Pneumatic tube systems — little canisters shot through a series of tubes via the power of compressed air — have been around since the 19th century when they were briefly popular as a way to quickly deliver mail in big cities. Today, they're probably most familiar from their use in drive-through banking, but the tubes also turn up at libraries (the one at the main branch of the New York Public Library is particularly steampunky), in scientific laboratories, and in hospitals.
Last month, I spent an inordinate amount of time in one Minneapolis area hospital, waiting for an induced labor to kick in. How do you entertain yourself between the insertion of the IV line and the beginning of serious contractions? Turns out, you go on a lot of short walks, you watch some TV, and (if you're lucky) you convince the nurses to let your husband "mail" his cell phone from the labor/delivery department to the post-natal department, using the hospital's pneumatic tube system.
To make it work, we turned on both the cell phone's flashlight app and its video camera, and secured it inside the plastic cylinder with a couple of pieces of egg-crate style packing foam. The video is vertical, rather than the preferred horizontal, because that's how we were able to get the camera closest to the side of the cylinder.
While I can report that pneumatic tube systems are not full of tiny, helpful elves, we still captured some pretty nifty footage. My favorite part was the realization that the system has junctions — points where the cylinder has to briefly stop in order to allow other traffic to pass by. Also cool: It sounds like a little rocket launch.
As U.S. headlines bombard us with proof of how low humanity can go, here’s a look at a happy, peaceful, and prosperous country — The Netherlands — to remind us that it is actually possible for the human race to get it right. If people want to change present circumstances through liberal ideals, it’s helpful to look […]
Steven “Hackers” Levy has a long view of Trump: as radical as he is, he’s only a drop in the bucket compared to the political and social changes wrought by technology: “Who was king during the industrial revolution in England? The quirks and flaws of government leaders are not relevant information when studying the enlightenment. […]
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have developed a neuroprosthetic interface that creates a wireless link between the brain and the spine. In a recent experiment, they used it to enable a paralyzed monkey to walk. Via Healthglu: The brain-spine interface overcomes a damaged connection by bridging the spinal cord injury […]
Loot Crate is a totally different kind of subscription service that mails subscribers monthly boxes filled with curated geek, pop culture, and gamer paraphernalia. Its cult following awaits a box every month filled with everything from bobble heads to T-shirts to special edition collectibles. But nothing gets Loot Crate fans as excited as the limited […]
The ARMOR-X Mini Flexible Phone Tripod is a smartphone tripod that is designed with flexible legs to rest on virtually any type of surface. Other tripods have proved useless unless I conveniently have a flat surface in front of me, which is why this particular tripod was appealing enough to try out. The ARMOR-X is compact and easy […]
You don’t need to get an advanced degree and take out massive loans to become a coder. This bundle of 10 courses was designed to teach anyone to code at home for less than it costs to go out for dinner. I was particularly impressed with this new 2017 bundle because it includes courses on […]