John Farrier's Blog Posts

Fossilization Machine Accelerates the Petrification Process

Austin Houldsworth is an "interactive artist". He wanted to see if it was possible to speed up the fossilization process from a few million years to a few months, and built a machine that he thought might do the job. Pictured above is Houldsworth with the body of a partridge that he subjected to four months of petrification. His ultimate goal is to try it on a person:

Yes, fossilising a human being is still the ultimate aim. Regarding this experiment, the results are promising enough to continue perfecting the machine... but I never saw the machine as the final result - it has helped me to understand the many different aspects which are required for the process to occur. And subsequently I've designed a number of improvements for the machine. I believe I'll be working on this particular project for a very long time.

Link via Gizmodo | Artist's Website | Photo: We Make Money Not Art

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Candle Weeps Wax Tears as It Burns

D.L. & Co., a manufacturer of luxury crafts, makes a candle that cries tears as it burns. It's called "Deirdre", after the Irish pre-Christian folktale "Deirdre of the Sorrows." There are four more photos at the link.

Link via Make

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Milling Machine Plays MacGyver Theme

(Video Link)

Courtesy of YouTube user teemune comes this video of a milling machine programmed to play the theme song to MacGyver. Here's how it's described in the video notes:

Visa made a program that converts notes from a .txt file into G-code, which makes the milling machine play the music.

via Geekologie

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Self-Aiming Sniper Rifle

DARPA and Lockheed Martin are developing a sniper rifle that, if successful, will partially aim itself:

It will measure atmospheric conditions, account for the weapon’s maximum effective range and include GPS coordinates. It’s also supposed to communicate with the rifle scope, informing the gun itself of the aim point offset and expected crosswind.

Link via Say Uncle | Photo (unrelated) via Flickr user Lance Fisher used under Creative Commons license

Previously: New Long Distance Shot Record: 1.52 Miles Away

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Iron Man Crocodile

(Video Link)

YouTube user MorRokko dressed her pet dwarf caiman in an Iron Man costume. She writes:

I wuv my caimen. He is probably the only crocodilian in the world that would let me do this.

via Urlesque

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Lifesaver Bazooka

The Longreach Buoyancy Deployment System is a gadget in development that fires a buoyant life preserver at people stranded in the water up to 150 meters away:

Longreach is also equipped with Para-Flares for night-time Illumination. Longreach is designed to be simple to manufacture and easy to handle. Ideally used by emergency services personnel or a ship’s crew, Longreach has the potential to significantly reduce the number of drownings at sea.

Video at the link.

Link via GearFuse | Photos: Dyson Award

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New "Scratched Glasses" Give Perfect Vision

Bifocals and trifocals allow people with limited vision to see objects at varying distances, but only by refocusing on the object from a different vantage. A scientist named Zeev Zalevsky responded to this problem by developing a lens that allows the user to focus on any distance out from 33 centimeters:

It involves engraving the surface of a standard lens with a grid of 25 near-circular structures each 2 millimetres across and containing two concentric rings. The engraved rings are just a few hundred micrometres wide and a micrometre deep. "The exact number and size of the sets will change from one lens to another," depending on its size and shape, says Zalevsky.

The rings shift the phase of the light waves passing through the lens, leading to patterns of both constructive and destructive interference. Using a computer model to calculate how changes in the diameter and position of the rings alter the pattern, Zalevsky came up with a design that creates a channel of constructive interference perpendicular to the lens through each of the 25 structures. Within these channels, light from both near and distant objects is in perfect focus.

"It results in an axial channel of focused light, not a single focal spot," Zalevsky says. "If the retina is positioned anywhere along this channel, it will always see objects in focus."

Link via DVICE | Photo (unrelated) via Flickr user Muffet used under Creative Commons license

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Scientists Fold DNA into Möbius Strips

A Möbius strip is a ribbon of material that has only one side. A group of nanotechnology researchers experimenting with manipulating tiny objects was able to reshape a DNA strand into a Möbius strip.

The ability to create complex structures on the tiniest of scales is one of the great challenges of nanotechnology. In particular, chemists are looking for particular topological structures, or structures that keep their basic properties no matter how much you stretch or twist them. A Möbius strip is a good example of such a structure, because no matter what you do it (short of tearing it, of course), it will always have only one side.

Link | Journal Article (Subscription required) | Image: Han et al.

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Twilight Hand Model Wants Fame

Kimbra Hickey is a hand model, and her hands grace the cover of the novel Twilight. She earned $300 for the photo. After seeing so many people attached to the franchise rise in fame and fortune, Hickey would like to get a piece of the action:

"I see people reading it on the subway, and I say, 'Those are my hands! I'm a hand model!' " she explained. "I'm sure they think I'm crazy -- a crazy lady on the subway."

The good-natured Hickey sometimes hangs out near the cash register at the Barnes & Noble near her Greenwich Village apartment to spread the word. Surprised customers sometimes ask her for her autograph or to trace the outline of her hand on the book jacket.

She even carries around a Gala apple in her purse at times so she can recreate the pose for people.[...]

Hickey's agent, Danielle Korwin, said her hands are in demand because they are "veinless" -- not the sort of hands a vampire would like.

Link via reddit | Photo: Angel Chevrestt

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Adorable Bunny Rabbits in Paper Cups

(Video Link)

Batten down the hatches and prepare for a cuteness overload: rabbit goodness now comes in cup-sized servings. Their dark, violent thoughts are perfectly hidden.

via Buzzfeed

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RatCar is a Car Operated by a Rat's Brain

Researchers at the University of Tokyo created an interface that allows a rat to move a small car around with just his thoughts:

The rats were trained on the car by towing it around an enclosed area with the motors disengaged. A vision system positioned above tracked the rats by following colored markers on their backs and the vehicle. It fed the positions into a "locomotion estimation model" program that correlated the motion of the animals with readings from the electrodes.

Next the rats were suspended more tightly to the car so their limbs touched the floor only slightly. The researchers then switched the system into "neuro-robotic mode," with the neural signals used to help drive the car. Six out of eight rats used in the study adapted well to the car.

The researchers hope that this project will lead to the development of thought-controlled mobility aids for disabled humans.

Link via Popular Science | Photo: IEEE Spectrum

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Light-Sensitive Musical Instrument is Played by Moving Your Fingertips

Artist Robert Mathy created "Light Sensitive Fingertips" -- a musical instrument that has light sensitive phototransistors in the tips of the fingers. It's played by moving the sensors over light sources of varying intensity:

Light, emitted by the displays of activated mobile phones, functions as the origin of the sounds. As each mobile phone's display generates a different light frequency, each results in an audio signal with a different pitch. In addition, other electronic devices, such as flashing bicycle lights, can be used to generate rhythmic tones.

In the links, you can find a video of Mathy playing this instrument.

Link via GearFuse | Video | Photo: Robert Mathy

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If You Do This in Email, I Hate You

Sadly, there are people who have email accounts, but only a limited grasp of basic computer or social skills. Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal has a new set of comics up illustrating the foibles of such folks.


What email habit do you find most irritating?

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UAV That Uses No Wing Flaps

Britain's new DEMON unmanned aerial drone doesn't need wing elevators or ailerons to fly:

It is instead manoeuvred by hundreds of tiny jets that blast air in order to influence to change the lift, drag and other features of performance.

The result is a more streamlined, aerodynamic craft that cuts down on edges and gaps - features that can increase radar detection.

The end result is an aircraft with fewer moving parts in need of maintenance and a reduced radar signature.

Link via OhGizmo! | Photo: Cranfield University

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Itasha Gallery

Itasha is, reportedly, a Japanese hobby of decorating cars with female anime characters. Photographer Tomoyuki Sakaguchi took 23 pictures of some of the finer examples of this style.

Link via Pink Tentacle

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Flight Attendants Give Safety Demo as a Dance

(Video Link)

Flight attendants on board a Cebu Pacific Airlines flight remixed Katy Perry and Lady Gaga in their unique presentation of their jet's safety features:

Candice Iyog, vice President of Marketing at Cebu Pacific Airlines, said: "Cebu Pacific has always been known as a fun airline, we wanted to get the message across to our customers that flight safety doesn't have to be boring.

"This was an experiment that we hope to repeat and also a chance to showcase the talent of some of our cabin crew staff."

The performance took place while the plane was at cruising altitude, with the cabin crew giving a normal safety demonstration before take-off.

Link via Ace of Spades HQ

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Will Ferrell and 1,580 People Break Guinness World Record for the Most Number of People Dressed as Superheroes

As a publicity stunt for his upcoming movie Megamind, Will Ferrell gathered 1,580 people dressed as superheroes in order to break a Guinness World Record for that feat:

A total of 1,580 costumed individuals showed up to the event, which was more than enough to break the record of 1,500 set by a New Hampshire children’s hospital way back in… August.[...]

Then Ferrell majestically appeared on a rising stage platform, and Guinness spokesman Stuart Claxton verified the world record, to the sound of cheers. “Everyone in a Spider-Man outfit wins a new car!” joked Ferrell.

Link via Fanboy | Photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images

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The Michael Bayifier

The Michael Bayifier takes any photo and makes it look like a still shot from a Michael Bay movie (e.g. Transformers, Armageddon). Pictured above is Alex and his kids on one of their action-packed vacations.

Link via The Presurfer

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From the Annals of the History of Psychology: Nude Psychotherapy

In the 1960s (of course), psychologist Paul Bindrim, building upon the work of Abraham Maslow, invented a form of psychotherapy that involved everyone getting naked:

Nude therapy was based on the idea of the naked body as a metaphor of the "psychological soul." Uninhibited exhibition of the nude body revealed that which was most fundamental, truthful, and real. In the marathon, Bindrim interrogated this metaphor with a singular determination. Bodies were exposed and scrutinized with a science-like rigor. Particular attention was paid to revealing the most private areas of the body and mind-all with a view to freeing the self from its socially imposed constraints. "This," Bindrim asserted gesturing to a participant's genitalia and anus, "is where it's at. This is where we are so damned negatively conditioned" [...] Determined to squelch the "exaggerated sense of guilt" in the body, Bindrim devised an exercise called "crotch eyeballing" in which participants were instructed to look at each others genitals and disclose the sexual experiences they felt most guilty about while lying naked in a circle with their legs in the air [...] In this position, Bindrim insisted "you soon realize that the head end and the tail end are indispensable parts of the same person, and that one end is about as good as the other.:"

Link via io9 | Unrelated photo of Bob Newhart statue via Flickr user Digital Sextant, used under Creative Commons license

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Security Company Uses Box to Show How Easy It Is to Break into Your Home

The security company ADT wanted to convince apartment and condo owners in Santiago, Chile that it's really easy to break into their homes. So the ad agency DDB made spring-loaded boxes and shoved them under the front doors of prospective customers. At the link, you can see a video from the ad agency showing how they work.

Link via Geekosystem | Photo: Copyranter

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Old Computer Monitor Turned into Dog Bed

Flickr user Monica Wagner turned an old computer monitor into a bed for her dog, Zelda. At the link, you can view fourteen images of it. Sometimes the cat takes over.

Link via Gizmodo

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Boukje Voet's Book Sculptures

Dutch artist Boukje Voet shreds books into elaborate sculptures. Pictured above is the novel Catching Butterflies (according to Google Translate), which Voet shaped accordingly.

Link (in Dutch) via DudeCraft

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Boat Made of Chocolate

(Video Link)

To settle a bet, chocolatier Georges Larnicol built and launched a boat made from chocolate. The 3.5 meter craft managed to stay afloat with three people inside for an hour and a half.

It wasn't the 55-year-old's first attempt to set sail in a chocolate boat.

In August his plans were scuppered when his Chocolate boat Mark I broke into pieces.

But Mark II, which took more than 400 hours to construct, met with more success and pleased with the outcome, Larnicol is promising to build a bigger 12-metre boat complete with chocolate mask for 2012.

Link via The Presurfer

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Suspect Denies Owning Cocaine Found In His Butt

A man in Bradenton, Florida was arrested after a police search revealed illegal narcotics hidden in his bottom. When the drugs were discovered, the suspect denied owning them:

Roberts quickly disavowed ownership of the cocaine. “The white stuff is not mine, but the weed is,” he claimed, adding that the crack in his crack was the property of a friend who had previously borrowed the car and left the drug on the passenger seat. Roberts explained that when he was pulled over for speeding, he concealed the second bag of narcotics.

Link via Ace of Spades HQ | Photo by Flickr user Valerie Everett used under Creative Commons license

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Shotgun Shell Shotglass

Made By Ammo crafts shotglasses that are shaped like shotgun shells. They're made of stainless steel and weigh about a quarter pound each.

Link -- Thanks, Uncle!

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20 Unusual Century-Old Gadgets

Maurice Collins, a retired businessman in London, has an extensive collection of odd historical gadgets, most of them from the 19th or early 20th Centuries. The Daily Mail has a photo gallery of sixteen of these inventions, such as the pictured mustache protector:

Having a bushy moustache has always been something of an obstacle to refined dining - particularly when it came to mulligatawny soup. The answer was to use a moustache protector, spoon or cup - designed with a hole for the mustachioed man to sip through.

Link via Gizmodo | Photo: Daily Mail

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Blimps Big Enough to Haul Buildings

Skylifter is an Australian start-up company that hopes to use enormous blimps to move pieces of equipment to places not easily accessible by roads:

Heavy-transport helicopters, such as the Mil Mi-26 or Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane, address some of these difficulties, but their payloads are limited to 20 and nine tonnes, respectively, and the huge rotors create a powerful downdraft that makes handling that payload rather tricky. So people have long been looking for other ways round the problem. Now, Skylifter, an Australian aeronautical firm, thinks it has found the perfect solution.

The company is developing a piloted dirigible capable of carrying loads of up to 150 tonnes over distances as great as 2,000km (1,240 miles) at a speed of 45 knots (83kph). This would permit the craft to transport not just hefty components, but entire buildings, to remote areas. The company envisages modules ranging from rural hospitals and disaster-relief centres to luxury airborne cruise ships.

Link via Popular Science | Image: Skylifter

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Remembering Neil Alan Smith

Neil Alan Smith, 48, was a dishwasher at a Crab Shack in St. Petersburg, Florida. When he was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver, the St. Petersburg Times reported the story. An online commenter to the story responded:

A man who is working as a dishwasher at the Crab Shack at the age of 48 is surely better off dead.

The newspaper editors were deeply offended at this gross dismissal of the value of a human life, and responded by publishing a full obituary for Mr. Smith. He was a private man, but noted among a small circle of friends for working hard and sharing with those in need:

"He set his boundaries," said Peggy Rogers, 56, his roommate of six years. "He didn't pry into your business, so you just kind of respected that and you didn't do that to him."

He told friends he had been married and divorced, had managed a gas station in New Hampshire before moving to Florida in 1999. He got a concession stand job at Derby Lane, then started working at the Crab Shack.

He lived in a mobile home near the restaurant and paid rent to the owner, Bonnie Schaeffer-Mott. Once, when she feared the power company would shut off the electricity, she asked Mr. Smith for help.

He gave her more than what she had asked to borrow and insisted she take it. "I'll never forget that," said Schaeffer-Mott, 51.

Every life matters.

Link via Geekosystem | Photo: Tampa Bay Online

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Michael Rianda's "Work"

(Video Link)

"Work" is a short film by Michael Rianda about a young boy who wants a pair of shoes. He wants them so badly that he's willing to slowly die in a cubicle trying to earn money for them.

via Urlesque | Rianda's Website

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Man Gets Probation in Wrong-Car Defecation

For unknown reasons, Austin Horries Purifoy, 19, wanted to relieve himself in the backseat of his girlfriend's car. Unfortunately, he selected the wrong car:

Leaving work late the night of March 11, the car's owner reported finding Purifoy in the back seat of his Honda Civic, pulling up his underwear.

"This is your car?" Purifoy said before bolting the scene, according to documents filed in court. "I thought this was Desiree's car."

Link via Althouse | Photo of unrelated Honda Civic via Flickr user Dave_7 used under Creative Commons license

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Profile for John Farrier

  • Member Since 2012/08/04


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