Marvelous scans of Leonardo da Vinci's journals

London's Victoria and Albert Museum has digitized and posted two of Leonardo da Vinci's personal notebooks. From The Art Newspaper:

“The notebooks remind us that Leonardo was as much an engineer as he was an artist. When he wrote in the early 1480s to Ludovico Sforza, then ruler of Milan, to offer him his services, he advertised himself as a military engineer, only briefly mentioning his artistic skills at the end of the list,” (says Catherine Yvard, Special Collections curator at the V&A’s National Art Library.)

Codex Forster I dates from the time Leonardo spent at the Milanese court and focuses on hydraulic engineering, featuring drawings of instruments for digging canals and for moving and raising water. It also includes a treatise on geometry and measuring solids.

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Video explainer on universal quantum computers

Universal quantum computers have the potential for exponentially faster processing speeds. Seeker looks at where things stand in the race to build the first one. Read the rest

Watch Skippa the rock-skipping robot get optimized

Skipping stones takes a little practice and finesse, so Mark Rober enlisted his extended family to help build the perfect rock-skipping robot. Their creation, named Skippa, ended up helping humans learn, too. Read the rest

Watch a very detailed overview of the latest innovations for power in space

Improved super-thin solar panels and nuclear fission are all in development to handle the massive logistical problems of meeting power needs in space. Fraser Cain takes viewers through the newest developments, including NASA's new Kilopower Reactor. Read the rest

Watch a nanorobot build a microscopic house on the tip of a fiberoptic filament

A team led by Jean-Yves Rauch at FEMTO-ST demonstrated the μRobotex nanofactory's capabilities by building a tiny origami house from silica membranes. Read the rest

Watch thousands of robots pack groceries in a warehouse

Ocado robots zip around simultaneously filling orders without bumping into each other in this fascinating look at a modern warehouse. Read the rest

How armored vehicles stop bullets

YouTuber JerryRigEverything had a chance to fire some bullets at a bullet-proof car. The physics are interesting to watch as the energy disperses into the materials in slow motion. Read the rest

MIT students create and circulate open source, covert RFID rings to subvert campus tracking system

A reader writes, "A couple years ago MIT changed their dorm security/student tracking policy. They hired security contractors to work in dorms and required everyone to tap their RFID cards upon entry (no vouching for friends/guests). Most students complied. Some moved out. Some got in trouble ;)" Read the rest

Creepy new spy camera is so small it could be hiding anywhere

If you're not already wearing a tinfoil hat, it may be a good time to start: a pair of engineers based out of the University of Michigan have figured out a way to create a light-powered camera sensor that's only a millimeter in size: small enough to be practically invisible to a casual observer.

According to a paper published in IEEE Electron Device Letters by Euisik Yoon and Sung-Yun Park, the new camera has the potential to not only be insanely small, but also, self sustaining, thanks to a solar panel placed directly behind the camera's image sensor, which is thin enough that light, in addition to what's needed to create an image, is able to pass right through it. This could provide the camera with all the power it needs to be able to continue to capture images, indefinitely.  At a maximum of 15 frames per second, the images it captures aren't of the best quality, but they're more than adequate for creeping on an unsuspecting subject.

The good news is that, for the time being, the camera is nothing more than a proof-of-concept. In order for it to be deployed in the real world as a near-invisible surveillance device, someone a lot smarter than me will need to figure out how to store image data and transmit it using hardware that's just as discrete as the camera's image sensor and power source are.

Fingers crossed that it'll take them a while to work those issues out.   Image via pxhere Read the rest

This is the best NSFW explanation of the Florida bridge collapse

If you like sweary Canadians with lots of knowledge about building materials and construction, Arduino versus Evil has the most interesting armchair analysis of what caused the Florida International University bridge collapse. Read the rest

Aerial footage of a Volkswagen diesel car graveyard in California

To date, Volkswagen has bought back about 350,000 diesel vehicles in the wake of the massive environmental fraud they committed around emissions testing. Here's one of 37 VW graveyards. Read the rest

Watch military swarm drones lock on and surround a target

Autonomous weapon bans (previously) are currently being debated, but in the meantime, the US Department of Defense continues work with its Perdix Micro-Drone project. Ostensibly for surveillance, it's clear these could easily be modded with lethal weaponry. Read the rest

Massive cruise ship sliced in half to embiggen it

Silversea Cruises has sliced their massive Silversea ship in half so that they can inset a 15 meter (50 feet) extension and increase the ship's capacity by 15 percent. While this kind of thing is commonly done to convert regular automobiles into stretch limos, the company describes this undertaking as a "rarely performed feat of maritime architecture." From CNN:

The elaborate engineering feat, underway at the Fincantieri Shipyard in Palermo, Italy, requires over 500 skilled workers and will take up approximately 450,000 man hours.

A prebuilt 15-meter extension (almost 50 feet) has already been inserted with "military precision" to stretch Silver Spirit from 195.8 to 210.7 meters.

(Thanks, Kelly Sparks!)

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This 1936 film celebrates maker culture (boys only, please)

The 1936 All-American Soap Box Derby is a fascinating look at the ethos and mores from the height of the soap box derby craze. While it's cool to see maker culture valued and celebrated, it's certainly not very inclusive. Read the rest

Watch a virtual 360-degree tour of BookBot library retrieval system

BookBot is a nifty book retrieval system at North Carolina State University's James B. Hunt Jr. Library. Here's a panoramic book's-eye view of the retrieval process. Read the rest

Ever wonder how land surveying devices work? Watch and learn

A theodolite is that gizmo on a tripod used by land surveyors. This explainer shows how they work, and discusses how they shifted from analog devices to the modern digital ones. Read the rest

Watch these robots measure and saw wood

People who need custom furniture in the future may be able to feed the design into a program and then have robot-assisted carpentry do the rest. Read the rest

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