Back in the early 1970s, an illustrator named Phil Kirkland created some amazing textbook illustrations, mostly for psychology and health books. Pictured above is his "Moving from Youth to Adulthood". I think that I missed this section of adolescence, because I don't remember it at all.
Back when I drove a forklift for a living, we had driving contests, like picking up and transporting an egg without breaking it. Helicopter pilots, however, are a more daring breed, as you can see from this video. Among other tricks, the pilot shaved a man on the ground. No -- not with the blades of his aircraft. Presumably he's still working on that stunt. Rather, the pilot had a safety razor attached to a landing strut and maneuvered the chopper so that he shaved a volunteer's face without drawing blood.
German photographer Markus Reugels specializes in high-speed photography, and captures a lot of images of water drops. By adding chemicals to the water and raising his shutter speed to one sixteen thousandth of a second, he's been able to take some truly amazing shots:
By thickening the water with guar gum he was also able to alter the shape of the splashes, making some of them take on the bizarre look of something from a science-fiction film or a nuclear mushroom cloud.
The shapes, which varied from 3cm to 15cm, were altered even further by adding sugar and, by putting rinse aid in the dish, he was able to increase the height of the droplet splashes.
His images on Flickr are really amazing. You really should check them out.
Ah, The Addams Family! Although this show lasted only two years -- 1964 through 1966 -- it has endured as a pop culture phenomenon, spawning movies, cartoons, revivals, and comics. Let's take a look at some things you might not know about that show.
1. The show was preceded by the one-panel cartoons of Charles Addams, which made their debut in The New Yorker in 1937. These works of dark humor featured the same characters that would later grace the show. Addams was known as a man of ghoulish if playful interests, and his house was filled with instruments of torture and medieval weapons, particularly crossbows. He hoped to someday put his crossbow collection to practical use:
“I have this fantasy,” he said, smiling, “A robber breaks into my apartment and just as he comes through the door, I get him -- right through the neck. Always through the neck.”
2. John Astin, who played Gomez Addams, was initially offeredthe role of Lurch.
3. Astin’s crazed, maniacal look as Gomez Addams had prior service. While living in a rough neighborhood of New York City, he would get between his apartment and the subway station safely by acting a bit deranged. No one bothered him.
4. Fans sometimes stop Astin, speak French to him, and expect him to react as Gomez did when Morticia spoke the language of love. Ringo Starr from The Beatles once grabbed Astin’s arm and started kissing up its length before Astin stopped him from going past his elbow.
Students at the University of Maryland build a functional helicopter that is powered only by human exertion:
The X-shaped helicopter, called Gamera, has 42-foot diameter rotors at each end of 60-foot long crossbars. A pilot's module is suspended from the middle, where Wexler, a biology student, sat and pedaled with feet and hands. Pilot included, the contraption weighs just over 200 pounds.
Judy Wexler pedaled hard enough to lift the craft (just barely) off the ground for four seconds. Skip ahead to three minutes into the video to see the flight.
You may have encountered people who can't walk down a hallway without running into other people, or waddle down the center at the slowest possible speed. Or maybe it's just me. I walk fast, so this is a pet peeve of mine. Anyway, this flooring surface developed by researchers at the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo is an attempt to solve the problem. The stuff is made of lenticular lenses -- the same material used in 3D holographic cards. It's supposed to subconsciously guide you to the right side of the hallway.
I do not know the origins of this picture, but the dog's owner should be commended for providing much-needed protection from arrows and bladed weapons. She is ready to go to both the dogpark and the Ren fair.
In the past, Scott Blake made composite portraits of people using barcodes. Now he's getting with the times and using QR codes instead. Pictured above is a portrait of radio show host Amy Goodman. Each one links to segments from her show over the past nine years.
Although it lacks the refinement of a Geo Metro, a 1970 Oldsmobile Toronado station wagon isn't a bad foundation for a limousine. This was one of several dozen built during the defunct custom car builder Miller-Meteor, a company perhaps best known for making the Ghostbusters' Ecto-1. It recently sold on eBay for $3,000. The seller pushed it as a tool for picking up women, and it's obviously well-designed for that purpose. Right, ladies?
Actually, it's not the real Darth Vader. It's just an actor dressed up as Darth Vader. Specifically, this is Jonathan Arons, who puts on a truly original performance for people at a senior center in New York City.
Interviewing is a skill and not everyone has it -- but some surprising people do. Like William Shatner. Have you seen his Raw Nerve? Whatever faults he has, Shatner knows how to do a probing interview.
Where was I? Oh, yeah: Bert from Sesame Street is one of those people. "If you could be any sock from history, what would you be?" Brilliant. That's how you get inside someone's head.
We've mentioned noodling before. It's a fishing technique that consists of grabbing a fish with your bare hands and tossing it up on the shore. But here in Texas we do it a bit differently. Noodling consists of shoving one's fist into the water. Then, when a big ol' catfish clamps its jaws around your hand, fling it out of the water.
Currently and sadly, noodling is illegal. But that may change. The Wall Street Journal spoke to expert noodler Brady Knowlton:
Nothing beats "the heebie-jeebies you get underwater, in the dark, with this little sea monster biting you," he says. He recalls that his arm looked like "the first stage of a chili recipe" after his first noodling experience about 15 years ago. Catfish are equipped with bands of small but very abrasive teeth.
The bill swam easily through the state house, but now rod-and-reel anglers are speaking up against the proposed law, currently in the state Senate.
They say noodling is unfair to the fish, since they're grabbed in their burrows without a chance to swim away.
I had no idea that a set of lenses was such an incredibly complex piece of machinery! Michael Zang acquired on eBay a Leica Tri-Elmar-M 28-35-50mm that had been sliced in half. It was made by students as a graduation project.
Virgin Galactic's experimental SpaceShipTwo, dubbed the VSS Enterprise, recently performed its first flight using "feathering". That means that the rear of the craft bent far backwards to slow it down during re-entry. Popular Science's Clay Dillow explained its significance:
“Feathering,” as it is known, is probably the biggest innovation integrated into SpaceShipTwo’s design. In the feathered position, the entire tail section of the plane rotates upward about 65 degrees, creating a different aerodynamic shape that is highly stable yet creates tremendous drag to slow the aircraft down during re-entry. Though that drag is pretty significant, the light weight of the aircraft keeps the skin temperature from rising too high, circumventing the need for heat shields and other thermal protection.
Moreover, when feathered correctly the aircraft is so stable that the pilot can more or less take his hands off the sticks and let the aircraft work its way through the atmosphere naturally, based purely on its aerodynamic shape. That’s a huge safety feature, as the pilot doesn’t have to maintain a specific degree of entry or rely on a sophisticated fly-by-wire computer.
At the link, you can watch a video of the flight. Skip ahead to 2:30 to see the feathering.
Students at a Dutch university have constructed the largest functional Nintendo Entertainment System controller in the world. It measures twelve by five feet. As you can see from the Dutch-language video at the link, they set it up in a public venue and let people play Super Mario Bros. on a huge screen.
Israeli designer Idan Friedman has been experimenting with a new medium lately -- embossed disposable aluminum pans. He refers to the project as depicting "ordinary people and disposable objects." I think that it's a lovely way to take trash and turn it into art.
Three-person chess, a game mentioned on by Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, is now a reality. It requires a specialized board, but other than that, you can just follow the rules at the link. Here's an overview from the creators:
The only changes from conventional chess are some protocol issues that must be followed to maintain order where the teams border each other, which is simple and necessary. Also, please notice that the trajectory lines orienting from the outer rank, are simply visual aids to help guide diagonal moves passing through the center. If the path is clear, a diagonal move starting from the outer rank can pass through the center and sweep back around to where it originated. The complexities of the third player are infinite. Your threatened piece may be allowed to maintain occupancy as your position is beneficial to the threatening player.
The Centers for Disease Control, an agency of the United States government, finally got with the times and decided to warn the public about the dangers of zombie attacks. Here's what the CDC plans to do during an outbreak, assuming that its staff shows up for work:
If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine). It's likely that an investigation of this scenario would seek to accomplish several goals: determine the cause of the illness, the source of the infection/virus/toxin, learn how it is transmitted and how readily it is spread, how to break the cycle of transmission and thus prevent further cases, and how patients can best be treated.
This sounds a trifle naïve. Anyway, the website then offers tips on how to prepare your family to live through this kind of unnatural disaster. There is one, huge, glaring oversight: no weapons. There's not a single mention of the utility of guns, machetes, and such during the most obvious time when they will be absolutely necessary to survive.
But that's probably more a job for FEMA. Maybe the CDC isn't the place to go for survival advice.