I'm at Penguicon -- a science fiction and free software convention in Michigan -- this weekend, and my top dealer's room find were the wooden armaments of Ancient Artillery. These handcrafted wood catapaults, crossbows, arbaleses and trebuchets use taut string and precision-shaped wood to fire mini-marshmallows and nerf darts all over the room. They're quite gorgeous, and work like a charm. Read the rest
Robot Mountain Benito Cereno has compiled a partial list of the bad-ass weapons of Catholocism, which include Durendal, "which had in its hilt one of St Peter’s teeth, St Basil’s blood, a hair of St Denis, and a scrap of cloth that belonged to the Virgin Mary." Read the rest
BladesUSA offers this 14.5" "fantasy knife" that really has it all: a skull with fangs, pincers, scorpionoid body-segments, a lethal-looking stinger (perfect for inadvertent self-blinding while scratching your nose), the whole package. It comes with a wall-mounted display, though why you'd ever take it off is beyond me. (via OhGizmo) Read the rest
Last March, Evan Booth presented a blockbuster talk at Kuala Lumpur's Hack the Box conference, explaining how to improvise lethal weapons from items in airport gift shops and duty-free stores. He's kept up the work since then on a website called Terminal Cornucopia, and he's presented 10 of his scariest weapons for a Wired story. And though the functional, breech-loading shotgun made from Red Bull cans, Axe body spray, and batteries (above) is impressive, it's only for beginners. There's also fragmentary grenades made from coffee tumblers, and a dart gun that uses braided condoms for its elastic. Read the rest
Etsy seller kilroysattic makes a $60 Aliens/Xenomorph themed ring that transforms into a set of brass knuckles. Leaving aside the macho silliness of brass knuckles, it's a pretty fantastic piece, and a very clever mechanism for effecting the transformation. And the Xenomorph itself is a beautiful piece of van-art chic. If that's not your taste, check out his pirate ship/kraken ring.
These know-your-chemical-weapon posters were produced by the Medical Training Replacement Center at Camp Barkeley near Abilene, Texas as training materials for soldiers being sent to fight in WWII. They're a weird mix of cheerfulness and atrocity:
Four WWII Posters That Taught Soldiers to Identify Chemical Weapons by Smell (via Kadrey)
Of the four chemicals mentioned here—phosgene, lewisite, mustard gas, and chlorpicrin—three were used in World War I. (Lewisite was produced beginning in 1918, but the war ended before it could be used.) Phosgene, which irritates the lungs and mucus membranes and causes a person to choke to death, caused the largest number of deaths among people killed by chemical weapons in the First World War. (Elsewhere on Slate: A firsthand account of what it felt like to be hit by mustard gas.)
The smells that these posters warn soldiers-in-training to be wary of are the everyday scents of home: flypaper, musty hay, green corn, geraniums, garlic. The choice of analogies seems particularly appropriate for soldiers raised on farms—a population that would become increasingly small in every war to follow.
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.
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." Read the rest
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. Read the rest