John Farrier's Blog Posts

Doctor Who Nesting Dolls

Molly Lewis made these nesting dolls as a present for her boyfriend. They depict all eleven Doctors from Doctor Who and a TARDIS.

Link via Technabob

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Featured Designs from the NeatoShop:

Adorable Baby Turtles Climbing Vertical Rock Face

(YouTube Link)

YouTube user kakashi Julia spotted these baby turtles at a shopping mall in Malaysia. They're remarkably agile climbers.

via Geekosystem

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20-Shot Revolver

This is a unique single-action revolver patented by Henry S. Josselyn in 1866. Information on this gun is scarce, but it would appear to fire twenty rounds without reloading simply by cycling a new round on the flexible chain after each discharge. At least one example of this firearm is retained by the Smithsonian Institution.

Link | Patent Information | Photo: American Heritage Magazine

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Rarely-Seen Performances by 16 Star Trek Actors

(Video Link)

At blastr, Adam-Troy Castro compiled videos of little-known performances by Star Trek actors in television shows and movies outside of Star Trek. Among them is this oddity featuring Kate Mulgrew, who played Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager. Mulgrew held the title role in Mrs. Columbo, a mystery show about the wife of the famous detective played by Peter Falk. It lasted thirteen episodes.


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The Birth of the Bride of Frankenstein

Lowbrow artist Mike Bell made this fanciful depiction of the Bride of Frankenstein in imitation of Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus. As you can see at artist's website, the Bride is a favorite motif of Bell.

Link via Nerdcore | Artist's Website (warning: sound)

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How to Make a Shifting Rorschach Mask

(Video Link)

YouTube user guinness0507 created a mask that displays shifting black and white shapes, like the one that superhero Rorschach from Watchmen wears. Thermochromatic paint applied to a t-shirt changes from black to white as the user's breath heats it above 86º F.

via GearFuse

Previously: How Rorschach Stole Christmas

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Chocolate Genome Sequenced

A French-led research team has sequenced the DNA of Theobroma cacao, a tree used in making chocolate. Specifically, they ascertained the genetic code of one type that is used to make gourmet chocolate. This development may allow scientists to genetically engineer these chocolate-producing trees to resist diseases and parasites, thus increasing the availability of top quality chocolate:

Currently, most cacao farmers earn about $2 per day, but producers of fine cacao earn more. Increasing the productivity and ease of growing cacao can help to develop a sustainable cacao economy. The trees are now also seen as an environmentally beneficial crop because they grow best under forest shade, allowing for land rehabilitation and enriched biodiversity.

The team's work identified a variety of gene families that may have future impact on improving cacao trees and fruit either by enhancing their attributes or providing protection from fungal diseases and insects that effect cacao trees.

Link via Fast Company | Photo via Flickr user Peter Pearson used under Creative Commons license

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Buddha Head Carved out of Phone Books

Long Bin-Chen, a New York-based artist originally from Taipei, sculpts books. He's especially fond of depicting the Buddha, such as this sculpture made out of phone books. The artist explained that this is an effort to make the Buddha meaningful to the West:

Since colonial times, Westerners have taken Buddha heads from the Buddha statues in Asia and brought the Buddha heads back to the West. Today, while one finds so many Buddha heads in Western museums and galleries, equally many Buddha bodies in Asia are headless. The Buddha head is an important cultural image from Asia. Yet, by and large, it is misunderstood in Western societies. In this project, I chose the most beautiful Buddha head I found at a museum to use as a model and created this Buddha head from New York City telephone books. The Buddha Head contains the names and numbers of millions of New York residents. The Head will represent a caring Buddha, a Buddha from the East who has come to take care of the West.

Link via Dude Craft | Photo: New York Optimist

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Human Ivory = Art Made from Fingernail Clippings

Etsy seller Rachel Rae Case makes art from human belly button lint and fingernail clippings. Pictured above is one example made from the latter:

This piece is a primitive human-like figure who seems to be dancing or chanting. It's strange anatomy: pelvis, revered leg bones large, protruding jaw and curling fingers make it one of the more detailed Human Ivory pieces I've made.

Link via Geekologie

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New Knowledge about Sea Urchin Teeth Could Lead to Knives that Never Need Sharpening

Researchers led by physicist Pupa Gilbert of the University of Wisconsin at Madison examined how sea urchins are able to maintain razor-sharp teeth throughout their lives without any apparent means of sharpening them. Their findings could lead to the development of knives that never need to be sharpened:

"The sea urchin tooth is complicated in its design. It is one of the very few structures in nature that self-sharpen," says Gilbert, explaining that the sea urchin tooth, which is always growing, is a biomineral mosaic composed of calcite crystals with two forms -- plates and fibers -- arranged crosswise and cemented together with super-hard calcite nanocement. Between the crystals are layers of organic materials that are not as sturdy as the calcite crystals.

"The organic layers are the weak links in the chain," Gilbert explains. "There are breaking points at predetermined locations built into the teeth. It is a concept similar to perforated paper in the sense that the material breaks at these predetermined weak spots."[...]

Knowing the secret of the ever-sharp sea urchin tooth, says Gilbert, could one day have practical applications for human toolmakers. "Now that we know how it works, the knowledge could be used to develop methods to fabricate tools that could actually sharpen themselves with use," notes Gilbert. "The mechanism used by the urchin is the key. By shaping the object appropriately and using the same strategy the urchin employs, a tool with a self-sharpening edge could, in theory, be created."

Link via DVICE | Photo by Flickr user mattk1979 used under Creative Commons license

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Guard Tower from the Napoleonic Wars Refurbished into Modern Home

To protect the country from an invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte, Britain built 103 towers along its southern shore to spot and slow down a French invasion force. The Martello towers, as they were called, had walls 30 feet tall and 13 feet thick. Some survive to this day, and industrial designer Duncan Jackson decided to convert one into a house:

It was the undulating new plywood roof, swooping over three-quarters of the battlements, that did most to turn Tower Y into a modern home. This elegant parasol not only provides a dramatic ceiling for the top floor living space, kitchen and dining area, it also allows mesmerising 360-degree views of the Suffolk coast: on one side tractors plough fields; on the other, vast ships plough the last leg of journeys from, say, China to Felixstowe.

Here is a special place to cook, entertain, or just while away the day. Stroll out onto the terrace and you feel as if you've walked from the bridge of a modern liner out on to its deck, where you stand bathed in light and sucking in sea air. Only the two spiral staircases beckoning from the sides suggest that, below decks, there's another dimension: a cavernous, circular brick chamber, with oak floors set around a vast central brick column. Here, lit by windows set into those deep walls, is another ravishing living space.

You can see pictures of this luxury home at the link.

Link via io9 | Photo: Piercy Conner Architects

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Unusual Off-Road Vehicles

Unusual Locomotion is a website about odd off-road vehicles. Among those featured is the screw-driven Riverine Utility Craft built by Chrysler in 1969. It could reach speeds of 46 kph over marshy ground.

Link via The Presurfer

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Skate Park on a Skateboard in a Skate Park

deviantART user Nansei made this sculpture, entitled "Let's Go Surfing Instead", of a skate park on a skateboard, and then placed it in a skate park for photographing. The scene includes miniature graffiti.

Link via Dude Craft

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He-Man and Skeletor Plushes

Theresa Rohrer made these He-Man and Skeletor plushes for her four-year old nephew. They look so happy together, don't you think?

Link via Super Punch | Artist's Etsy Store

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American Civil War Secret Message Decoded

In 1896, the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, received a bottle with a piece of paper inside. It was added to the collection. But until recently, the paper was left inside, unread. Curator Catherine Wright recently opened it, discovered that it was a coded message, and asked two professional crytologists to break it. The message was addressed to Confederate Gen. John Pemberton (left), the commander of forces defending Vicksburg, Mississippi:

"You can expect no help from this side of the river," says the message, which was deciphered by codebreakers.

The text is dated 4 July 1863 - the day Vicksburg fell to Union forces.

At the link, you can view a photograph of the bottle and the message.

Link via Glenn Reynolds | Image: National Park Service

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Chemical Weapons Factory Now Rabbit Paradise

(Video Link)

Between 1929 and 1945, Okunoshima Island was used by Japan as a site for producing chemical weapons. Now it's a tourist attraction where people visit feral rabbits that began living there in 1971:

Today, the island is uninhabited, but the remains of the facility buildings, including gas containers and a power plant, are still there.

It is believed that rabbits were first taken to the island in 1971, after an elementary school in Takehara found it difficult to keep the animals at school. According to the Kyukamura Okunoshima resort hotel, most of the visitors to the island consisted of students on school study trips and senior tourists.

However, as the island became known as a rabbit habitat, the hotel began to receive more reservations from young women and families. The rabbits became popular for their adorable gesture asking for food.

Link via Nerdcore

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Santa's Rocket Ship

Santa's Rocket Ship was one of five custom buses made with a Christmas theme. They were built by Lloyd Laster of Tyler, TX, who used them as advertising venues:

The vehicles traveled all over the southern and southwest parts of the country taking Holiday Shoppers on joy rides while making appearances at shopping centers and malls. Each of the Santa's Rocket Ships traveled with a crew of five; a driver, two attendants, a hostess, and of course Santa Claus. Laster started in the 1950s with one Santa's Rocket Ship and had gradually built up the fleet of five Christmas vehicles by the time he retired in 1974.

Laster sold the business to another man who continued to use the vehicles for several years before it ceased to be a profitable activity. So what happened to Santa's spaceships? Tom Joslin of Jalopnik tracked down the one surviving bus at Mukluk Land, a small amusement park in Tok, Alaska.

Link | Photo: Mukluk Land

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Military Vehicle Design Inspired by Batman Movie

British defense contractor BAE Systems unveiled a concept image for an unmanned armored vehicle that was inspired by the Batmobile as it appeared in the 2005 movie Batman Begins. Project leader Hisham Awad directly attributed the design to Batmobile:

While Awad was showing one of his team’s concept vehicles, the unmanned skirmisher known as Raider, another of the assembled journalists gave a low whistle.

‘I like that,’ he said. ‘Looks like the Batmobile.’

‘Ah!’ Awad replied, with a grin. ‘Glad you said that. That’s what we based it on.’


‘Yes, we liked the look of that, so we designed something similar.’

What, the Batmobile in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight?

‘Yes, that one. You see, it turns like a motorbike and it has the same wheel configuration.’

Link via CrunchGear | Image: BAE

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Magical Beer Dispenser Pours Beer into Cups from the Bottom

(Video Link)

A company called Bottoms Up Beer designed a beer dispenser that fills up cups from the bottom. Presumably the dispenser opens and then closes a perforated hole in the bottom of the cup. Or it's magic.

via reddit | Company Website (warning: self-starting sound)

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Jedi Police Officer Uses Mind Tricks on the Job

Pam Fleming, a police officer in Glasgow, UK, is a Jedi. She's one of eight Jedi officers on the force, and she claims that she uses her supernatural abilities while at work:

She even admits to using Jedi mind tricks during interviews with suspects in 'an effort to achieve the truth', although she tells industry magazine Police Review that she does not use 'The Force' to influence what suspects say or do.

Jedi mind tricks are used in the Star Wars movies by characters Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker to 'influence the minds of weak-minded sentient beings' to get them to do what you want them to do.

PC Fleming, who is one of ten police workers - eight of them officers - at Strathclyde Police who have listed their religion as Jedi, said her faith helped her 'fight crime and disorder on Glasgow's streets'.

Link via Hell in a Handbasket | Photo: Daily Mail

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First Person Shooter in Real Life

(Video Link)

Freddie Wong, an independent filmmaker of great action scenes, is back with a live-action depiction of a first person shooter video game. Wong made this short film in response to numerous requests from fans.

via GearFuse

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Cylon Toilet Paper Dispenser

This welded steel piece by Etsy seller Supertrone holds toilet paper while flashing the iconic red Cylon lights. At Technabob, you can watch a video of it in use.

Link via Technabob

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Scientists Find Blood Vessel That Looks Like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

While studying a human brain, researchers at Newcastle University (UK) found a blood vessel that looks like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer:

Claudia Racca, of the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, who performed the experiment with colleague David Cox, said: "Biology can throw up things like this, but it was a nice surprise to find this image.

"We were looking at a section of the tissue and noticed this strange but familiar shape. "It was intriguing and we noticed the similarity to a reindeer.

"We then took an overexposed picture of it and the red blob for the nose and the white antlers showed up even better.

"We got distracted from the science at that point and had a bit of fun with the pictures of Rudolph instead.

Link via Geekologie | Photo: Newcastle University

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Magnificent Motorcycles

Dark Roasted Blend has a follow up to its previously posted gallery of exotic motorcycles. This time, you can view strange and wonderful motorcycles of the past. Among them is this 1937 military prototype with tracks in the front. It's one of three built by France. You can view these and other marvelous motorcycles at the link.

Link via Make | Photo: Kneeslider

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Active Duty US Army Ranger Named #3 Pastry Chef in the World

Master Sergeant Mark Morgan of the U.S. Army Rangers is, according to the World Association of Chefs, among the three best pastry chefs in the world. He won this affirmation in Luxembourg at a competition held every four years:

“I’m not as good as I used to be – it’s been 10 years,” the Bronze Star recipient said, referring to the past decade that he served in the 75th Ranger Regiment. He deployed twice to Iraq and four times to Afghanistan in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.[...]

His peanut butter ganache earned him third place among 55 pastry chefs. Morgan also prepared four desserts, which together, were called “Pumpkin and Spice”. They included a spiced pumpkin custard; walnut cake inside a coconut blossom; red currant compote; and a cinnamon beignet on poached pumpkin petals, a trio of cranberry, and honey, yogurt and pumpkin sorbet with a pumpkin-thyme essence.

Link via Marginal Revolution | Photo: American Culinary Federation

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German University Has Slides

The Technische Universitat in Munich has slides on campus. TreeHugger has pictures of this and other enormous slides that are increasingly appearing in non-playground environments.

Link via DVICE

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Carbon Fiber Toilet Seat

Sure, an ordinary toilet seat can withstand most, uh, loads. But if you need a toilet seat that can really take punishment without breaking, try this one made out of 550,000 psi tensile carbon fiber.

Link via Jalopnik | Photo: Carbon Fiber Gear

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Marching Band Forms Moving Football Player

(Video Link)

The marching band of the University of Hawaii performed this carefully choreographed piece during halftime at a recent game against the University of Southern California. The band members formed a stick figure football player moving across the field and kicking a ball.

via Geekosystem

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Yoshi Mech

Donald, an electrical engineer in El Paso, Texas, made this mech inspired by Yoshi from Super Mario Bros. You can see more pictures at the link, as well as similar past projects at his website.

Link via DVICE | Artist's Website

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World's Smallest Periodic Table Is Engraved on a Single Hair

Researchers at the University of Nottingham created a special birthday present for Martyn Poliakoff, a professor of chemistry. It's a periodic table of the elments inscribed on the surface of a hair from Poliakoff:

Professor Poliakoff said: “Although the application was lighthearted I felt that it enabled us to show people how such nano writing is done. Our microscopist, Dr Mike Fay, made the whole operation seem so simple and really demystified it in a most appealing way.”

Link and Video via Kotaku Previously: Periodic Table of Videos

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Profile for John Farrier

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