John Farrier's Blog Posts

What Would Happen if the Earth's Rotation Stopped?

Scientists used geographic modeling software to come up with a realistic answer to an unrealistic question: what would happen if the earth ceased its rotation?

If earth ceased rotating about its axis but continued revolving around the sun and its axis of rotation maintained the same inclination, the length of a year would remain the same, but a day would last as long as a year. In this fictitious scenario, the sequential disappearance of centrifugal force would cause a catastrophic change in climate and disastrous geologic adjustments (expressed as devastating earthquakes) to the transforming equipotential gravitational state.

The lack of the centrifugal effect would result in the gravity of the earth being the only significant force controlling the extent of the oceans. Prominent celestial bodies such as the moon and sun would also play a role, but because of their distance from the earth, their impact on the extent of global oceans would be negligible.

If the earth's gravity alone was responsible for creating a new geography, the huge bulge of oceanic water—which is now about 8 km high at the equator—would migrate to where a stationary earth's gravity would be the strongest. This bulge is attributed to the centrifugal effect of earth's spinning with a linear speed of 1,667 km/hour at the equator. The existing equatorial water bulge also inflates the ellipsoidal shape of the globe itself.


Link via Nerdcore | Photo: NASA

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Toilet Go-Kart



The car blog Jalopnik got an email about this unique go-cart, built by a man named Dave:

A whopping 6.5 hp, 32 mph, twin-throne action, and all the TP you can stand. Ain't America great?

We get emails like this all the time. "Come look at my toilet go-kart," they say. "It's the best toilet kart in the world," they say. "You'll love it, and you can flush your cares out the exhaust, and seriously, 32 freaking mph on a twin-pot crapcan that just might kill you if you look at it funny."


Link via DVICE | Photo: Jalopnik

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7 Real Plans for Using Nukes Peacefully

Have you heard of the proposal to end the Gulf of Mexico oil leak by nuking the site? At DVICE, Kevin Hall writes about other engineering schemes that involved using the explosive force of nuclear weapons in peaceful (if perhaps crazy) ways. For example, if the Panama Canal is too narrow, just blast a wider channel with a few controlled explosions:

We could have all grown up with the Pan-Atomic Canal instead of the Panama Canal we know today. That is, if Operation Plowshare ever took off (the government's term for using nukes in construction, including the highway-blasting idea above and the harbor you're about to read about below). Building the Panama Canal was a long, deadly process. Also many ships are too big to traverse the canal. To make everything easier, why not just nuke it wide open? Well, radioactive fallout was a huge concern, and that fear even scrapped plans to use atomic bombs to create entirely new canals.


Link | Photo: US AID

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200 MPG Motorcycle



Allert Jacobs spent three years and $5,000 building a motorcycle that gets 200 miles to the gallon. It's based on the Honda Innova design, but heavily modified to make it more aerodynamic:

He first built a resistance-reducing nose cone in 2007, in an attempt to increase his Honda Innova 125i’s 114-mpg rating. That design fell short, so he built a 1:5 scale model, followed by a full-size polyurethane and wood mold. By 2009, he was crafting the fiberglass shell. Steel tubes welded to the bike’s frame attach it, and a frame and rails added to the front of the bike allow the front of the shell to slide forward like a door and lock shut. Last winter, he even made aerodynamic cones with indicator lights for his side-view mirrors.

Most of the mileage boost comes from the aerodynamic shape, but Jacobs also converted the bike’s automatic clutch to manual to keep it from slipping. Altogether, the changes worked: On one long trip, the bike got 214 miles per gallon.


Link | Photo: Hans Pieterse

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Back to the Future II Powered Laces


(YouTube Link)


Do you remember the powered shoe laces from the movie Back to the Future II? Instructables user blakebevin made one and provided instructions on how you can build your own:

Why wait until 2015? Inspired by 'Back to The Future II', this project is less 'Practical' than 'Proof of Concept', but hopefully it'll tide you over until Nike comes out with something more polished. This was also the first time I worked with an Arduino microcontroller, and I wanted to get some experience with the little guy. Operation is quite simple- step into the shoe and a force sensor reads the pressure of your foot and activates two servo motors, which apply tension to the laces, tightening the shoe. A touch switch reverses the servos. Due to budget constraints, I only modified one shoe. Where did I put that darn sports almanac?!


Link via Make

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Cockpit Photogallery



Steven Leckart of Wired compiled a gallery of enormous photos of the cockpits of six extreme vehicles:
  • Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird (a military jet)

  • Oasis of the Seas (a cruise ship)

  • Hydrogen ICE Streamliner (a rocket car)

  • Grave Digger (a monster truck)

  • Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner (a jetliner)

  • Triton 1000/2 (a personal submarine)

  • Pictured above is the cockpit of the Blackbird.

    Link via The Presurfer | Photo: Dan Winters | Previously: Gallery of Military Aircraft Cockpits

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    BP's Completely Real Oil Drilling Board Game

    In the 1970s, BP and a gaming company called Printabox made a board game about offshore oil drilling. It was called BP Offshore Oil Strike:

    Up to four would-be tycoons can compete at exploring for oil, building platforms and laying pipelines to their home countries.

    But BP Offshore Oil Strike players must also avoid the dreaded ‘hazard cards’, which state: ‘Blow-out! Rig damaged. Oil slick clean-up costs. Pay $1million.’[...]

    The mint-condition game, made by Scottish company Printabox, was donated by a private collector to The House On The Hill Toy Museum in Stansted, Essex. It was very rare and ‘obscure’, said museum owner Alan Goldsmith, who added: ‘The parallels between the game and the current crisis... are so spooky.


    Link via Kotaku | Photo: Masons

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    10 Hilarious Amazon Reviews



    Oddee has screenshots of ten funny Amazon.com reviews, such as this customer's complaint about faulty packaging for a shipment of uranium ore. What a ripoff! I hope he got his money back.

    Link via Ace of Spades HQ

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    Cardboard Warfare


    (YouTube Link)


    Cardboard Warfare is a short film by Clinton Jones that depicts an extended combat scene with cardboard weapons. They look like rifles, grenades, and tanks made out of cardboard boxes, but nifty special effects make them deadly. Production involved:

    - 254 program crashes
    - 427 manual frames to rotoscope
    - 59 layers of sound effects
    - a BUTTLOAD of cardboard and box cutters
    - and a katamari


    via Geekologie

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    Floating Tanks



    English Russia reports that during the 1950s, the Soviet Union developed floating tanks. Engineers attached pontoons to T-54 tanks and drove them into the water:

    PST-U consisted of five pontoons that were filled with plastic foam. Total weight of the device was 10 tonnes. Buoyancy reserve (with T-54 tank) was 40%. Maximum speed of tank with the floating device was 19 km/h ashore and 12 km/h afloat. The floating device was equipped with its own fuel tanks with a capacity of 500 litres; equal to coverage of 60-80 kilometers distance without any tank’s fuel consumption.


    At the link, you can find more pictures and diagrams.

    Link | Photo: English Russia

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    The Big Bang by Blu


    (YouTube Link)


    We've previously posted the wonderful murals and stop-motion animation of the artist Blu. This video is his depiction of the Big Bang and the evolution of life. The story is told with moving murals that sprawl over an urban landscape.

    Link via Albotas | Artist's Website

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    Rubber Tires into Art



    Brett Graham is a Maori artist who explores the intersection of Western art and that of his tribe, the Ngati Koroki. In an exhibition in Sydney entitled "Weapons of Mass Destruction", he recreated Western weapons using steel, medium density fiberboard, and rubber tires. Pictured above is "Te Hokioi", modeled after the Lockheed F-117 stealth fighter and inscribed with Maori symbols.

    Link via DudeCraft | Artist's Website | Photo: Design Boom

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    Concrete Sofa



    This couch is a solid block of concrete. It was made by the British firm Grey Concrete as a demonstration of their new, precise molding techniques:

    The sofa is made by taking a mold from a real Chesterfield, which is then used to make a glass textile reinforced casting. The cushions are a part of the casting. Before making the mold, the padding inside the cushions was replaced with a rigid foam which was modeled to make “bum prints.” The molding techniques used by Gray Concrete pick up detail really well so the concrete sofa really looks leathery. There’s even a concrete 50p piece stuck down behind one of the cushions to complete the realistic effect.


    Link via OhGizmo! | Company Website | Photo: Design Milk

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    Bare Knuckle Boxing Is Actually Safer than Using Gloves

    In a 2007 article in The Independent (UK), sports historian Nicholas Hobbes explains that gloves were introduced to make competitions bloodier and briefer. Gloves distribute a blow, but they also add weight to a punch, making it more destructive:

    The Marquess of Queensberry rules took off not because society viewed the new sport as more civilised than the old, but because fights conducted under the new guidelines attracted more spectators. Audiences wanted to see repeated blows to the head and dramatic knockouts.

    By contrast, the last bare-knuckle heavyweight contest in the US in 1897 dragged on into the 75th round. Since gloves spread the impact of a blow, the recipient of a punch is less likely to be blinded, have their teeth knocked out or their jaw broken. However, gloves do not lessen the force applied to the brain as it rattles inside the skull from a heavy blow. In fact, they make matters worse by adding 10oz to the weight of the fist.

    A full-force punch to the head is comparable to being hit with a 12lb padded wooden mallet travelling at 20mph.[...]

    As the bare-knuckle campaigner Dr Alan J Ryan pointed out: "In 100 years of bare-knuckle fighting in the United States, which terminated around 1897 with a John L Sullivan heavyweight championship fight, there wasn't a single ring fatality." Today, there are three or four every year in the US, and around 15 per cent of professional fighters suffer some form of permanent brain damage during their career.


    Link via Super Punch | Photo by Flickr user loura used under Creative Commons license

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    Woman Wins Lottery for the Fourth Time

    Joan Ginther of Bishop, Texas has won multi-million dollar lottery payouts four times. Most recently, she won $10 million:

    Each of Ginther's triumphs has netted her a seven-figure sum of money and her winnings now top $20 million.

    Her first success was in 1993, when she won half of an $11 million Texas Lottery jackpot. She then had something of a dry stretch, going a whole 13 years without another win. Then, in 2006, she won $2 million with a scratch–off ticket.

    In 2008 it was $3 million prize from a scratch card. On Monday, she claimed her biggest win yet in the Extreme Payout competition.


    Link via Stuff | Photo (unrelated) by Flickr user Robert S. Donovan used under Creative Commons license

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    The Bridge of (Padlocked) Love

    The Bridge of Love in Vrnjacka Banja, Serbia, is a place where young women traditionally go to affirm their ardor for their lovers. A woman will write the name of her beloved on the lock, attach it to the railing, and then toss the key into the river. From a travel website:

    If not for the padlocks that cover its railings, you might not even notice the Bridge of Love in the center of Banja. Though it is just one of 15 bridges in Vrnjacka Banja this bridge with a sad story has become the symbol of the city.

    Locals tell the story of Relja and Nada, two young lovers who would meet here every night before WWI. Once the war broke out, Relja, who was an officer in the Royal Army, went off to war and never came back. He moved to Greece, married, and forgot all about Nada. Heartbroken, Nada waited for him on the Bridge of Love until her dying day. To avoid reliving Nada’s bitter love story, local love struck girls started coming to the bridge every night to secretly “lock up” their boyfriends’ hearts with padlocks. They did this with the hope of holding on their love for all eternity.


    Link via Dumage via Digg | Photo: TrekEarth user bacasha75

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    Ecuadoran Drug Smuggling Submarine

    Law enforcement agents in Ecuador discovered a fairly modern, long-range submarine built by narcotics smugglers. It was about to launch for a trip to North America:

    The sophisticated camouflaged vessel has a conning tower, periscope and air-conditioning system. It measured about nine feet high from the deck plates to the ceiling and stretched nearly a 100 feet long. The DEA says it was built for transoceanic drug trafficking.

    "The submarine's nautical range, payload capacity, and quantum leap in stealth have raised the stakes for the counter-drug forces and the national security community alike," said DEA Andean Regional Director Jay Bergman.

    It is unclear how far the camouflage-painted submarine could have traveled, but it is believed to be sophisticated enough to cover thousands of miles — and certainly to make it to the North American coast.


    Link via Patterico | Photo: EPA/Jaime Echeverria

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    Are Lolcats a Sign of Human Progress?


    (YouTube Link)


    Clay Shirky is a tech pundit and a professor of new media at New York University. In this video, he argues that lolcats represent human progress because they are a demonstration of "cognitive surplus" -- excess time that people have to be creative. Shirky reasons that the simplistic creative act of making a lolcat is superior to any merely passive interaction with media, and is therefore progressive. Do you agree?

    via Fanboy | Official Website

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    Solar System Necklace



    Laura Cesari made a set of beaded necklaces that are patterned after the orbits of our solar system. Each one shows either the entire solar system or a planet and the orbits of its moons in proportionate distances:

    Years ago, I discovered a particularly nice piece of agate in a friend's bead shop that reminded me of Jupiter, and created a "Jupiter necklace" with other beads orbiting around it like moons. In the Solar System design, I decided to "zoom out" and focus on using small beads to measure the proportional distances between the planets. It took some calculations, a few abstractions, and a couple of prototypes: the first version was 75 inches long, made with 7-millimeter tubular glass bugle beads, each bead representing about 20 million miles. This Solar System Necklace design seemed like a good way to translate the mind-boggling distances of space into something tangible, something that people can measure physically with familiar objects.


    Link via Make | Photo: Make

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    Pizzacone



    Pizzacone is a new Manhattan restaurant where you can buy the contents of a pizza stuffed into a cone:

    The dough cones are shipped to Pinto daily from a Connecticut bakery, and each Pizzacone is made to order at the counter; you tell them what ingredients to add, and then it's cooked in the oven for five minutes. The result, according to one early guinea pig, is as convenient as it is delicious. "Tastes like a pizza," Victor Nelli, a TV producer, tells the Daily News. "You can totally walk with it, and you don't have the oil dripping all over you."


    What say you, Neatoramanauts: awesome or disgusting? Or both?

    Link via reddit | Photos: redditor Measure76

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    Tree-Climbing Dog


    (YouTube Link)


    Nissa, a Border Collie owned by YouTube user Epic1, will stop at nothing to get her frisbee back.

    via Bits & Pieces | Previously: Tree-Climbing Collie

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    Wave Rock



    Wave Rock is an unusual landform in southwestern Australia. It looks like a giant wave of water that is about to crash. This feature was caused by the erosion of soft rock below the harder top. It measures 14 meters high and 110 meters long.

    Link via The Presurfer | Photo by Flickr user tostao meravigliao used under Creative Commons license

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    Sculpted Pencil Leads



    Artist Dalton Ghetti sculpts pencil leads. The work is very challenging, and he often works on multiple projects, so it can take him a decade to finish a single piece. From a 2007 article about him in The New York Times:

    “The pencil tip is great; it’s like a pure, very homogenous material,” he said. “It cuts in the same direction, not like wood, which has a grain. But when I tell people how long it takes, that’s when they don’t believe it. That’s what amazes people more, the patience. Because everything nowadays has to be fast, fast, fast.”


    Gallery and Article via DudeCraft | Photo: Cooked Brains

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    Image of the Only Nuke Ever Detonated in Space



    This is a recently-declassified US government photo of a hydrogen bomb detonating in space. The test, called Starfish Prime, set off the nuke 250 miles above the Earth's surface. NPR explains that the US did so see if the Van Allen radiation belts around the Earth had military uses:

    The plan was to send rockets hundreds of miles up, higher than the Earth's atmosphere, and then detonate nuclear weapons to see: a) If a bomb's radiation would make it harder to see what was up there (like incoming Russian missiles!); b) If an explosion would do any damage to objects nearby; c) If the Van Allen belts would move a blast down the bands to an earthly target (Moscow! for example); and — most peculiar — d) if a man-made explosion might "alter" the natural shape of the belts.


    Video at the link.

    Link via DVICE

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    Landlocked Navies of the World

    It might seem odd that nations with no access to the ocean would maintain naval forces, but many do. Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, for example, keep many naval vessels on the enormous Caspian Sea. Switzerland and Burundi have armed patrol boats on their border lakes. These forces, however, are not separate military entities, but integrated into the other armed forces. What makes the following nations unique is that they maintain separate military organizations identified as navies, but these forces have access only to inland rivers and lakes.



    Boliva once had a substantial coastline, but lost it after a defeat by Chile in the War of the Pacific (1879-1884). Bolivia has never forgotten this blow and did not disband its navy, though it lacked anywhere on the sea to base it. Instead, it rebuilt its flotilla of ships on Lake Titicaca, a large lake that it shares with its wartime ally Peru. Every year, on March 23, the nation commemorates "Bolivia Sea Day" and its representatives at the United Nations call upon Chile to return the territory. The Chilean government is not adverse to the notion of retuning a narrow corridor of territory along its northern border, but Peruvian objections and other issues have so far prevented a resolution of this border dispute. In the meantime, the Bolivian Naval Academy trains navy and marine corps officers to lead the 4,500-man force. The sailors experience actual sea duty serving in the navies of friendly Latin Amercian neighbors. And the fleet of fourteen patrol boats, six transports, two hospital ships, and two research vessels patrols Lake Titicaca and several tributary rivers of the Amazon -- all in preparation for the day when Bolivian territory again reaches to the Pacific Ocean.



    Paraguay, to the east, never had access to the sea. But its economy is tied to the Rio Paraná and the Rio Paraguay, so it has longed maintained a substantial brown water navy. This would prove essential to preserving its independence during the War of The Triple Alliance (1864-1870) against Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay. It fought gallantly but unsuccessfully at the Battle of Riachuelo (1865), one of the largest riverine engagements in modern naval history. Today, its 2,500 sailors, including 500 marines, protect the nation's rivers on sixteen patrol boats, three amphibious assault ships, and seven support vessels. After basic training in-country, Paraguyan sailors gain experience in the navy of Argentina before assuming their duties at home.
    Continue reading

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    Disco Chair



    London-based design firm Kiwi & Pom made the "Disco Chair." It has 200 meters of electroluminescent wire in different colors that can be flashed on and off. You can view more pictures at the link.

    Link via Technabob | Photo: Kiwi Pom

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    Mysterious Horse Boy Reappears on Google Street View

    A man wearing a fake horse's head -- or, alternatively, a man who has the head of a horse -- was spotted on Google Street View's presentation of Aberdeen, UK. This mysterious creature has reappeared on a different image:

    While no-one knows who Horse Boy is or what the point of him is, there are theories. Some bloggers think he will turn out to have been part of a corporate publicity stunt. Others point out that buying a plastic horse mask is not beyond the wit of man. A commenter on the BBC website said: "Horse boy isn't a person, it's a cheap mask - for example I saw at least three people wearing similar heads at this year's Download Festival in Donington."

    Nonetheless he has become an international phenomenon. Stefan Kleen from Germany said he met horse-boy at a festival: "He only spoke English so we didn't really talk a lot to him." He has also apparently been spotted in Norwich and Cardiff.


    In the comments, express your hypothesis on the nature of Horse Boy. The weirder, the better.

    Link | Photo: Google

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    Transparent Animals



    The information that I have on this picture is a little sketchy because the original site is in Japanese. But rumor has it that Japanese scientists photographed the skeletons of small animals through their flesh and then dyed the results with vibrant colors. The result is a set of quite lovely pictures. More at the link.

    Link via Nerdcore | Image: Albatro.jp

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    Recently Discovered Fossils Push Back Date of First Multicellular Life on Earth by 1.5 Billion Years

    Paleontologists recently found fossils in Africa that indicate that multicellular life evolved on Earth 1.5 billion years before previously thought:

    "The cursor on the origin of complex multicellular life is no longer 600 million years ago, as has long been maintained, but more like 2.1 billion years," said Abderrazak El Albani, a researcher at the University of Poitiers and lead author of the study.

    The findings were published in the British journal Nature.

    Up to now, conventional scientific wisdom held that the planet was populated only by single-celled microbes until the so-called Cambrian explosion, a major surge of biodiversity that began some 600 million years ago.


    Link via The Presurfer | Photo: CNRS

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    100 Greatest Movie Insults of All Time


    (YouTube Link)


    Harry Hanrahan edited this video packed with 100 vicious insults from movies. At the link, you can view a list of the featured films (warning: self-starting sound).

    Content warning: foul language.

    Link via Nerd Bastards

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