December 1st, 2013

Studley tool chest


Toolbox envy?

June 13th, 2013

the mechanism of moviemaking

An interesting look at how soundtrack production fits into the mechanism of moviemaking (in this case for Star Trek: Into Darkness).

May 4th, 2013

bad translator

I’ve been having more fun playing with this than I should really admit. You give it a sentence and it passes it back and forth through a selection of free translation services and then presents you with the übertranslated result.

In this way, my sentence

‘Within a few short years human translators will be obsolete’

becomes the rather more worrying

‘People will disappear’,

or with different settings, the rather poetic but undoubtedly true

‘In some years short human translators will aged be’.

Bad Translator.

April 27th, 2013

radio facsimile

1938-finch-machine-sm

I’m in love with this invention and the appearance of this prototype… It’s an elegant idea, probably too much before its time to really catch on. And now it’s pretty much obsolete as a concept. A newspaper delivered by radio as you sleep, printed in your home. And in 1938!

This invention of a wireless fax, as it were, was credited to W.G. H. Finch and used radio spectrum that was otherwise unused during the late-night hours when most Americans were sleeping. The FCC granted a special license for these transmissions to occur between midnight and 6am, though it would seem that a noisy printing device in your house cranking away in the middle of the night might have been the fatal flaw in their system. It wasn’t exactly a fast delivery either, as the article notes that it takes “a few hours” for the machine to produce your wireless fax newspaper.

The Smithsonian’s online magazine has a nice write-up on the invention here. And here’s a video of it in action (you need Quicktime to view it).

March 22nd, 2013

emotion produced by machines

This machine makes paper planes, but it also produces delight in certain people. Or is it the human innovation it represents that makes me smile? Hard to look at a machine like this and not see the person who made it.

February 24th, 2013

event partitioning

Don’t analyse me too much based on this comment, but I find it rather satisfying in a way to see a real-life system be broken down into its constituent functions, as in this system context diagram of a fictitious hotel. You could blow this diagram up to the size of a building and make ever smaller diagrams within the diagram to represent the functions within the functions within the functions within the functions…

In fact, I will do that one day. Ok, back to work.

(wikipedia link)

January 31st, 2013

infrasound pigeon navigation

He said: “The way birds navigate is that they use a compass and they use a map. The compass is usually the position of the Sun or the Earth’s magnetic field, but the map has been unknown for decades.

“I have found they are using sound as their map… and this will tell them where they are relative to their home.”

The pigeons, he said, use “infrasound”, which is an extremely low-frequency sound that is below the range of human hearing.

He explained: “The sound originates in the ocean. Waves in the deep ocean are interfering and they create sound in both the atmosphere and the Earth. You can pick this energy up anywhere on Earth, in the centre of a continent even.”

He believes that when the birds are at their unfamiliar release site, they listen for the signature of the infrasound signal from their home – and then use this to find their bearings.

However, infrasound can be affected by changes in the atmosphere.

BBC. (Related posts)

January 23rd, 2013

olive oil production

The fascinating traditional process of making olive oil.

December 22nd, 2012

choreographie

Via Public Domain Review:

Collection of Dances in Choreography Notation (1700)
Images extracted from the latter half of Choregraphie, a book first published in 1700 which details a dance notation system invented by Raoul-Auger Feuillet which revolutionised the dance world. The system indicates the placement of the feet and six basic leg movements: plié, releveé, sauté, cabriole, tombé, and glissé. Changes of body direction and numerous ornamentations of the legs and arms are also part of the system which is based on tract drawings that trace the pattern of the dance. Additionally, bar lines in the dance score correspond to bar lines in the music score. Signs written on the right or left hand side of the tract indicate the steps. Voltaire ranked the invention as one of the “achievements of his day” and Denis Diderot devoted ten pages to the subject in his Encylopdédie.

The diagrams really get my imagination going.

December 8th, 2012

mechanised birdsong

A mechanical singing bird mechanism. Made around 120 years ago in Paris, probably by Bontems. In the film I hope you can identify all the major parts and see them working together to make the sound. The mechanism was in a rusted and seized state and has been restored. Surpisingly the bellows are in good original condition. See our channel for more, much more.

If this is for real, it’s very impressive! Actually if it were not real it would be impressive too. See more at the house of automata. (via sciencedump)

October 14th, 2012

anternet

Researchers at Stanford university compare the the networking of an ant colony to the mechanism of the internet. A lesson in harnessing the collective power of individual units! (via sciencedump)

October 9th, 2012

alternative scarecrow

What a mechanism! Now that’s resourceful. (via sciencedump)

September 17th, 2012

in aristotelian wars the combatants simply fight forever

He understands, as Darwin would, that there is a war of nature. But, where in Darwinian wars some species flourish while others go extinct, in Aristotelian wars the combatants simply fight forever.

A documentary exploring Aristotle’s biological investigations and comparing his understanding to our current knowledge.

August 24th, 2012

they have plastic pieces that will pop into there

Reuben Margolin‘s wave inspired mechanical sculptures.

June 9th, 2012

automatically aligning the mushrooms

(via kottke)

May 15th, 2012

voicebox

Demonstration of the human voice box. Via the blog Machinatorium by Henning Lederer.

May 15th, 2012

how it’s made, 1945

The making of a bicycle. Via kottke.

May 7th, 2012

the bacterium Magnetospirillum magneticum

These naturally magnetic microorganisms usually live in aquatic environments such as ponds and lakes, below the surface where oxygen is scarce.

They swim following the Earth’s magnetic field lines, aligning in the magnetic field like compass needles, in search of preferred oxygen concentrations.

When the bacteria ingest iron, proteins inside their bodies interact with it to produce tiny crystals of the mineral magnetite, the most magnetic mineral on Earth.

Having studied the way the microbes collect, shape and position these nano-magnets inside themselves, the researchers copied the method and applied it outside the bacteria, effectively “growing” magnets that could in future help to build hard drives.

“We are quickly reaching the limits of traditional electronic manufacturing as computer components get smaller,” said lead researcher Dr Sarah Staniland of the University of Leeds.

“The machines we’ve traditionally used to build them are clumsy at such small scales.

“Nature has provided us with the perfect tool to [deal with] this problem.”

More: BBC Technology






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