Watch this gorgeous two-valve Stirling engine in action

YouTuber Latheman demonstrates a nicely-designed V2 Stirling engine powered by two spirit lamps. Impressively smooth action on this beauty! Read the rest

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.”

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Shoelace knots fail catastrophically, thanks to 7 gees' worth of stress

Update: Whoops, David got there first!

In a new paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, researchers from UC Berkeley reveal that shoelace knots do not gradualy come loose, as was previously supposed -- rather, they fail catastrophically and suddenly, thanks to strange and surprising stresses that they must endure. Read the rest

Guy builds his own single-seat thrill ride

Daniel de Bruin built a homemade thrill ride that looks a bit like if The Zipper merged with a camera jib on steroids. The video says the machine reacts to the rider's biometrics, but it doesn't really show how a rider's heart rate changes ride speed. Read the rest

Watch a gentleman ride his craptacular gas-powered horse

Is this the worst mechanical horse of all time? Chinese farmer Su Daocheng built it to plow his fields and also says he built a homemade helicopter. Probably best to decline rides in both vehicles. At least the head looks nice. He also makes cool mechanical sculptures in his spare time, like this: Read the rest

Video: maker of incredible working model engines

Retired naval mechanic José Manuel Hermo Barreiro makes incredibly intricate models of engines like the V-12. (via Devour) Read the rest