Caleb sez, "I wanted to try making something in the style of "Q" from the James Bond movies.
My idea was to make an emergency self destruct system for laptops and portable hard drives. It turned out pretty well, it is always fun to watch stuff melt!"
I wanted to implement thermite as a self destruct mechanism inside the device. To do this, I had to come up with a way to ignite the thermite. This stuff is very difficult to light. You have to get it really really hot. The easiest way is to use magnesium, which itself isn’t the easiest thing to light.
What I finally landed on was an ignition system that uses model rocket igniters, gun powder, and magnesium to light the thermite. The model rocket igniter can be set off from the 12v line inside your computer. However, it isn’t hot enough to light magnesium shavings, much less thermite. To get it to work, I needed to add some gunpowder. A small amount of gun powder would get hot enough to light the magnesium shavings, which in turn were hot enough to light the thermite. I had to be careful though, because too much gunpowder would cause a rapid expansion, blowing the thermite everywhere instead of lighting it. You can actually see some red thermite being blown out of the external hard drive and the laptop as the gunpowder ignites.
After watching Grant Gee's documentary "Joy Division" I wanted to print the iconic cover of their first album "Unknown Pleasures" in 3D.
Unfortunately I could not find a single vector graphic or 3D model anywhere. There are articles about the history of the graphics, Peter Saville's artwork and PSR B1919+21. I even tried to visualize PSR B1919+21's waveforms. But in the end I spend an evening tracing the waves by hand.
The resulting SVG file was extruded and rendered in Processing with Richard Marxer's Geomerative and my RExtrudedMesh extension. OBJ export was accomplished with OBJExport. The model was printed on Makerbot Replicator with white PLA filament.
The 3D model and the SVG graphic are published under a Creative Commons license.
Michael McWhertor recounts Jason Rohrer's extraordinary Game Developers' Conference presentation from last March; Rohrer used a set of genetic algorithms to evolve and play-test a board-game that no human ever played, then he milled it out of a piece of titanium and buried it, along with acid-free rules encased in Pyrex, and buried it in the desert for someone to dig up in 2,700 years and play for the first time. It was in response to a design challenge called "Humanity's Last Game," and Rohrer certainly made a run at it.
To accomplish that, Rohrer first built the game in computer form, designing a set of rules that would be playtested not by a human, but by an artificial intelligence. He said he plugged the game's rules into a "black box," letting the AI find imbalances, iterating new rules and repeating. Rohrer showed the video game version of his board game onscreen, but obscured key portions of the board game's layout, so no one in attendance could reverse engineer its mechanics.
Then he set about manufacturing it. Rattling off a list of board game materials that would be unlikely to last the intended passage of time (wood, cardboard, aluminum, glass), Rohrer ultimately decided to make the game from a resilient metal. He machined the 18-inch by 18-inch game board and the pieces future players will use out of 30 pounds of titanium.
Rohrer laid out the game's rules diagrammatically on three pages of archival, acid-free paper, hermetically sealed them inside a Pyrex glass tube — which were then housed inside a titanium baton — and set about burying them in the earth.
The game is now embedded somewhere in the Nevada desert. Rohrer's not exactly sure where, as he plotted out available public land far enough away from roads and populated areas, hoping to find a suitable, desolate location to hide the game. He buried it in the desert himself, he said, turned around and walked away from the game's indistinguishable resting place.
His finale was distributing about a million GPS coordinates spread across hundreds of envelopes, and explaining that it would take one person a million days (about 2,700 years) to visit each site and check it with a metal-detector. However, my money is on this being buried somewhere along the trash-fence at Burning Man.
Back in 2009, I wrote about Taschen's amazing "Magic 1400s-1950s," which presently goes for about $300. Taschen is reissuing the book in a cheaper edition, which'll cost you $42.22 when it comes out on July 1. Here's a review on Crackajack, providing a timely reminder of what a stupendous book this is. And here's what Boing Boing reader Peacelove said about the first edition:
PeaceLove sez, "Cory's recent post mentioning the 'books as objects' phenomenon compels me to mention the extremely delectable new Taschen book, Magic, 1400s-1950s. It's gargantuan, classy, profusely illustrated and expensive but if you are a magician or magic fan, you've just found the perfect holiday gift (hint, hint). Authors Mike Caveney and Jim Steinmeyer, along with contributor Ricky Jay, are all professional magicians, scholars and historians of the first rank. This is a serious work, as well as a gigantic love letter to the 500+ 'golden years' of magic."
As legions of disappointed Batman fans have discovered, the Victor Hugo novel is just not very good. It's one of Hugo's later works, written from exile in the Channel Islands, and it's a meandering political treatise grafted onto a novel. But there is a novel in there, buried amongst the self-indulgence and sloppiness, and it's this that author David Hine and illustrator Mark Stafford have teased out to make an absolutely stunning and grotesque new work.
The titular Man of Laughs is Gwynplaine, a horribly deformed boy who rescues a blind baby from her frozen mother's breast and then rescued by a traveling doctor who takes them both in and turns them into performers. They tour the countryside, and Gwynplaine and his blind adopted sister Dea fall in love, even as their mountebank father, Ursus, teaches them about the injustices of the English monarchy and shows them the relationship between the dire poverty around them and the fatted lords and ladies in London.
Gwynplaine's destiny becomes further entangled with the English aristocracy when he is discovered to be a long-lost nobleman himself, and is inducted into the House of Lords, where he makes impassioned, revolutionary speeches that fall on deaf ears -- and is forced to confront that all the riches he's gained have cost him his family and his love.
This adaptation is remarkably streamlined and razor-sharp, flensed of Hugo's excess by Hine's pen; the accompanying grotesque illustrations by Stafford hit the perfect mix of horror and sorrow. The Man Who Laughs is out in the UK now, from the great press Self Made Hero, and will be out in the USA on Oct 1.
UPDATE: "Vimeo has removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by The David Foster Wallace Literary Trust claiming that this material is infringing: THIS IS WATER - By David Foster Wallace."
Here's a beautifully made video accompaniment to "This is Water," an excerpt from a David Foster Wallace commencement address to Kenyon College in 2005, in which Wallace exhorts his listeners to empathize with the people around them, using examples and languages so beautifully chosen that they just about break your heart.
But most days, if you're aware enough to give yourself a choice, you can choose to look differently at this fat, dead-eyed, over-made-up lady who just screamed at her kid in the checkout line. Maybe she's not usually like this. Maybe she's been up three straight nights holding the hand of a husband who is dying of bone cancer. Or maybe this very lady is the low-wage clerk at the motor vehicle department, who just yesterday helped your spouse resolve a horrific, infuriating, red-tape problem through some small act of bureaucratic kindness. Of course, none of this is likely, but it's also not impossible. It just depends what you what to consider. If you're automatically sure that you know what reality is, and you are operating on your default setting, then you, like me, probably won't consider possibilities that aren't annoying and miserable. But if you really learn how to pay attention, then you will know there are other options. It will actually be within your power to experience a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that made the stars: love, fellowship, the mystical oneness of all things deep down.
Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true. The only thing that's capital-T True is that you get to decide how you're gonna try to see it.
SF/thriller writer Iain Banks has weighed in to quash a rumor that he only wrote his amazing SF novels to pay the bills because the (also amazing) high-brow literary thrillers didn't bring in enough:
I wish I did have the time to reply to everybody individually but I don’t. I think I’ll only comment on any of the posts if there’s something factually wrong mentioned in them, and so far the only point I can remember is one where an ex-neighbour of ours recalled (in an otherwise entirely kind and welcome comment) me telling him, years ago, that my SF novels effectively subsidised the mainstream works. I think he’s just misremembered, as this has never been the case. Until the last few years or so, when the SF novels started to achieve something approaching parity in sales, the mainstream always out-sold the SF – on average, if my memory isn’t letting me down, by a ratio of about three or four to one. I think a lot of people have assumed that the SF was the trashy but high-selling stuff I had to churn out in order to keep a roof over my head while I wrote the important, serious, non-genre literary novels. Never been the case, and I can’t imagine that I’d have lied about this sort of thing, least of all as some sort of joke. The SF novels have always mattered deeply to me – the Culture series in particular – and while it might not be what people want to hear (academics especially), the mainstream subsidised the SF, not the other way round. And… rant over.
Wisconsin's Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream has some refreshingly honest ad-copy on the side of its vans. The photo was snapped by a Consumerist reader named David, and shows a van whose advert disclaims any nutritional merit, proudly proclaiming "gobs of rich Wisconsin cream" as well as lots of "real ingredients" (whatever those are). My own experience has been that eating food high in grass-fed animal fat is good for me, so that sounds about right to me -- though carrots are good, too!
Ben Kokes wanted to give a ring to his sweetheart, and to make it interesting, he decided to create a ring with an inductive loop that would cause the stones to light up when they were close to a power-source. He documented the tricky technical problems that cropped up during the build, and it sounds like the romance part came out well, too:
The final idea was to embed a LED and copper coil assembly inside the titanium ring, illuminating it from under the stones when it was in close proximity to an induced alternating magnetic field (henceforth called 'the transmitter'). Autodesk Inventor helped me develop all of the dimensions and constraints for the design. Having some help, I was able to obtain her ring size and the rest of the measurements were based from there (15.72mm if anyone was wondering)...
Of all the challenges presented in making the ring, affixing the stone is the most difficult. Traditionally, stones are affixed by mechanical means -- prongs, groves or snaps. Epoxies will delaminate from the attachment surfaces due to microstresses, thermal cycling, and other unmentioned movements. The stone may be attached now, but eventually it will fall out. It's just a matter of time.
With that in mind, I had 4 initial ideas for affixing the stone: thermally expanding the hole, hole deformation, point expansion deformation, and epoxy. Ultimately, I went with the epoxy method for attaching the stones.
The first test was to try and heat the ring, expand the hold and drop in the stone. When the hole cooled and contracted, it would hold the stone in place. Not only does the hole not expand enough, if I was lucky enough for it to happen (it did once), the stone would fracture along pre-existing crack lines.
Brian Ashcraft updates us on the astounding foam-art of Osaka barista Kazuki Yamamoto. Yamamoto has now mastered 3D foam, and is blowing my mind. Ashcraft has a series of posts documenting the journey of Yamamoto to undisputed novelty foam king of the Pacific Rim.
1. Attempt to re-express your target's position so clearly, vividly and fairly that your target says: "Thanks, I wish I'd thought of putting it that way."
2. List any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
3. Mention anything you have learned from your target.
4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.
And if that wasn't enough: "whenever you see a rhetorical question, try – silently, to yourself – to give it an unobvious answer. If you find a good one, surprise your interlocutor by answering the question." And then, "A good moral to draw from this observation is that when you want to criticise a field, a genre, a discipline, an art form …don't waste your time and ours hooting at the crap! Go after the good stuff or leave it alone."