Patents for Fun and Research


Included in this post are search engines and portals where you have free access to patent documents from all over the world. They are best used for locating a patent document or full citation for an item you already know about. The tools listed in this post are not intended to research patentability or prior-art searching.

There is a very easy to use Google Advanced Patent Search. This is the portal I used to link to the Rubik’s Cube patent image in this post. All I needed was the patent number!

The Feldberg Engineering librarians have written this  excellent overview of patent search that includes comments on prior art search, how to read a patent, and valuation of patents.

Other places you might search for patents are

  •  Ei Patents which offers sophisticated search and retrieval tools across all patents registered with the U.S. and European Patent Offices.
  • esp@cenet  - international patents, patent families
  • Freshpatents  - the latest published US patent applications each week,
  • keyword monitoring, RSS feeds, browse by location.
  • USPTO Patent Database   - full-text since 1976, full-page images since 1790
  • WikiPatents  - contributes to the US patent system by reviewing issued patents and pending patent applications; features a wiki-like interface to review, rate, and discuss patents

You can always request copies of patents from DartDoc, or ask your librarian for assistance in locating them.

And for a little more fun, check out Patently Apple. Patently Apple is a long time commentator and speculator of all things Apple done by watching public patent applications, legal filings and more.

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Dartmouth Ski Tramway

It seems that once again ski season is upon us. Long regarded as a favorite New England skiing and snowboarding destination, New Hampshire boasts a hearty twenty-two skiing areas and resorts. Dartmouth, in extension, is consistently ranked as the preferred college for skiers and winter outdoorsman alike. Dartmouth claims 13% of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and has competed in every Winter Olympic Games since the first games in Chamonix in 1924.

Just how did Dartmouth get to be so popular amongst skiers? Well, our new exhibit, Innovation on the Slopes: The Early Years of Skiing at Dartmouth explores the beginnings of this cozy relationship, on display in Baker-Berry Library this week through March. One of our favorite items from the exhibit is Fredrick Bryon Tomlinson's design and computation sketches for the J-bar at the Oak Hill Ski Area. The Oak Hill Ski Area opened in 1935 right off Reservoir Road in Hanover. When it debuted, the "Dartmouth Ski Tramway," as it was termed, was credited as the nation's first overhead lift. The tow transported 600 skiers per hour up 350 feet. The design included an 80 horsepower engine and a 6-foot wheel weighing 1,600 lbs. As the story goes, in the early 1930s, Dan Hatch, who was the General Manager of the Dartmouth Outing Club  got the idea for the lift from a winter sports pamphlet on the J-Bar lift at Davos, Switzerland, patented by Zurich engineer Ernest Constam. He then commissioned F. Bryon Tomlinson '35 Th '36 to design the Oak Hill Ski Tow under the direction of Professor William P. Kimball, then Dean of the Thayer School of Engineering. Though the project was eventually passed on to the Split Ballbearing Corporation in Lebanon to pioneer the actual implementation of the job, the Oak Hill is considered the first U.S. lift with power from the rear instead of traction from the front. Of course, it wasn’t soon before improved ski-lifts appeared all over the Eastern ski region, but according to the DOC website, Oak Hill continued to be Dartmouth's primary alpine slope until the Dartmouth Skiway was established in the mid-’50s. The sketches are just a few of the many interesting items in the exhibit, including a trailer from the upcoming documentary on Dartmouth ski culture, Passion for Skiing.

If you want to check out Tomlinson's designs for yourself, ask for Manuscript 936940.3. For more information on Oak Hill, ask for either the Oak Hill vertical file or the Oak Hill photo file. And be sure to stop and check out the Innovation on the Slopes exhibit now on display through March in Baker-Berry Library.

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Cutting Corners (Or Not)

Corners have always been a challenge for me. I think it’s one of those skills you’re either really good at, or you’re always trying to get it just right. When I do get a perfect corner it is a highly satisfying feeling. For most of my bookbinding career I’ve always done the "45 degree cut a board thickness away" treatment (do the top turn-in, tuck in the little extra at the foredge, and then do the side turn-in). But, when I was at Paper and Book Intensive a few years ago taking a class with Gabrielle Fox (my first teacher when I was in college) she showed me a slight variation.
First: make the 45 degree cut one board's thickness away from the corner.
After making your 45 degree cut, make another cut parallel to the top edge of the board.
After you turn-in the top, fold the little tab down along the edge of the board (much like a box corner).
Then you do your side turn-in. The result is a much cleaner and sharper corner. It just goes to show you how you can always learn from your teachers, even after you become a teacher yourself!
Another useful corner, which sometimes goes unappreciated, is the Library Corner, sturdy and straightforward, with no cutting involved. Glue down the corner of your cloth centered evenly along the board. Crease the cloth along the edges to make sure it is well adhered.
Then, simply turn-in the sides. A little shaping and pressing make this a handsome, workhorse corner.

Written by Deborah Howe.

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Art Exhibit at the Matthews-Fuller Health Sciences Library

Flower MarketCut-Paper Drawings by C. A. Santa Maria on display until April 1, 2013

Artist Statement: 
C. A. Sanat Maria
My papers come from around the globe:  made of mulberry bark, rice, silk.  It can be smooth, transparent, subtle, screeching.  Paper allows me to add and take away at the same time.  I have worked with paper long enough that I can sense where it “wants” to go.  Sometimes it falls into place in ways I would not have imagined and thereby changed the mood of the art.

After living in Togo from 1972-1975 I returned to Vermont for several months before leaving for Cuernavaca, Mexico where I remained for the next 20 years.

Mexican and African cultures thrive on personal connections.  Mexico’s artisans are among the most diverse in the world:  paper makers, potters, silversmiths, embroiders, mask makers, lacquer-workers, wood carvers.  The patterns, collections of goods and the ability to speak to and work directly with Mexican craftspeople led me on a journey Mexicans call a “life of many turns.”  The wide richness of colors in people, their clothing, plants, wildlife, market-place foods and spices endlessly filled my senses. There is a wonderful pandemonium of life in Mexico and West Africa that calls to me.  That cacophony of colors, sounds, smells still fills my senses and flows into my art.  Major influences have been Huichol yarn paintings:  the techniques the Huichol use to outline figures and how they compose apparent “chaotic” themes that come from visions and dreams.  This “art” for the Huichol is their prayer.  Evident in my work too are the intense colors of the Gullah people, their flowing skylines and endless seas.  The poetry of their language and daily lives is clear in the movement of their art.

I received my MA from Dartmouth but I learned how to be a human being in West Africa and Mexico.  These cultures allow differences that embrace life on a scale that nurtures the most “human” parts of our beings.

More about C. A. Santa Maria:

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Kresge To Be Open Longer Hours

Welcome back!

You asked, we listened …

Every so often we get suggestions and requests in our suggestion box at Kresge (it’s outside the front door), and one of the most regular requests is for Kresge to be open longer hours.   So, we’re happy to announce that beginning with this term, Kresge Library will be open until 1am Sunday through Thursday nights (an hour later than previously). In addition, we’re going to be open an additional two hours on Saturday evenings, till 10pm (no change on Friday nights).  We’ll be giving this a trial over winter and spring terms, and will evaluate it after spring term to see whether it’s as popular as we hope it will be.

So, bring your laptops and your lab notebooks, your headphones and your calculators, – we’re open for business!   (actually, if you forget your headphones or your calculator, … you can borrow ours!  We lend ‘em out, along with other useful things like laptop chargers, protractors, and the ever-popular molecular model kit.   :-)

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Tools for Annotating Your PDFs!

Welcome to the new year! An important part of “doing research” is reading the literature to learn what others in the field have already done. It’s easy to read the paper and then forget what you’ve just read. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to take notes in (aka annotate) your PDFs? Well, you can! Here are a few options (platform independent):

Adobe Reader X or XI

With the latest versions of Adobe Reader, you can highlight text and add virtual sticky notes to the PDF. This is especially useful with PDFs that are downloaded from databases or produced by LaTeX. The latest version has expanded annotation capabilities: “Reader XI comes with a full set of commenting tools. So you can add sticky notes, highlight text, and use lines, shapes, stamps, and a typewriter tool to place comments anywhere on your PDF document.”


If you are also looking for a reference manager, Mendeley is a great option. It allows you to export bibliographies/reference lists, organize your PDFs/citations and share your notes, papers, and annotations! You can add sticky notes and highlight text directly in the PDF. This here is a good comparison chart of common reference managers.


From their website: “nb is an annotation taking tool developed by the Haystack Group at CSAIL. Students and Faculty can use nb to annotate arbitrary PDF files online, in a collaborative fashion.” This video gives a great introduction to using nb:

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Oh, the Weather Outside is Frightful….

It was COLD this morning, and even colder yesterday, but an old time New Englander might pooh-pooh that with a "Hey, when I was a kid, there were weeks in January when we never saw the warm side of zero." Would he be remembering correctly? Am I really becoming a weather wimp?

Luckily, Rauner has an extremely good set of weather records and observations, dating back to Ebenezer Adams, Jr.'s first entry in November 1827. And, by the way, Adams recorded that in 1835, it was 32 degrees below zero on January 4th, so I guess we should stop complaining.

Some of the weather records are official recordings taken on various instruments at Shattuck Observatory. Others have been recorded and compiled by volunteer observers. Professor of Astronomy Richard Goddard was often a recorder at the observatory. His report from a particularly cloudy January 50 years ago, shows his delight at a "Clear day!" Goddard also used the records to compile mean temperatures and precipitation totals over the course of decades; the files contain many of his charts, graphs and tables.

None of these were very useful to a researcher who once came in to use our meteorological records to determine the change in climate on campus after coeducation was implemented, but if you ever get to wondering just how windy it was in Hanover during the hurricane of 1938, or how much snow fell here during the Great Blizzard of 1888, or if that old timer was right about weeks of subzero temps, Rauner might just have the documents you need.

Ask for The Shattuck Observatory Records, DA-9. A finding aid is available.

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Dartmouth in the Rose Bowl?

In 1937, Dartmouth was a major college football powerhouse and was invited to play Cal in the Rose Bowl on January 1st--and Dartmouth turned it down. It is hard to imagine both sides of that sentence: Dartmouth invited to the Rose Bowl? A major college football program turning down "the granddaddy of them all"? Presumably the payout wasn't quite the equivalent of the $22.3 million that Wisconsin and Stanford will reportedly each collect for participating this year.

Dartmouth went undefeated in 1937 with six wins and two ties. According to the 1938 Aegis, "pre-season predictions of the gridsters went no further than the term 'dark-horse,'" but the team made up for scant experience with speed and strength.

President Ernest Hopkins response to the Rose Bowl invitation is a testament to his view of student athletes:

To carry our football season over until the first of the year and end it up with the distractions of a jaunt across the continent and return, would force us into the position where all members of the team would be penalized in lower grades, which they inevitably would get and which might endanger the academic standing of some of them, or else put us into the position of having to extend special privilege to members of the team in the consideration which should be given to them.

In other words, it might hurt the young men's studies.  The same year, Hopkins declined an offer by the Chicago Bears to play a benefit game for Chicago's Hull House at Wrigley or Soldier Field.

Interestingly, the school's worry about the disruptive nature of post season athletics did not carry over to other sports: in 1942, Dartmouth reached the finals of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

To see the letters, ask for the "Athletics" file from DP-11, Box 6980.

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Not "A Christmas Carol"

Everybody knows the classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and the three ghosts of Christmas whose visitations cause the former miser and all around misanthrope to reform. The other novellas of Christmas penned by Charles Dickens have not stood the test of time as well, perhaps due to lack of such memorable characters like old Mr. Fezziwig.

The first followup to A Christmas Carol (London: Chapman & Hall, 1843) was The Chimes (London: Chapman and Hall, 1845). Despite the inevitable happy ending, this story is a bleaker, more pointed critique of social issues of the 1840s. The goblins in the tale offer the main character glimpses of his family's potential future - each an illustration of how seemingly good people can become trapped in a cycle of evil.

The Cricket On The Hearth (London: Bradbury and Evans, 1846) is the third in the sequence. After several trials and tribulations, the spirit of the hearth cricket reminds the various characters of their potential for good and the futility of suspecting the worst of others.

The Battle Of Life (London: Bradbury & Evans, 1846) omits the supernatural elements of the first three tales and instead focuses on the selfless acts of the daughters of the cynical Doctor Jeddler. Their devotion and caring brings about a change in his view of the world.

The final novella is The Haunted Man And The Ghost's Bargain (London: Bradbury & Evans, 1848). In this story, Dickens reenlists the aid of a supernatural entity to bring about the redemption of the main character whose initial bargain with his ghostly double to remove all painful memories brings calamity on all others he interacts with as they are also shorn of any unwanted thoughts, leaving them thoughtless and cruel. The lost memories and human feeling of all are returned through the inherent goodness of Milly Swidger whose own painful memories are the source of her benevolence.

Ask for Rare Book PR 4557 .C58 1843 (A Christmas Carol), Rare Book PR 4557 .C5 1845 (The Chimes), Rare Book PR 4572 .C78 1846 (The Cricket On The Hearth), Val 826 D55 O53 (The Battle Of Life), and Rare Book PR 4557 .H3 1848 (The Haunted Man and The Ghost's Bargain).  

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8 Math Talks to Blow Your Mind

We may all be going on holiday break, but if you are like me, learning does not stop. This new list of TED math talks are both educational and fun to watch. You needn’t be a mathematician to enjoy them, really.  :-)

Supplemented here are a handful of books from our library collection or other content that is written by the video presenters.

Ron Eglash African fractals : modern computing and indigenous design Baker Berry GN650 .E35 1999

More about Dennis Wildfogel and his video How big is infinity?

Margaret Wertheim

Mandelbrot – Way too many library books to list

And for something to read when most of the libraries are closed, check out Kresge’s popular science collection of books on the shelf or browse it online.

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