The Cannonball Loop originally opened at New Jersey's Action Park in 1985, but then shuttered after a week amid safety concerns (caution trolling more likely). This image is of a 90-foot prototype in testing in Missouri.
"The central challenge facing any vertical looping water slide design is friction - caused by skin, bathing suits or riders who slow themselves down with their hands or feet. Without enough speed, you won’t make it through the loop.
Sky Turtle solved the friction problem by eliminating the human variable. Riders are enclosed inside an aluminum alloy-framed capsule that maintains constant contact with the flume via replaceable foam runners."
The 1985 loop:
Vertical looping water slide, long thought impossible, in test phase [LA Times]
via Seth Porges (@sethporges) Read the rest
Disney Research teamed with ETH Zürich students to create Beachbot, a robot that creates pre-programmed sand drawing. Read the rest
This humongous power-plug is a MacArtney Wet Mate Connector that allows undersea cables for floating windmills to be connected below the water's surface.
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The Haynes Build Your Own V8 Engine ($65.62) sounds fantastic -- the lengthy selection of positive reviews confirm the manufacturer's claim that a "talented 10 year old" could assemble it, and it can be disassembled and reassembled, which makes it great for classrooms, camps and studios. (via Red Ferret)
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Duke Engines demonstrate a new kind of internal combustion engine, based on a crazy, hypnotic, rotary system. I lack the mechanical engineering chops to know whether this is any good, but it's fun to watch.
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This is a thermonuclear weapon, lodged in a field in North Carolina where it landed after falling from crashing B-52 on January 24, 1961. Some new documents detailing the history of the Goldsboro Incident were declassified this week.
Besides information the history of Goldsboro and several other near-disaster, the documents focus on problems with nuclear arsenal safety during the Cold War. The documents particularly focus on issues with weapons design. At Goldsboro, for instance, the weapons ended up armed (increasing the risk of an actual detonation) because the manual arming switch was designed in such a way as to allow it to turn itself on in response to the force of the plane crash.
The documents also discuss the risks of "sealed-pit" weapons, which were designed with the plutonium or uranium core already sealed into the warhead — unlike earlier designs that required operators to insert the nuclear material when the bombs were ready to be used. The sealed-pit design greatly increased the risks associated with lost or accidentally dropped bombs, as in the case of Goldsboro. Read the rest
The winners of Purdue University's Rube Goldberg Machine Contest show off their creations on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Read the rest
This is the Hughes Glomar Explorer, a ship that's as important to the history of engineering as it is to the history of insanely crazy Cold War CIA schemes.
In 1970s, the CIA used this ship to capture a sunken Russian nuclear submarine — i.e., lifting a 2000-ton object from a depth of three miles to the surface. It was the most expensive intelligence operation ever and it only kind of worked. Read the rest
MIT researchers built a 70-pound robot "cheetah" meant to demonstrate the high efficiency of a new electric motor design. Among other improvements, the design enables the impact energy of the robot's leg hitting the ground to be captured and fed into the robot's battery. Soon, they expect the motors to enable the cheetah-bot to gallop at 35 mph which, of course, is still just half the speed of a real cheetah. However, it will hit those speeds much more efficiently than other running robots. Read the rest
Did you know that Albert Einstein and Leó Szilárd once invented a refrigerator
? And a life-saving refrigerator, at that. Read the rest
Popular Science has a great slideshow of tools
used to make the sort of fancy, $15 cocktails that are served to you by gentlemen wearing handlebar mustaches. From CNC routers that carve ice, to drinks aged in sous-vide machines, to repurposed lab equipment like centrifuges and rotary evaporators, it's a cool behind-the-scenes view of the gadgets used by the modernist bartender. (Random shout-out to Peder at Marvel Bar!) Read the rest
Bryan Cantrill from Joyent explains
why the company expects engineers not to use gendered pronouns in documentation: "empathy is a core engineering value—and that an engineer that has so little empathy as to not understand why the use of gendered pronouns is a concern almost certainly makes poor technical decisions as well." Read the rest
In Japan, engineers are attempting to contain radioactive contamination from the Fukushima power plant by freezing the ground around it into "ice walls" that will remain frozen for years
. At Nova, Jessica Morrison writes about this weird technique, which has been around for over half a century and is more commonly used as part of massive construction projects with large underground components, including Boston's Big Dig. Read the rest
The term "gonzo journalism" gets thrown around pretty loosely, generally referring to stuff that's kind of shouty or over-the-top, but really gonzo stuff is completely, totally bananas. Case in point is James Mickens's The Slow Winter [PDF], a wonderfully lunatic account of the limitations of chip-design that will almost certainly delight you as much as it did me.
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The iceberg wasn't the only thing that took down the Titanic, explains Yale University materials scientist Anissa Ramirez. Instead, cold temperatures in the icy North Atlantic changed the behavior of the materials that made up the boat — changes that reduced the ocean liner's ability to withstand a head-on iceberg collision.
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How the ancient Romans created color-changing glass goblets
that shifted colors based on what you put in them. Read the rest
507 Movements brings to life Henry T Brown's 1868 treatise "Five Hundred and Seven Mechanical Movements, Embracing
All Those Which Are Most Important in Dynamics, Hydraulics, Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, Steam Engines, Mill and Other Gearing, Presses, Horology, and Miscellaneous Machinery; and Including
Many Movements Never Before Published
Several Which Have Only Recently Come Into Use," and includes selected animations of the mechanisms. Hypnotic and educational!
507 Mechanical Movements
(via O'Reilly Radar)
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