

So my next thing: I was off to Scotland to get mica. And mica is a mineral, which is a very good insulator and very good at insulating electricity. That's me getting mica. And the last material I'm going to talk about today is plastic. And of course, my toaster had to have a plastic case. Plastic is the defining feature of cheap electrical goods. And so plastic comes from oil, so I phoned up BP and spent a good half an hour trying to convince the PR office at BP that it would be fantastic for them if they flew me to an oil rig and let me have a jug of oil. BP obviously have a bit more on their mind now. But even then they weren't convinced and said, "Okay, we'll phone you back," -- never did. So I looked at other ways of making plastic. And you can actually make plastic from obviously oils which come from plants, but also from starches. So this is attempting to make potato starch plastic. And for awhile that was looking really good. I poured it into the mold, which you can see there, which I've made from a tree trunk. And it was looking good for awhile, but I left it outside, because you had to leave it outside to dry, and unfortunately I came back and there were snails eating the unhydrolyzed bits of potato.

So kind of out of desperation, I decided that I could think laterally. And geologists have actually christened -- well, they're debating whether to christen -- the age that we're living in -- they're debating whether to make it a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene, the age of Man. And that's because geologists of the future would kind of see a sharp shift in the strata of rock that is being laid down now. So suddenly, it will become kind of radioactive from Chernobyl and the 2,000 or so nuclear bombs that have been set off since 1945. And there'd also be an extinction event -- like fossils would suddenly disappear. And also, I thought that there would be synthetic polymers, plastics, embedded in the rock.

So I looked up a plastic -- so I decided that I could mine some of this modern-day rock. And I went up to Manchester to visit a place called Axion Recycling. And they're at the sharp end of what's called the WEED, which is this European electrical and electronic waste directive. And that was brought into force to try and deal with the mountain of stuff that is just being made and then living for a while in our homes and then going to landfill. But this is it.

(Music)

(Laughter)

So there's a picture of my toaster. (Applause) That's it without the case on. And there it is on the shelves. Thanks.

(Applause)

Bruno Giussani: I'm told you did plug it in once.

TT: Yeah, I did plug it in. I don't know if you could see, but I was never able to make insulation for the wires. Kew Gardens were insistent that I couldn't come and hack into their rubber tree. So the wires were uninsulated. So there was 240 volts going through these homemade copper wires, homemade plug. And for about five seconds, the toaster toasted, but then, unfortunately, the element kind of melted itself. But I considered it a partial success, to be honest.

BG: Thomas Thwaites. (TT: Thanks.)
 


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Hahaha!!

Anonymous, 2012-04-09 11:11:02
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workonet, 2011-03-09 11:53:19
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实在是太棒呢!
Anonymous, 2011-03-04 18:32:11

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