All the episodes
of The Secret Life of Machines
are available online. Created by engineer, artist, tinkerer and cartoonist Tim Hunkin
, the show took a look at the science and mechanics behind common household objects, with a bit of social history, homemade laboratory experiments, and downplayed humor. The series grew out of a long-running strip, which Hunkin has now offers as his own cartoon encyclopedia
. You can also try some experiments
of your own, marvel at the coin-operated contraptions
he made for the Under the Pier Show
in Suffolk (don't miss the film
), and read his thoughts
about his brief foray into the fine art world and his ruminations
about how art and engineering mix.
posted by hydrophonic
on Jan 5, 2007 -
Peter Watts on Vampire Domestication (embedded Flash video, must click to start).
The mythical corporation FizerPharm ("Trust. Profit. Deniability.") share their detailed research into the evolution and possible commercial applications of Homo sapiens whedonum.
You will learn: How and why the "crucifix glitch" came about. Why you should run from a blushing vampire. How many kilograms of human are needed to make one kilogram of vampire. How vampires resemble two year old humans, domestic shorthaired cats, and lungfish. And why "survival of the fittest" should be reconceptualized as "survival of the least inadequate". [more inside]
posted by maudlin
on Dec 24, 2006 -
, known also as The Ten Books of Architecture, is an exposition on architecture by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio. Originally in Latin, here it is translated into English.
posted by nthdegx
on Nov 9, 2006 -
of the “jobs of the future” rhetoric surrounding the eagerness to end shop class and get every warm body into college, thence into a cubicle, implicitly assumes that we are heading to a “post-industrial” economy in which everyone will deal only in abstractions. Yet trafficking in abstractions is not the same as thinking...
posted by Kwantsar
on Sep 7, 2006 -
, former mining engineer, Godfather to Mad Magazine’s “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions,” cartoonist
for Boob McNutt and Mike & Ike (they look alike), is best known for the now eponymous machines
he started cartooning back in 1914 such as: how to not forget to mail a letter
. Or the reminder to take out the garbage.
Or the local government efficiency machine.
Or the oversleeping cure.
Or the German webserver wakeup device
(it’s got sound).
There are amateurs
making ‘Rube Goldberg machines,’ but there are also serious contests
, sponsored by serious engineers
. (There are even do it yourself plans
- y’know, for kids).
Goldberg’s influence can be seen in a variety
, but by the time he turned 80 he’d tired of cartooning and decided to begin sculpting. Needless to say he excelled and of course, influenced humorous
posted by Smedleyman
on Mar 15, 2006 -
Eighty years ago, William Mulholland
completed his final project: the St. Francis Dam,
which converted San Francisquito Canyon--about 5 miles northeast of what is now Santa Clarita, California
--into a 38,000 acre-foot reservoir for Los Angeles/Owens River aqueduct water.
You're probably familiar with Mulholland's name
--he designed and built the Los Angeles Aqueduct
and the beginning of the system with which Los Angeles is supplied water
from the Central Valley--and as a gesture of gratitude, the city named its most scenic highway
in his honor. Mulholland, the California Water Wars,
the aqueduct, and the dam were also referenced and alluded to extensively in Roman Polanski's Chinatown.
But the man
who helped build an immense metropolis by bringing water to the desert has only a small fountain
as a memorial to his legacy. Three minutes before midnight, on March 12, 1928...
posted by fandango_matt
on Mar 13, 2006 -
At BookFactory we understand the importance of documenting your work, research and inventions. Through innovation and technology we provide the highest quality books at economical prices without requiring large runs. We specialize in making custom Laboratory Notebooks, Engineering Notebooks, Journals, and Log Books with custom page designs, company logos, book numbers, and more, for less than you pay today.
posted by ColdChef
on May 2, 2005 -
All things 737
: aircraft systems
, pilots' notes
, deliveries and fleet movements
, production methods
, technical photographs
, blended winglets
, rudder news
, illustrated history
, accident reports
, Q's and A
's. Know it all? Take the quiz
posted by breezeway
on Apr 27, 2005 -
Necessity Is the Mother of Invention. (NY Times, reg. req.) Amy Smith
teaches MIT students about the politics of delivering technology to poor nations and the nitty-gritty of mechanical engineering and helped start the IDEAS competition
; she herself designed (among other things) a screenless hammer mill
suited to third-world conditions and using "materials available to a blacksmith in Senegal."
Smith's entire life is like one of her inventions, portable and off the grid. At 41, she has no kids, no car, no retirement plan and no desire for a Ph.D. Her official title: instructor. ''I'm doing exactly what I want to be doing. Why would I spend six years to get a Ph.D. to be in the position I'm in now, but with a title after my name? M.I.T. loves that I'm doing this work. The support is there. So I don't worry.''...
Likewise, the inventors who most inspire her will never strike it rich. ''There are geniuses in Africa, but they're not getting the press,'' she says. She gushes about Mohammed Bah Abba, a Nigerian teacher who came up with the pot-within-a-pot system. With nothing more than a big terra-cotta bowl, a little pot, some sand and water, Abba created a refrigerator -- the rig uses evaporation rather than electricity to keep vegetables cool. Innovations that target the poorest of the poor don't have to be complicated to make a big difference. The best solution is sometimes the most obvious.
A rare optimistic story for these downbeat times.
posted by languagehat
on Dec 3, 2003 -
The massive engineering feat of Stonehenge meets the conspicuous nature of fiercely gated communities. The resulting bastard child: The Palm
, a man made island community shaped like a palm tree off of the coast of Dubai, UAE. (warning: site entirely flash-based) (via willnot)
posted by Ufez Jones
on Jul 24, 2003 -
Anita Mk VII
the "A New Inspiration To Accounting" OR "A New Inspiration To Arithmetic" was the world's first electronic desktop calculator. Launched in 1961, the Mk VII and Mk VIII were the only commercial calculators available for a period of two years.
posted by riffola
on Apr 21, 2003 -
Synthetic Trees could purify the air
- "It looks like a goal post with Venetian blinds," said the Columbia University physicist...synthetic trees could help clean up an atmosphere grown heavy with carbon dioxide..."You can be a thousand times better than a living tree...There are a number of engineering issues which need to be worked out," he said. (BBC) Hurry up, then
- "Ice dams are blocking Latvian ports, winds and storms are battering Europe, Portugal is freezing, Vietnam has lost one-third its rice crop, and the cold has caused close to 2,000 deaths in usually temperate South Asia."
posted by troutfishing
on Feb 23, 2003 -
Shuttle "Achille's Hell"
According to this article, Shuttle has one. Curiously it's in the area in which that piece of insulation hit during launch.Were the astronauts warned ? Did they do some space walk to see what was wrong ? I would stop my car to go out and see if I heard a loud "thump" coming from somewhere.
posted by elpapacito
on Feb 3, 2003 -