World's largest Rubik's Cube you can solve by hand

University of Michigan mechanical engineering students have built "the world's largest hand-solvable, stationary" Rubik's Cube. Fashioned primarily from aluminum, it weighs 1,500 pounds but can be manipulated by one person. The puzzle is available for solving in the campus's mechanical engineering building. From Michigan Engineering:

They realized they couldn’t simply scale up the approach a handheld cube relies on because the friction would be too great. So to keep friction minimal, they devised a setup that utilizes rollers and transfer bearings.

“This is a truly amazing and unique kinematic mechanism that functions as a Rubik's cube,” said Noel Perkins, the Donald T. Greenwood Collegiate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and advisor to the students.

“There is no other human-manipulable cube like this, to the best of our knowledge. That said, it is not technically the largest cube. We're aware of a larger cube that requires the user to literally roll it on the ground to solve and rotate the faces. None of that is required by our stationary design. So to be very precise, it is the world's largest stationary, human manipulable Rubik's cube.”

Read the rest

This is one of the world's most complex intersections

Constructed in 1972, the Magic Roundabout in Swindon, England contains five small clockwise roundabouts located around a sixth counterclockwise roundabout.

Read the rest

The baby daddy of Boston Dynamics' BigDog robot

This is CAM (cybernetic anthropomorphous machine), a "walking truck" designed by Ralph Mosher at General Electric in 1965. It may not be as rough-and-tumble as Boston Dynamics' BigDog but it was certainly more fun because the operator rode inside of it! From Wikipedia:

The stepping of the robot was controlled by a human operator through foot and hand movements coupled to hydraulic valves. The complex movements of the legs and body pose were done entirely through hydraulics. The hydraulic fluid and pressure was supplied through an off-board system. The walking truck was one of the first technological hardware design applications to incorporate force feed-back to give the operator a feel of what was happening.

Read the rest

Watching a balloon pop underwater in slow motion is deeply psychedelic

Warped Perception trained their Phantom Flex 4K Slow Motion Camera on an air balloon popping underwater. The result is wonderfully trippy, especially in high-definition. (via Nerdist)

Read the rest

Research principles from the legendary Xerox PARC

Founded in 1970 as Xerox's R&D division, PARC was a dream factory that brought the world laser printing, Ethernet, the graphical user interface that led to Windows and the Macintosh, ubiquitous computing, and many other technologies that we now take for granted. Why made the place so damn special? Alan Kay, who pioneered networked computing while at Parc, lays out a few of the principles of the research community of which Parc was a hub:

1. Visions not goals

2. Fund people not projects — the scientists find the problems not the funders. So, for many reasons, you have to have the best researchers.

3. Problem Finding — not just Problem Solving

4. Milestones not deadlines

5. It’s “baseball” not “golf” — batting .350 is very good in a high aspiration high risk area. Not getting a hit is not failure but the overhead for getting hits. (As in baseball, an “error” is failing to pull off something that is technically feasible.)

6. It’s about shaping “computer stuff” to human ends per the vision. Much of the time this required the researchers to design and build pretty much everything, including much of the hardware — including a variety of mainframes — and virtually all of the software needed (including OSs and programming languages, etc.). Many of the ARPA researchers were quite fluent in both HW and SW (though usually better at one than the other). This made for a pretty homogeneous computing culture and great synergy in most projects.

7. The above goes against the commonsense idea that “computer people should not try to make their own tools (because of the infinite Turing Tarpit that results)”.

Read the rest

Classic songs of love and heartache if they were Stephen King novels

Artist Butcher Billy brilliantly reimagined 1970s and 1980s songs about the dark side of love as if they were Stephen King paperback covers from the era. The series is titled Stranger Love Things.

Read the rest

Multitool in a hairclip

I have no hair. But if you do, and it's long, consider this MTA Hairclip that doubles as a stainless steel multitool containing a screw driver, wrench, ruler, cutting edge, and trolley coin to unlock a shopping cart. It's also available in slightly different pink and black models that include a bottle opener.

They're $9 from Amazon. Read the rest

Mystery Science Theater 3000 does Stranger Things

Here we go, "into the grayish brownish world of the early 80s..."

Read the rest

Russian computer animated cat from 1968

In 1968, Russian computer scientist Nikolai Nikolaevich Konstantinov and his colleagues at Moscow University created this computer animation of a cat using their Big Electronic Counting Machine (BESM). Their research, published in the scientific journal "Problems of Cybernetics, was pioneering in its use of mathematics to model complex motion. More about the research here, in Russian: Кошечка (etudes.ru via r/ObscureMedia)

Read the rest

Hacking your microbiome with DIY fecal transplants

Biohacker Josiah Zayner suffered from persistent digestive problems so he decided to undertake an extreme self-experiment: He isolated himself in a hotel room, took massive doses of antibiotics, and then gave himself a fecal transplant to transform his own microbiome. Mark Frauenfelder and I interviewed Josiah about biohacking, cheap genetic engineering kits, and, of course, his own full body microbiome transplant in this episode of For Future Reference, a new podcast from Institute for the Future:

Please subscribe to For Future Reference: iTunes, RSS, Soundcloud Read the rest

Hans Zimmer performs "Inception" live at Coachella

By all accounts, German soundtrack composer Hans Zimmer's performance at Coachella last night was magnificent. Here he leads his talented orchestra in a rousing, tension-inducing Inception medley.

Read the rest

Why shoelaces become untied

Why do shoelaces suddenly become untied? Mechanical engineer Oliver O'Reilly and his UC Berkeley colleagues have just published a scientific paper exploring this mystery of the ages. According to O'Reilly, understanding how simple knots work, and then don't, could lead to better knots for surgery, protect undersea optical networking cables from breaking, and enable more realistic animations of hair in computer graphics. From Nature:

The scientists expected that the knots would come undone slowly. But their slow-motion footage — focused on the shoelaces of a runner on a treadmill — showed that the knots rapidly failed within one or two strides. To figure out why, O’Reilly and his colleagues used an accelerometer on the tongue of a shoe to measure the forces acting on a knot. They found that when walking, the combined impact and acceleration on a shoelace totals a whopping 7 gs — about as much as an Apollo spacecraft on reentry to Earth’s atmosphere.

Further experiments demonstrated that simply stomping up and down wasn’t enough for a knot to fail; neither was swinging it back and forth. It took the interlaced effects of the two forces to undo the knot: the repeated impacts loosened it while the changes of direction pulled on the laces.

Read the rest

Watch razor-wielding racing drone play real-life Fruit Ninja

Perhaps it's a rather dangerous idea but it is still creative and entertaining.

Read the rest

Elusive cat interrupts Miami Marlins baseball game

The MVP of last night's Miami Marlins-Atlanta Braves game was the cat who ran around the outfield before climbing a wall and watching the game from an animatronic home run sculpture.

"He stayed up there for four innings," said (Marcell), the Marlins' left fielder. "Every time I went on defense, I looked up there and the cat was hiding its head. I said, `What are you doing up there?' In the last inning I didn't see it. I don't know where he went."

(CBS News)

Read the rest

Incredibly weird and "lifelike" Ren and Stimpy masks

Tested visits sculptor Andrew Freeman who made these wonderfully creepy and hyperreal Ren and Stimpy masks!

Read the rest

Learn 12 different accents in under four minutes

Dialect coach Sammi Grant gives a crash course in a dozen different accents including my favorite, the Transatlantic accent. (Think Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. More on that here.)

"I’m legally blind and one of the reasons I got into dialect coaching is because I love to hear people’s voices and help people find the range of their voices," Grant says.

(via Laughing Squid)

Read the rest

Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" played on a Korean gayageum

In her latest video, Luna Lee, master of the gayageum, plays a stunning version of the David Bowie classic.

Read the rest

More posts