Biophysicist Designs Drip-Free Wine Bottle

Brandeis physicist Daniel Perlman modded a wine bottle so wine wouldn't dribble when it was poured. Why didn't the wineries figure this out a couple of hundred years ago?

Perlman studied slow-motion videos of wine being poured. He observed first that drippage was most extreme when a bottle was full or close to it. He also saw that a stream of wine tends to curl backward over the lip and run down the side of the glass bottle because glass is hydrophilic, meaning it attracts water.

Using a diamond-studded tool, Perlman, assisted by engineer Greg Widberg, created a circular groove around the neck of the bottle just beneath the top. A droplet of wine that would otherwise run down the side of the bottle encounters the groove, but can’t traverse it. Instead, it immediately falls off the bottle into the glass along with the rest of the wine.

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I made my own ink for the apocalypse

Meg Elison is a high school dropout and a graduate of UC Berkeley. Her debut novel, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, won the 2014 Philip K. Dick Award. Its companion, The Book of Etta, is now available. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and writes like she’s running out of time.

As an author of apocalyptic fiction, I get letters from all over the globe from people who are more prepared for the end of the world than the average individual. Many of them focus on the more popular aspects of prepping: growing and/or storing food, conserving water and even building their own cisterns, and weapons training and storage to be ready for the worst. When I first started writing in this subgenre, I thought about my own odds of survival in the worst sort of worlds. Nobody really survives nuclear war, so I didn’t build a bomb shelter. I’m not the fastest of my friends, so I hope to provide means of escape for them by being tasty zombie food. But those slow apocalypses allow for me to examine what my own role might be in another kind of world. The question is: would writers still write? Could I, if I had the time?

In my second book, it’s been a century since Bic and Parker and Pilot shut down. There are no new pens and ink isn’t as simple as one might think. In most cases, it’s a complicated combination of pigments, fixatives, and preservatives. Read the rest

How to make a coin sorting machine from cardboard

The Q made this nifty coin sorting machine from cardboard. Read the rest

William Powell, author of The Anarchist Cookbook, RIP

William Powell, author of the iconic counterculture how-to guide The Anarchist Cookbook, died last year of a heart attack. His death was just made public. As a teen, I learned many important things from The Anarchist Cookbook: mixing iodine crystals with ammonia is indeed explosive, smoking banana peels won't get you high (contrary to the book), and Rikers Island is to be avoided. Powell wrote the book when he was 19 and disavowed it later in life after becoming a Christian. The Anarchist Cookbook remained in print, much to his chagrin. “The central idea to the book was that violence is an acceptable means to bring about political change,” he wrote on the book's Amazon page. “I no longer agree with this.” From the Los Angeles Times:

“The Anarchist Cookbook,” which has sold at least 2 million copies — printed, downloaded or otherwise — and remains in publication, was originally a 160-page book that offered a nuts-and-bolts overview of weaponry, sabotage, explosives, booby traps, lethal poisons and drug making. Illustrated with crude drawings, it informed readers how to make TNT and Molotov cocktails, convert shotguns to rocket launchers, destroy bridges, behead someone with piano wire and brew LSD.

The book came with a warning: “Not for children or morons.”

In a foreword, Powell advised that he hadn’t written the book for fringe militant groups of the era like the Weathermen or Minutemen, but for the “silent majority” in America, those he said needed to learn the tools for survival in an uncertain time.

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Water-cooled 72,000 lumen LED flashlight

Last spring, Samm Sheperd created this amazing overclocked, water-cooled LED flashlight that pumps out 72,000 lumens, using about $700 worth of parts. Read the rest

Famous Monsters of Filmland's 1965 guide to home monster makeup

The Do-It-Yourself Monster Make-Up Handbook is a 1965 classic: Famous Monsters of Filmland founder Forrest Ackerman tapped movie makeup legend Dick Smith to create guides for turning yourself into any of three Martians, two kinds of werewolf, a "weird-oh," a "derelict," a ghoul, a mummy, Frankenstein's monster, Quasimodo, Mr Hyde, "split face," and more. Read the rest

Favorite tools of Danielle Applestone, CEO of Other Machine Co.

Our guest this week on the Cool Tools Show is Danielle Applestone. Danielle is a material scientist, co-founder and CEO of Other Machine Co., the leading manufacturer of high-precision desktop CNC milling machines. Formerly, Danielle ran a DARPA project to develop digital design software and manufacturing tools for the classroom. Danielle's team took that technology and launched Other Machine Co. in 2013.

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Show notes:

Monarch Instrument Examiner 1000 ($1,200)

"I came across this electronic stethoscope as part of our manufacturing process. We would get motors from a manufacturer that looked balanced and met a spec, but once we put the whole machine together, sometimes a machine would have a lot of vibration and we didn't know how to quantify that vibration or to know what was good or what was bad. … There’s a lot of intuition when you're putting something complicated together like "Well, it feels right," or "It doesn't feel right." That's really hard to do so we found this amazing thing, which cut a ton of time out of our manufacturing process and now we have beautiful graphs of everything. We know exactly what things vibrate and which ones don't. You can use it on musical instruments. It's an amazing tool. Once you have one you realize how much you needed one in your life.”

Bicycle inner tubes with holes in them

"I came across bicycle inner tubes with holes in them through a friend who had made a sail boat that was attached only with these bicycle inner tubes —it was a catamaran. Read the rest

Scott Weaver's incredible toothpick sculptures

By day, Scott Weaver is a grocery store clerk. When he's not working, he's making elaborate sculptures out of toothpicks and Elmer's Glue. His tool is a nail clipper. His largest work is called "Rolling Through the Bay." It's a 9-foot sculpture of San Francisco. You drop a marble in it at the top, and it will take a rolling tour through Coit Tower, Chinatown, the Golden Gate Bridge, and other landmarks. It took him over 3,000 hours over a 30-year-year period to make it, and it has 105,387 and 1/2 toothpicks.

I saw Scott's work at Maker Faire a few years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. This video is part of an excellent series called "Coolest Thing I've Ever Made." Read the rest

Open source hardware, IoT motorcycle kit you assemble in a weekend

Fictiv is a rapid prototyping company that can take concepts or finished designs and farm them out to a network of CNC and 3D printing companies to have your design fabricated, finished and delivered within 24 hours; to demonstrate their new open IoT platform, they've announced an open-source hardware IoT motorcycle kit that you're meant to be able to assemble in your garage in a weekend, and drive off on by Monday. Read the rest

Why choose between Nixie and Edge-Lit, when you can have a LED Lixie?

Lixie is an open-source hardware, LED-based edge-lit display that combines the look of Nixie tubes with the techniques invented for their distant ancestors, the edge-lit display. Read the rest

A kid-friendly electronics board that you can program from the web

Peegar is an Arduinio-style electronics kit that you design programs for by dragging and dropping Scratch-style objects around in a browser; when you're done, the program is converted to a brief snatch of sound that you transmit through the board by plugging a standard audio cable into your device's headphone jack. Read the rest

Kickstarting a car-hacking tool that lets you take control of your own vehicle

The fully-funded Macchina project on Kickstarter is an Arduino-based, "open, versatile" gadget that bypasses the DRM in your car's network, allowing you to configure it to work the way you want it to, so you can customize your car in all kinds of cool ways. Read the rest

A master of miniature model-making shares his hard-earned secrets

I first discovered David Neat’s work via his website where he delves deeply into all sorts of fascinating interests, from furniture design to natural history to art. Mainly what drew me there was his extensive tutorials on all aspects of miniature model-making. The amount of content he’s posted is staggering, as is the quality of everything. Read comments about David’s site (or this book) and you will hear from seasoned pros, surprised by how much they’ve learned from David’s work.

Model-Making: Materials and Methods collects some of David’s best content from the site. While only 176 pages, this book manages to cram in a lot of eye-opening tips and techniques for building miniatures. David comes from the theater set-building world and teaches design and model-making, mainly with theater, TV, and movie models in mind, but the techniques in this book can be applied to all forms of model-making, from dioramas and dollhouses to tabletop miniature games and train layouts. Chapters cover model construction, molding and casting, working with metals, creating surfaces and textures (one of David’s strong suits), and finishing techniques.

I love a book that has so much to offer, you can simply poke your head into it for a few minutes and you’ve added a few more wrinkles to your brain by the time you put it down. Model-Making: Materials and Methods is such a book.

Model-Making: Materials and Methods by David Neat Crowood Press 2008, 176 pages, 8.5 x 0.5 x 11.0 inches, Hardcover $33 Buy on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink. Read the rest

Casemodder builds a tiny, perfect living room inside a PC

The craftperson behind this wonderful, tiny room inside a PC tower is unknown, but they have a flair for detail and style -- dig that tiny newspaper! (via Crazy Abalone) Read the rest

1922 house and furnishings made entirely from varnished paper

Having successfully invented the paperclip-bending machine, engineer Elis F. Stenman set out to build a new summer home for himself in Rockport, Mass in 1922, entirely from paper. Read the rest

"Artisanal" Nintendo console cartridge hacker creates impossible alternate history games

Josh Jacobson is a Nintendo cartridge hacker who makes homebrew cartridges for games that were never released for NES/SNES, complete with label art and colored plastic cases that makes them look like they came from an alternate universe where (for example), there was a Nintendo version of Sonic the Hedgehog. Read the rest

The MakeShift Challenge (or what would MacGyver do?)

For its first five years, Make: magazine ran a column called "MakeShift," edited by Lee D. Zlotoff, creator of the TV show MacGyver. The idea was to present Make: readers with a MacGyver-esque challenge in each issue, collect all of the submitted solutions, and then publish an analysis, along with all of the top submitters' notes and sketches, on the Make: website. The "MakeShift" challenge asked readers to ponder such conundrums as how to contain a viral outbreak on a plane, how to charge your phone with nothing but camping gear and a propane torch, how to fend off a zombie attack, and how to get help after a very bad fall.

The reader-responses were impressive. People really put a lot of thought into their solutions, sending copious notes and drawings. And in fully explaining the challenges and ranking the solutions in the follow-up website articles, Lee and Make: editor Bill Lidwell shared a lot of great MacGyvering tips and nutshell science and engineering.

Sadly, years ago, the "MakeShift" columns disappeared when a dedicated magazine area of the Make: site was discontinued. So, a few weeks ago, Make: decided to bring back "MakeShift," now publishing re-constituted columns every Wednesday. Here are the first three posted.

Dead Car Battery You're 50 miles into mountainous woods, your battery is dead, and there's a big snowstorm bearing down. How can you revive your dead battery? On, and it's a automatic transmission. Potable Water You're in a village in East Asia and the water has become dangerously contaminated. Read the rest

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