What ouija boards and military contractors have in common

The power of suggestion, your own expectations, and even your emotions can cause your body to move without you actively telling it to. This weird phenomenon is called the ideomotor effect. It's what makes ouija boards work and it's the mechanism behind $60,000 bomb-detecting devices that an American company was recently caught selling to the Iraqi government. Needless to say, the devices did not actually detect bombs.

Ugo Serrano: armorer


Daniel sez, "Ugo Serrano is the greatest living armorer, really. A man who camps at the Pennsic war in a 15th Century Italian villa (hat he built/designed that also flat-packs for storage and transportation). The props he makes for the movie/television industry are a who's who of geekdom from Firefly to Riddick to the Haunted Mansion through Zorro. A man whose art helped begin the entire steampunk movement, yet he's almost unknown outside of the SCA, where his themed parties are as legendary as his tent. If you catch him at the right time, he'll give you a pilgrimage badge that he cast in pewter by hand, just for taking the tour.

Ugo Serrano

Update: In the comments, Chris Gilman sez, "I would like to correct the above artical. Ugo is a talented guy and love him dearly, but I built and own the Italian house and if you catch me at the right time, I will give you a pilgrimage badge, made by Robert MacPherson, who in my opinion is the greatest living armourer."

Cody R Wilson's 3D-printed guns: the VICE documentary

Erin Lee Carr produced this VICE Motherboard documentary on Cody R Wilson of Defense Distributed (DD), who "figured out how to print a semi-automatic rifle from the comfort of his own home" and is now spreading the gospel of "wiki weapons." Yes, they even have a manifesto.

Wilson, who recently pitched his ideas at SXSW, is sharing the HOWTO online and encouraging others to join him.

Read the rest

Amazing photos of 1946 nuclear weapons test

Baker was a 23-kiloton nuclear weapon that was detonated underwater at Bikini Atoll in 1946. The goal was to see what would happen to Navy boats if they were in the region where a nuclear bomb went off. The boats you see in this photo were unmanned, but there were sailors relatively close by, taking these shots. There's evidence that they weren't properly protected against fallout, and later used contaminated water to drink and bathe in. (Also, as a fictional side effect, Bikini Atoll nuclear tests like Baker might have been responsible for the creation of Spongebob Squarepants.)

My Modern Met has compiled several photographs and video that give you an up-close, mind-boggling view of the explosion — including the massive column of water that shot into the mushroom cloud and the 2-mile-high tidal wave that followed.

DIY weaponry of Syria's rebels

NewImage

The Atlantic has a fascinating photo gallery about the DIY Weapons of the Syrian Rebels. Homebrew explosives are the norm, as are catapults (Reuters photo above) and tele-operated machine guns controlled with scavenged video game controllers.

Forging the Game Of Thrones sword

Master blacksmith Tony Swatton of Sword & Stone is Hollywood's favorite weapons maker. Here he is forging Jaime Lannister's sword for "Games of Thrones."

Death Star petition reaches 25,000 votes

David Kravets: "A petition demanding the President Barack Obama administration build a Death Star like the one in Star Wars reached 25,000-plus signatures Thursday, a threshold requiring the government to respond whether it will build the fictional weapon capable of annihilating planets with its super laser." [Wired]

3D printed gun fires 6 shots - then falls apart

Defense Distributed, a group that is developing free designs for weapons made on 3D printers, tested out a firearm that has a plastic lower receiver made on a 3D printer. It successfully fired six rounds before splitting.

HaveBlue claimed in July to have fired his printed gun hundreds of times, which doesn't seem impossible given the quality of the printing. The part printed by the group is called the lower receiver, which is where a round is received from the magazine. Pictures show it to be very well made, and it appears to fit exactly to the other parts in the gun kit they used.

But the pressure of the recoil appears to have been too much for the "buffer ring," which separates the stock from the upper receiver. After firing just six shots, the gun split in two. It's a serious setback, especially considering they were firing a lower-caliber cartridge than the gun would normally shoot.

3D printed gun fires 6 shots - then falls apart (Thanks, Lew!)

Previously: Defense Distributed

US goes after bloggers for writing about imaginary laser weapon that could set insurgents’ clothes on fire

A number of journalists I know believe the Obama administration is the most secretive administration yet.

When I read news like this, I am inclined to believe them: the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is going after our pals at Danger Room, over a 5-year-old leak about a weapon that was never built.

"Federal agents are also chasing a leaker who gave Danger Room a document asking for a futuristic laser weapon that could set insurgents’ clothes on fire from nine miles away."

Total bullshit.

Russia's nuclear sledgehammers


Russia's nuclear missile bunkers reportedly come standard-issue with a sledgehammer whose designated purpose is smashing open the safe containing the launch-codes, should the combination not work:

The sledgehammer's existence first came to light in 1980, when a group of inspecting officers from the General Staff visiting Strategic Missile Forces headquarters asked General Georgy Novikov what he would do if he received a missile launch order but the safe containing the launch codes failed to open.

Novikov said he would “knock off the safe’s lock with the sledgehammer” he kept nearby, the spokesman said.

Russian Missile Forces Have ‘Safe Busting’ Sledgehammer (via Super Punch)

Tactical stabbing pen adds handcuff key and other stuff


The Uzi Tactical Defender Pen goes beyond the usual "if it's stabby and matte black, it's tactical" realm, adding in a DNA-Catcher (a snaggy bit), a hidden handcuff key, a glass-breaker, and a writes-upside-down-and-underwater cartridge. It's not even black.

Are you expecting the unexpected? Does expecting the unexpected make the unexpected expected? Either way, the Uzi Tactical Pen turns a mere pen into a life saving tool. The DNA Catcher on the crown of the pen is very sharp and can be used to deliver a very nasty jab to an attacker, causing extreme pain and giving you a sample of their DNA to use when you go to the police. Not expecting to get attacked? The crown also doubles as a glass breaker if you ever get trapped in your vehicle... If things get really bad, you can always rely on the hidden handcuff key inside the top of this pen. This badass writing utensil is made of high-grade aircraft aluminum and writes upside down or under water. If you can find a situation where you use all of this pen's features and live to tell the tale, we probably owe you some sort of prize.

Uzi Tactical Defender Pen (via Red Ferret)

Instructions on a smoke grenade: Don't be a dick


An unnamed brand of smoke grenade includes "Don't be a dick with our products" in its instructions. Apparently this is Canadian (judging from the bilingual instructions).

Smoke grenade instructions.. (imgur.com) (via Lowering the Bar)

Yes Tool: copper demolition axe


Homeland Security Equipment is one of those blandly-named and blandly-designed sites that contains unexpected delights, such as the wicked Yes Tool, a demolition axe made entirely of copper. It even has the de riguer bottle opener, so you can drink the flat, sun-skunked beer of the apocalypse. [Thanks, Tim!] Previously: The Annihilator

Czechoslovakian tank helmets

From the Joseba Revuelta collection, photos and commentary (in Spanish) on vintage Czechoslovakian tank-helmets, which were apparently accessorized to the nines.

CASCOS CARRISTAS CHECOOSLOVACOS (via Making Light)

Officer Vader suit for your riot-control needs


If you're feeling alone and vulnerable in a big, troubled world, Amazon has this "Damascus FX1 FlexForce Modular Hard Shell Full Body Crowd Control System," which will provide you with the physical protection and the emotional distance necessary to beat, gas, and detain your fellow human beings. All for a mere $545.95!

The FX-1 FlexForce Modular Hard Shell Crowd Control System is the ultimate high-threat level riot control, domestic disturbance, and cell extraction suit. The FlexForce design provides substantial protection from blunt force trauma without sacrificing the fit or comfort. The suit is lightweight and ranks highest in easy to put on or take off in a moments notice. The front and back hard shell panels have a modular flex design allowing for all shapes and sizes to fit comfortably with out sacrificing much needed mobility. The forearm guard offers a much more comfortable elbow portion of the pad, which allows more flexibility. The knee/shin guard has a non-slip surface, which keeps you planted in position. The FX-1 is a considerably improved fitting system compared to competitor models and is worn by forces worldwide.Upper Body and Shoulder Protection.Hard shell front and back panels feature a unique Damascus 3-panel flex design for optimum movement, fit and comfort.

I love that it's a "system" and not a "Hallowe'en costume for terrified control-freaks and mall-ninjas."

Damascus FX1 FlexForce Modular Hard Shell Full Body Crowd Control System, Medium (via Red Ferret)