Apple engineer Andrew Carol pieced together 1,500 piece Lego Technic blocks to build a faithful-in-function replica of the Greek Antikythera Mechanism. Though built in ancient times (150-100 BC) it’s thought to be of comparable sophistication to 19th century Swiss clocks.
Discovered in a ancient shipwreck in 1901, it took researches decades to discover its intended purpose – as an astronomical calculator capable of predicting eclipses, the positions of the sun and moon, other planets and significant stars. It’s widely considered the first known mechanical computer.
This PSSC film utilizes a fascinating set consisting of a rotating table and furniture occupying surprisingly unpredictable spots within the viewing area. The fine cinematography by Abraham Morochnik, and funny narration by University of Toronto professors Donald Ivey and Patterson Hume is a wonderful example of the fun a creative team of filmmakers can have with a subject that other, less imaginative types might find pedestrian.
I machined the entire turbine from scratch (except the bearings and fittings) and getting thin discs affixed to a shaft such that it would be safe with steam and well balanced proved difficult. Eventually, I machined the discs and shaft from a solid piece of 2.5″ aluminum round stock, cutting away probably 95% of the material.
I later used my laser tachometer and the turbine can easily spin up to 35K RPMs. Due to my non-ideal spacing between the discs, though, I’m not getting that much torque out of it. For the next version of the disc pack rather than using a lathe parting tool to cut the discs I’ll instead make a jig to hold a hacksaw blade in the cross slide and make much narrower slots.
My workshop is located in an old storefront with a big window facing towards the street. In an attempt to create more privacy inside, I’ve decided to install a small but smart curtain in that window. The curtain is smaller than the window, but an additional surveillance camera and an old laptop provide it with intelligence: The computer sees the pedestrians and locates them. With a motor attached, it positions the curtain exactly where the pedestrians are.
The whole setup works really well. But in the end, it doesn’t protect my privacy at all. It seems that the existence of my little curtain is leading itself ad absurdum, simply by doing its job very well. My moving curtain attracts the looks of people which usually would never care about my window. It is even the star of the street, now! My curtain is just engaged. And because of that, it fails.
MechaniCards™ are miniature, hand-operated, kinetic sculptures, designed and produced in limited edition by Bradley N. Litwin. Each one is hand made, numbered and signed by the artist. They are constructed primarily from paperboard, with a few bits of wood, metal, or plastic. They make excellent gifts, and are suitable for mailing, as truly unique greeting cards. Each piece comes with complete instructions and display recommendations. They are also available as do-it-yourself construction kits.
This beautiful time-lapse movie shows the process of making sheet steel from raw materials in Magnika, Russia. It’s easy to imagine this process far removed from us until you consider every piece of metal within an arm’s reach went through this form and reform process.
from the vimeo page:
Shot in Magnitogorsk. The footage was edited in precise correspondence with the sequence of technical operations in sheet metal manufacturing at the Magnitogorsk Metallurgical Factory. The result is a serious film with deeply transcendent subject matter.