In Watch on March 10, 2011 at 7:19 am
Neil Monday is a software developer who was on a commercial flight out of Orlando National Airport on February 24th. His window seat afforded him a spectacular view of the Space Shuttle Discovery’s final launch:
The video really gives you a sense of the power. A parabolic path for a projectile seems so natural (Angry Birds!), but the shuttle just keeps going up.
Also, the shuttle coming up out of the cloud cover looks an awful lot like the Delta 2 rocket that we looked at last summer.
Via: The Atlantic, via Cosmic Log
In Read, View on March 8, 2011 at 7:03 am
Last August, Keith Peters took a look at the Kindle and iPad screens under a microscope. I’m only getting to it now, but a month later when the Kindle 3 came out he gave it the same treatment:
- Kindle 2. Photo by Keith Peters.
- Kindle 3. Photo by Keith Peters.
“Pretty easy to see that the K3 is darker and crisper. But to the naked eye, I feel the effect is even more stunning. The screensaver photos themselves are rendered beautifully. I’d still like some new ones, but even as bored as I am with the, the first few times I saw them, I had to stare a while.”
My friend Ryan loves his Kindle, but he found a drawback on a recent plane flight:
“sir please turn off your book for take off.” Never thought I’d hear that. The only downside of a Kindle.
In Watch on March 6, 2011 at 9:53 pm
The World of Technology blog has a post from last August called “Complicated Mechanisms Explained in simple animations.” Pretty self-explanatory:
Maltese Cross Mechanism, used in clocks to power the second hand movement.
Also excellent in the post are the animations of a manual transmission mechanism and the constant velocity joint.
In Watch on February 17, 2011 at 7:23 am
Via Popular Science, here is a video from two researchers at Cal Tech. It shows water droplets bouncing off a surface made of carbon nanotubes:
The surface is superhydrophobic, which is to say that it repels water to an extreme degree. From the PopSci page:
Hydrophobic materials have all kinds of practical applications, from creating surfaces that never have to be cleaned to making supertankers and container ships glide more efficiently through the water.
In Read on February 3, 2011 at 7:29 am
At some point each year Popular Mechanics names the winners of what they call their “Backyard Genius” awards. They tend to be DIY engineering projects that sometimes are carried out on a pretty impressive scale. 2010’s awards were announced in September, and Jeremy Reid is included for his homemade roller coaster:
A 16-foot drop propels the car to 18 mph; the rider then zips over another hill, down the sloping backyard and around a 50-degree bank that pulls 2 g’s. Nearly 1 minute and 450 feet after the initial drop, the car returns to the lift. Reid estimates he spent $10,000 on the project—though it paid off by helping him lock down a post-college job with coaster design company Arrow Dynamics (now S&S Arrow).
Jeremy Reid's backyard roller coaster. Photo by Chris Buck.
The other Backyard Geniuses can be found here, and they include a guy who built a tandem unicycle.
In Read, Watch on January 26, 2011 at 7:34 am
Wired.com has the behind the scenes on this DieHard Battery commercial featuring Gary Numan:
Over three days in the desert, a team of six engineers worked on 24 cars and removed the batteries from each. Instead, they connected them all together to a central computer and a keyboard. The horns inside the cars were removed and instead an MP3 player was used to tune it. The entire set-up was hooked to one DieHard battery.
Numan is playing his 1979 hit song “Cars.”
In Watch on January 14, 2011 at 7:16 am
Make: Online unearthed this classic clip of legendary pianist Herbie Hancock demoing a Fairlight CMI electric synthesizer on Sesame Street in the early 1980s:
The little girl whose voice he samples at 1:30 is Tatyana Ali, who went on to play the role of Ashley Banks in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
In Read, Watch on January 5, 2011 at 7:34 am
The Madden NFL franchise is one of the best-selling video games of all time. ESPN’s Outside the Lines took an in-depth look at the history of the game, including the early development of the concept:
The biggest pain was conceptual: What was a football simulation supposed to look like? How should it play? “Football” on the Atari 2600 console featured three-man teams composed of players who resembled and moved like ambulatory kitchen appliances. Everything was new: play-calling boxes; an “oomph” (read: turbo) button. Ybarra tried a TV-style camera angle. Finding holes at the line of scrimmage proved impossible. He switched to the god’s-eye, end zone perspective still used in today’s games. The game played better, but it still looked like bleeding Lego blocks.
Not really Jocks vs. Nerds. Instead, it’s Jocks + Nerds = $3 billion.
I can’t find video of the original 1989 version, but here’s the difference 20 years makes, with gameplay footage from 1992 and 2011:
In Watch on January 4, 2011 at 7:07 am
Linus Akesson built an 8-bit synthesizer into an old electric organ:
All the original tone-generating parts have been disconnected, and the keys, pedals, knobs and switches rerouted to a microcontroller which transforms them into MIDI signals. Those are then parsed by a second microcontroller, which acts as a synthesizer.
Here’s Linus running through some of the features of his “Chipophone”:
His presentation video above lasts over seven minutes, but he gets right to the point at 0:24, demonstrating exactly why this DIY project is so great. (Also: Tetris at 2:22, Commando at 3:34, and MegaMan 2 at 5:30)
In Read on September 29, 2010 at 7:31 am
Burt Foster is a bladesmith who lives in Virginia and makes blades by hand. He is one of only 114 people in the world with the title “Master Bladesmith.”
Foster works mostly by hand, spending between six and 50 hours on each creation. “Knifemaking is not like punching a clock,” Foster says. “There are no templates or patterns. Very little of what I do is ever repeated exactly.”
Bladesmith Burt Foster. Photo by Popular Mechanics.
Click on the photo or the link for an interactive graphic looking at Foster’s gear.