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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Circular carbon fiber loom

Circular carbon fiber loom: "

Lexus has developed a circular loom for weaving 3D objects out of carbon fiber. It's a pretty mesmerizing process.

Video of Lexus' 360-Degree Carbon Fiber Loom

(Thanks, Alpacaman!)


Golden-age short-change cons

Golden-age short-change cons: "While some of the techniques laid out in 'Tricks of Short Change Artists,' from the Oct, 1930 issue of Modern Mechanix may have shifted over the years, the principles remain largely unchanged. I could read about con artists all day long -- I've only been conned once (that I know about), but I still reel with the knowledge that someone managed to pull off a trick that combined conjuring, social engineering, and connivery to separate me from a small-to-mid-sized wad of cash.

Organized short-changing of filling station attendants is becoming common and it is evident that there are a great many artists engaged in this branch of the business. The tricks are many and varied. One favorite is to offer a twenty in payment of a bill. On getting the change, the stranger will count it over and discover that five or ten dollars are missing. The method is to fold over the five or ten and hold it between two fingers underneath another large bill in one hand, while asking the station attendant to count the change in the other hand. This trick has been the means of cheating a great many oil station men. The loss is # seldom discovered until check-up time at night.

Another method of making change appear 'short' a bill of any denomination is the use of a clever sleeve attachment. It is merely an elastic running up the coat sleeve; at the end is a spring paper-fastener. The con man merely sends one bill from his change up his sleeve, and the dealer can, of course, see no method of accounting for the loss excepting the most obvious one. that he has made a mistake!

Tricks of Short Change Artists (Oct, 1930)


Bob Jaroc's Black Moth Super Rainbow video using busted B/W teevees

Bob Jaroc's Black Moth Super Rainbow video using busted B/W teevees: "

Hypertalented filmmaker Bob Jaroc created this video for Black Moth Super Rainbow's track The Sticky. Yes, those are graphics generated by circuit bent television sets. The song is from Black Moth Super Rainbow's latest album, Eating Us.

Video made from modding a bunch of old b&w tvs, playing the seperate parts from the track through them and taping the results + a go on the aftereffects mystery train.

Bob Jaroc on Vimeo


Vintage Photos

Vintage Photos: "

'This rascal is my great uncle, in a photo from the 1940s or 1950s. It was taken in London.'

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Immortal Horizon

[Hey, not that far from us! On the way to SMS! -egg]
The Immortal Horizon: "

Probably the best thing you’ll read all day: a fantastic article by Leslie Jamison on the demented Barkley Marathons:

The runners’ bibs say something different each year: SUFFERING WITHOUT A POINT; NOT ALL PAIN IS GAIN. Only eight men have ever finished. The event is considered extreme even by those who specialize in extremity.

What makes it so bad? No trail, for one. A cumulative elevation gain that’s nearly twice the height of Everest. Native flora called saw briars that can turn a man’s legs to raw meat in meters. The tough hills have names like Rat Jaw, Little Hell, Big Hell, Testicle Spectacle—this last so-called because it inspires most runners to make the sign of the cross (crotch to eyeglasses, shoulder to shoulder)—not to mention Stallion Mountain, Bird Mountain, Coffin Springs, Zip Line, and an uphill stretch, new this year, known simply as “the Bad Thing.”

Related articles


The Tinkerer’s Handbook, Page 8 (of 8)

The Tinkerer’s Handbook, Page 8 (of 8): "


(Start from Page 1.)


Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Finch, a cute portable robot for teaching comp sci

The Finch, a cute portable robot for teaching comp sci: "

Meet The Finch, a $100 robot from Carnegie Mellon university designed to make computer science education more fun. From the press release:

A white plastic, two-wheeled robot with bird-like features, Finch can quickly be programmed by a novice to say 'Hello, World,' or do a little dance, or make its beak glow blue in response to cold temperature or some other stimulus. But the simple look of the tabletop robot is deceptive. Based on four years of educational research sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Finch includes a number of features that could keep students busy for a semester or more thinking up new things to do with it.

'Students are more interested and more motivated when they can work with something interactive and create programs that operate in the real world,' said Tom Lauwers, who earned his Ph.D. in robotics at CMU in 2010 and is now an instructor in the Robotics Institute's CREATE Lab. 'We packed Finch with sensors and mechanisms that engage the eyes, the ears -- as many senses as possible.'

'Our vision is to make Finch affordable enough that every student can have one to take home for assignments,' said Lauwers, who developed the robot with Illah Nourbakhsh, associate professor of robotics and director of the CREATE Lab. Less than a foot long, Finch easily fits in a backpack and is rugged enough to survive being hauled around and occasionally dropped.

You can buy them from the official homepage. []


Two months on

Two months on: "

The Economist has a report from the International Conference on Advances in Nuclear Power Plants of a plenary session discussing the Fukushima Daiichi accident: it's well worth reading.

The main highlights seem to be:

* The accident wasn't the result of a single disaster, but of two, and arguably three: earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent hydrogen explosions.

* The plan survived the earthquake (which exceeded its design requirements) quite well, and the reactors scrammed correctly. However, scrammed reactors continue to need power to run their cooling systems. The earthquake tore down the cables connecting the plant to the rest of the grid, forcing them onto backup power.

* The tsunami struck 15 minutes later, and was roughly five times higher than the plant had been designed for. A review of disaster preparedness in 2002 recommended raising "the average wave height they needed to be designed to cope with to about double the height of the biggest waves in the historical record" — 5.7 metres, for the FD plant. In the event, the tsunami that struck had 15 metre waves. It washed right over the plant and wrecked the seawater intakes, electrical switchgear, backup generators, and on-site diesel storage.

* The 2002 severe accident review that increased the tsunami wave height estimates recommended installing hardened hydrogen release vents, to prevent a build-up of hydrogen in event of a similar accident. These are standard on American and other reactors, but had not been retrofitted to the FD BWRs. Were such vents fitted, the explosions would not have occurred. (The explosions compounded the difficulty of bringing the plant under control.)

* Despite all this there appears to have been no public health impact due to radiation (stress and fear are another matter), and no plant workers were exposed to more than 250 millisieverts — the raised limit for emergency nuclear responders, equal to five years' regular working exposure, but insufficient to cause a serious helath risk.

So: serious accident, yes — but it's no Chernobyl. (Go read the article. It's good.) The main take-away seems to be that, like a plane crash, it takes more than one thing going wrong to cause an accident — in this case, two major natural disasters, each of which exceeded the plant's design spec, occurring within the space of an hour, compounded by failure to implement a safety system that is standard elsewhere. Despite which, they managed to dodge the bullet (for the most part: it's still going to take billions of dollars and several years to clean up the plant).


Kinect and 3D printer turns people into action-figure souvenirs

Kinect and 3D printer turns people into action-figure souvenirs: "

Barcelona's Blablablab set up a 'Be Your Own Souvenir installation that used a Kinect and a 3D printer to allow passersby to pose for on-demand action-figures of themselves and their night out on the town: 'The project uses custom software developed using openKinect and openFrameworks. To create an army figurine style souvenir, visitors use 3 kinect sensors to create a 360-degree scan which creates input pointclouds. Meshlab then uses these combined pointclouds to create a Poisson reconstruction, which is cleaned up via Blender and Skeinforge before being fed into a cnc machine (Rapman 3.1), which prints out the souvenir. Voila! Now, seriously, check out the pics and video of it in action on the next page!'

Be Your Own Souvenir by blablabLAB - 04.08.11

(via Geisha Asobi)


Cut Chair optical illusion

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Cut Chair optical illusion

Peter Bristol's "Cut Chair" is an optical illusion sculpture that uses a hidden steel plate beneath the unsevered leg to provide a stable base for a seemingly sawn-through chair.

Cut Chair

(via Neatorama)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Rusty Technoporn Of Nuclear Russia

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The Rusty Technoporn Of Nuclear Russia

Two lovely photo-essays at English Russia today.

The Base Of Human Exterminators shows a missile complex that's been turned into a museum.

The fuel filler's suit. The rocket fuel is one of the strongest poisons: a drop of it on the skin entails the death.

The Place That Stalkers Would Love To Visit illustrates a half-built and abandoned Missile Division command post.

The sphere was designed to enable survival during a nuclear war.  A hollow metal ball was built inside a large mine. Then a huge 4-story module block was suspended on huge shock absorbers inside of it. It contained control and communications equipment, life support systems and rest rooms.

Related articles

Thermochromic pissoir

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Thermochromic pissoir

This unsourced photo depicts a thermochromic communinal urinal that allows gentlemen (and suitably trained ladies) to paint psychedelic rainbows on its surface using only the steaming fury of their piss-streams.

Thermochromic urinal

(via Neatorama)