Design and Construction of a Ferrofluid Kinetic Art Clock; Investigation of Specific Social Media Features that Unethically Exacerbate User Engagement

Dixon, Alexander, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Garner, Gavin, EN-Mech & Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Neeley, Kathryn, University of Virginia

My technical report involved finishing and polishing a “ferrofluid clock”; it is a digital clock that uses magnetic liquid to display the time. The clock consists of four digits, each with seven motor-magnet assemblies arranged to resemble the number “eight.” The servo motors are used to push the permanent magnets toward vials of the ferrofluid, and the liquid takes the shape of the magnets. One of the largest changes to the clock was the redesigning of the translation mechanism. The previous mechanism included a two-arm linkage and guide rails to force the servo motor to move the permanent magnet in a linear fashion. However, the magnets would often get caught on the guide rails and become stuck. My group scrapped this mechanism and designed a smoother, more reliable rack-and-pinion system to replace it. We also built a new enclosure for the clock as a whole since the construction of the last one was rushed.
My STS research improved understanding around specific features of social media platforms which are made to keep users engaged. The research specifically addressed several of those features as well as why they exist and how they affect users. I approached the research by identifying some of the most relevant actors, analyzing the connections between them, and speculating on the motivations and reasons behind certain choices. Most of the current studies surrounding social media, the internet, and their psychological effects on people are much higher level; very few studies exist on the effects of particular features. This is an important area of research because it is relevant to anyone who uses social media, but is often overlooked. Readers of this research paper will be better able to assess their relationships with the social media platforms that they frequent and use them in a healthier manner.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
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