May 6, 2014

Top 10 Most Remarkable Engineers of All Time

Top 10 Most Remarkable Engineers of All Time

1. Leonardo da Vinci


Perhaps the biggest visionary of all time, Leonardo foresaw everything from the helicopter to the tank to the submarine. Modern engineers have proven that many of his designs, including bridges, hang-gliders, transmissions, parachutes, and more would have worked had they been built. There have been few individuals in the history of engineering who have designed so many revolutionary devices that actually worked. For having this remarkable vision and intelligence, Leonardo qualifies as the most remarkable engineer of all time.

2. Thomas Edison


Edison is the most prolific inventor in history, holding a record 1,097 patents. He developed the phonograph, incandescent light bulb, stock ticker, motion picture camera and projector, and hundreds more. He also created the first electrical plant and distribution infrastructure. Without these inventions, modern life is almost inconceivable.

3. Henry Ford


Henry Ford realized that he would a more efficient way to mass produce cars in order to lower the price. He looked at other industries and found four principles that would further their goal: interchangeable parts, continuous flow, division of labor, and reducing wasted effort. Ford put these principles into play gradually over five years, fine-tuning and testing as he went along. In 1913, they came together in the first moving assembly line ever used for large-scale manufacturing. Ford produced cars at a record-breaking rate forever changing the automobile industry.

4. Wilbur and Orville Wright


Before Wilbur and Orville discovered what would later become the safest mode of transport, they were bicycle mechanics with a passion for kite-flying. The crucial insights from both fields would later propel them to victory in the race to the sky.

Most prototypes of the time could not stay in the air long enough after taking off. The Wright brothers however understood that stability was crucial in overcoming this challenge. After several experiments using kites and gliders, they created a pulley system that altered the shape of the wing in mid-flight, increasing and decreasing the speeds. The Wright brothers were also the first to look at propeller design and aerodynamics, profoundly changing the world.

5. Hero of Alexandria


This man could have started the Industrial Revolution in 50 AD with the invention of the Aeolipile, a form of steam or jet engine where jets of steam spin a ball. However, he failed to realize what the device could do, and thought of it as nothing but a toy. Some have speculated that the abundance of slave labor negated any need for a labor-saving device, so no one applied his device in the manner of the Industrial Revolution. Hero also wrote many works on subjects ranging from pneumatics to mathematics to physics.

6. James Watt


James Watt was an enthusiastic inventor whose improvement of the steam engine sparked the Industrial Revolution. During the 1760s he devoted most of his time to improving the efficiency of steam engines. The result was a machine that become very popular that Watt is sometimes mischaracterized as the inventor of the steam engine. Watt’s many mechanical advances earned him several patents, and his engines were used for coal mining, textile manufacturing, transportation and a host of other industrial uses.

The watt unit of power is named after James Watt. He is credited for measuring the power of his steam engine: his test with a strong horse resulted in his determination that a “horsepower” was 550 foot-pounds per second. Subsequent calculation by Watt resulted in one horsepower equaling 746 watts.

7. Archimedes


It was Archimedes who came up with the simple yet clever idea of determining an object’s volume by measuring the amount of water displaced by the object. Other inventions credited to him include the catapult, levers and pulleys, and the Archimedean Screw, a device used to raise water for irrigation or mining.

According to some legends he was instrumental in defending his native Syracuse from Romans by his clever use of machines to keep enemies at siege. He also calculated an approximation for pi and developed many mathematical insights without which modern engineering would be impossible.

8. Nikola Tesla


Every electrical engineer should have a picture of Nikola tattooed somewhere on their bodies. Maybe not a tattoo but at least have a picture of him hanging in their office. Tesla’s inventions make him arguably the greatest electrical engineer of all time. His inventions include fluorescent lighting, the Tesla coil, the induction motor, and 3-phase electricity. He developed the AC-current generation system comprised of a motor and a transformer.

Tesla moved to America in 1884 to work with Thomas Edison, another remarkable engineer. Within weeks of working for Edison, he indicated that he could improve the efficiency of the company’s generators by 25%. Edison promised Tesla a $50,000 bonus if he achieved this feat. Within weeks Tesla delivered on his promise – and Edison reneged on his, telling young Tesla, “You don’t understand our American humor.”

9. Nicolaus Otto


Nicolaus Otto was a German inventor credited with developing the four-stroke or Otto-cycle engine which sparked the development of the motor care. His Otto-cycle engine worked in four steps; drawing in fuel and air, compressing the mixture, igniting it and expelling the exhaust. This Otto-cycle is still used in the internal combustion engines that run all of our cars today.

Despite having developed the engine, it was Otto’s peers such as Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz who made practical applications of the technology, forever changing how people move all over the world.

10. Alan Turing


Every time you use a computer, it is in part because Alan Turing made significant contributions to make computing possible. Alan Turing developed the binary architecture now used in all computers, as well as much of the theory behind computers.

He is regarded by some as the father of computer science. He is also credited with breaking the German Enigma code during WWII, which made victory possible. In the years following the war he made numerous contributions in software creation. Time magazine named him as one of the most important people of the 20th century.

Apr 21, 2014

10 best auto insurance companies: 2014 customer satisfaction rankings

10 best auto insurance companies: 2014 customer satisfaction rankings


USAA, State Farm and Farmers earned the highest scores from both auto and home insurance customers in’s annual customer satisfaction study. It is USAA’s third year as the highest-rated auto and home insurer in the survey.’s 2014 survey spanned 3,835 current customers of 15 large insurers in auto, home and health insurance, and 14 in life insurance. Ratings are based on five measurements:
• Customer service
• Claims satisfaction
• Value for price paid
• Percent who plan to renew
• Percent who would recommend the company

In the auto insurance category, USAA scored well across the board but did particularly well in measurements for renewal (95 percent of customers surveyed said they planned to renew) and recommendations (84 percent have or would recommend USAA). The insurer sells only to members of the military and their families.
State Farm and Farmers also garnered strong scores in all auto insurance measurements but were outpaced by USAA in renewal and recommendation ratings.

Making decisions
We also asked customers their reasons for deciding to buy from their insurers. Flo is paying off: Progressive has the highest number of customers who made their decision based on seeing a TV commercial (18 percent), followed closely by Allstate (17 percent) and Geico (16 percent). USAA had the lowest percentage of customers (4 percent) who chose the company based on a commercial.

Methodology conducted surveys of 3,835 insurance customers nationwide in February and March 2014 to collect 9,586 company reviews. Only current customers of the insurers on our lists were surveyed. The survey was not open to the general public on the website. We collected reviews for auto, home, health and life insurance carriers. Consumers answered questions about their levels of satisfaction with their insurers, and each answer was assigned a point value. Points were then averaged and totaled for each company.
A.M. Best ratings do not affect the scores but are provided as a supplementary resource. The “discounts” and “coverage options” information for auto insurance carriers also does not affect the scores.
We collected data for 15 large companies in each category, so not all companies are represented in the study. The companies for which we collected data were then ranked. The top three companies in each category earned's "People's Choice Award." In the life insurance category, a tie for third place resulted in four insurers receiving the award.

Overall score: 93.9
Claims processing: 4.5 stars
Customers who recommend: 83%

2. State Farm
Overall score: 92.7
Claims processing: 4.5 stars
Customers who recommend: 81%

3. Farmers
Overall score: 91.5
Claims processing: 4.5 stars
Customers who recommend: 74%

Overall score: 91.1
Claims processing: 4.5 stars
Customers who recommend: 75%

5. Auto Club of Southern California
Overall score: 90.5
Claims processing: 4.5 stars
Customers who recommend: 81%

6. Nationwide
Overall score: 90.5
Claims processing: 4.5 stars
Customers who recommend: 76%

7. Liberty Mutual
Overall score: 90.2
Claims processing: 4 stars
Customers who recommend: 74%

8. Allstate
Overall score: 90
Claims processing: 4 stars
Customers who recommend: 78%

9. American Family
Overall score: 89.5
Claims processing: 4 stars
Customers who recommend: 76%

10. The Hartford
Overall score: 89
Claims processing: 4 stars
Customers who recommend: 76%

Apr 18, 2014

Top tips for a healthy pregnancy – Part 1

Top tips for a healthy pregnancy – Part 1

Pregnancy is a very important phase in a woman’s life, not only for her, but also for the unborn child. It is in the woman’s interest to make this journey safe and healthy to achieve the end result of a healthy baby.


Top tips for healthy pregnancy

Here are some pointers to make sure you achieve his goal.

  1. If you think you are pregnant or even if you plan to get pregnant, plan a visit to your doctor and make sure you are doing everything right to conceive; from eating the right food to avoiding alcohol and smoking. Even being in a smoke filled room is an absolute no. If you are pregnant, you may be required to take supplements in addition to your food. Vitamins like folic acid, iron, calcium and even multi-vitamins are sometimes needed to fill in the gaps. Folic acid, in particular is very important in the initial stages to prevent neurological problems in the baby.
  2. Make sure to discuss your food habits with your doctor. You may be advised to include cereals like ragi, whole wheat, jowar or bajra in your diet as well as fresh fruits and vegetables. It is a good idea to reduce processed food, junk food, fried food and sweetmeats as they tend to have empty calories that increase your weight but do not supply essential elements that the body needs. The importance of a balanced diet during pregnancy cannot be emphasized enough.
  3. If you have countless cups of coffee in a day, cut back now. All caffeine containing beverages should beminimised or preferably stopped. Substitute with green tea or low fat milk with honey.
  4. Talk to your doctor about how much weight you should gain during the course of your pregnancy. If you are underweight, you should put on twelve to eighteen kilos during the nine months, but if you are overweight, ten kilos is the upper limit.
  5. Learn to do Kegel’s exercises. This set of exercises increases the tone of the vaginal and perineal muscles and eases the pain during labour and delivery. Another important aspect and means to control pain is by learning the correct way to breathe. Lamaze is a form of breathing that you and your partner can learn and practise so ensure a smooth labour.

Some hospitals and nursing homes encourage you to attend antenatal classes where all these aspects are covered and you are encouraged to ask questions and erase your doubts.

In the next part we’ll tell you more about the types of birth, medications and lifestyle changes that may have to make once the child arrives.


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