Rainworks are positive messages and art that only appear when it rains. Peregrine Church watched a video showing off the properties of superhydrophobic coatings and got an idea uniquely suited to his environment: famously rainy Seattle.* Using a spray-on coating, he did a stencil at a bus stop. It's invisible in dry weather, but as rain hits it and the wet concrete darkens, the writing and art becomes clear. Since then, more have been added: tentacles, hopscotch grids, environmental messages, lily pads, and more. [more inside]
Norbert Wiener: The Eccentric Genius Whose Time May Have Finally Come (Again) - "The most direct reason for Wiener's fall to relative obscurity was the breakthrough of a young mathematician and engineer named Claude Shannon." [more inside]
Surely you've heard of the physicist Maxwell, but what about Oliver Heaviside? Oliver Heaviside: A first-rate oddity.
Towards the end of the 1800s, there were three primary American groups competing to invent technology to record and play back audio. Alexander Graham Bell worked with with Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester Bell in at their Volta Laboratory in Georgetown, Washington, D.C., while Thomas A. Edison worked from his Menlo Park facilities, and Emile Berliner worked in his independent laboratory in his home. To secure the rights to their inventions, the three groups sent samples of their work to the Smithsonian. These recordings became part of the permanent collections, now consisting of 400 of the earliest audio recordings ever made. But knowledge of their contents was limited to old, short descriptions, as the rubber, beeswax, glass, tin foil and brass recording media are fragile, and playback devices might damage the recordings, if such working devices are even available. That is, until a collaborative project with the Library of Congress and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory came together to make 2D and 3D optical scanners, capable of visually recording the patterns marked on discs and cylinders, respectively. [more inside]
On November 22, 2011, TEDxBrussels held an all day event whose theme was: "A Day in the Deep Future." Speakers were asked to try and contemplate what life will be like for mankind in 50 years. Overview. [more inside]
Steam engine. Henry was first. Steam powered trains soon followed. Steam powered shovels, tractors, and rollers. Think technology has made steam obsolete? Not yet.
What is the relationship between the optical groove in a record or wax cylinder and sound, and how can we use this to recover analog recordings from the past? Dr. Carl Haber explains IRENE (.pdf; begin at slide 44 for audio samples).
The Spark Museum John Jenkins' collection of vintage wireless, radio, scientific and electrical equipment, including Crookes and Geissler tubes, Barlow wheels and other early electric motors, loudspeakers and many more oddball electrical devices. [via TeamDroid]
Quantum Encryption Scientists have created an unbreakable cypher through the use of quantum physics, where a photon is observed and used as the basis for an encryption key. "Uncertainty is the principle we exploit. It's impossible to find the key, because the photon can be measured once and only once. An eavesdropper can't measure it, and so can't get the key." Props to Heisenberg!
Vlad gives his views on the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. As the anthem of Phystech promises, "we will disperse, when the time comes, in all the world, from Dolgoprudny"
How to build yourself a Glow Discharge Panel. No, really. Woah, that's freakin' cool. UFO stuff, I think to myself. Heh. Oh.. Oh holy crap!
Teleportation finally? Not quite "beam me up scotty" yet, but a definite surge forward. The mechanics of it aren't quite sophisticated enough yet to handle humans, but this does make quantum computers close to reality.