Love this August, 1935 article from Science and Mechanics magazine about the hulking, three-ton ballistic computers -- reminds me a lot of the way that Asimov and Heinlein both wrote about "big brains" in their fiction over the next couple decades:
The "fire, control" machines, now used to plot the flight of shells from modern guns in moving ships, against moving targets, deal with practical conditions like this; and the machine pictured could answer a question of this nature, as well as a good many others less specialized. For instance, three or more heavenly bodies (like Earth, Sun, and Moon) are moving in their orbits at different rates of speed and varying distances, attracting each other. What will be the combined result of their forces, in changing the positions of each, in a given period? It is an enormously difficult proposition for the best mathematician in the world. With this machine, its ten "integrators" would be adjusted (by setting dials) to represent the varying factors of the problem, and then started turning. The friction discs and gears of the machine would operate on each other, each of them with an effect proportioned to the energy and speed it represented; and, on the final chart at the "answer table" of the machine (see illustration) a curve would be drawn by a metal pen, representing the formula desired (not necessarily a physical picture of the motion of one of the heavenly bodies, but a mathematical picture of it).
Behold, the Blue Marlin, a “semi-submersible heavy lift ship” that is capable of hoisting and transplanting other, full-sized ships (that is ships as big or bigger than a US Destroyer-class vessel) all around the oceans.
Mister Alphabet is an action-figure designed to cleverly bend and contort into every letter of the Latin alphabet; the website is long on trademark warnings and arty Instagram photos, but short on details, like, “Is this an object of commerce?” and “If so, where does one buy it?” (via Kottke)
Phone chargers usually only deliver a few volts of juice at a feeble amperage, but they’ll deliver a lot more if you give them the chance. The BBC writes that a UK man died in the bathtub after being shocked by a charger connected to an extension cord. Richard Bull, 32, died when his iPhone […]
When you can’t wait for the world’s longest meeting to end, the mindless leg bouncing makes your boredom obvious and just annoys everybody else. Everyone knows the TPS reports need the damn cover sheet, but some sadistic colleague keeps forgetting, probably on purpose just to eat into your lunch hour. Enough is enough!While serving a […]
What could be more fun than a slingshot that shoots tiny airplanes? A slingshot that shoots tiny glowing airplanes of course! These toy planes are outfitted with ultra-bright LEDs, so you can fly all night without losing them in the trees.Whether you are a regular-sized child, or an overgrown adult one, these light-up flyers offer […]
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand […]