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oobject: 'daily user-ranked gadget lists'
Despite the uninteresting name, these rectifiers are one of the most beautiful gadgets ever made. As a result they are often seen if films and are quintessential elements of mad scientist labs, yet few people could name them or know what they were used for. Invented at the beginning of the 20th Century, Mercury Arc Rectifiers were like spectacularly large versions of the Tubes in pre-transistor era electronics. They were used to convert electricity from alternating to direct current.

mercury arc rectifiers

No other chair extracts more money than the one you sit in to have teeth extracted. Dental chairs have become a testing ground for high tech wizardry and ergonomics, evolving from decorative Victorian models worthy of Dr. Frankenstein's lab., to space-age pods with insect-like composite limb attachments.

dental chairs through history

Machines designed to smash large tough items into small bits, including a machine that eats trees whole, and yes, a real bone crusher, that makes fertilizer from animal bones.

Industrial crushing machines

Obviously the design criteria for four wheeled vehicles are somewhat different on other planets. This has yielded some of the most bizarre and fascinating vehicles ever proposed, from the giant Mobility Test Article test driven by Wernher von Braun to todays rovers which have ditched the most expensive component of all, the driver.Here are a variety of some of both classic and unusual space rovers from prototype to flown.

cars in space

According to Bismarck the two things you should never see being made are laws and sausages. Here we reveal the machines involved in the process that is less stomach churning – it involves taking meat and making it into a brown paste then putting it into a colon, traditionally pigs intestines but now plastic. The irony of this being the exact reverse of eating and pooping, obviously hadn’t been lost on the German general.There are no more distressing images here beyond what you’d see in the meat section at the supermarket (merely gross ones), but the clip for the Advanced Meat Recovery System which is accompanied by some smooth dinner jazz and whose opening caption reads ‘preparing the beef neckbones with a bandsaw’ wins a prize for lack of sensitivity.

15 Videos of Sausage Making Machines

Creating the illusion that a staircase is floating in mid air has become a recent design trend. It can be achieved using a glass balustrade and hidden bolts, hanging the treads from above, cantilevering the stairs from a concealed beam or by using the structure of a spiral shape to make the entire staircase self supporting. Here are some of our favorites.

12 floating staircases

Old shoes doesn’t sound interesting but I managed to find some fine examples, from the incredibly short and tall Venetian Chopines which had 2 foot soles for courtesans to wade through sewage lined streets to the opposite shaped long skinny medieval Poulaines which had toes stuffed with moss. Interestingly the worlds oldest shoes come from the New World, or Oregon to be exact.My personal favorite are the Roman shoes from the time of Constantine, whose style show just show eastern or to our eyes, Arabic, the Empire would have felt at that time.

old shoes

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Design elegance: How USB took over the world.

April 20th, 2009 #link

Belkin released a trivial looking gadget today which demonstrates how USB has become the universal standard interface. It turns the car cigarette lighter, which in turn had morphed into a universal charging interface, into a USB one.

There are many features which made USB a successful standard but there are 2 which stand out and made it truly elegant:

1. software and drivers could be stored in peripherals themselves, and transferred, finally removing the headache of configuring external devices.

2. both data and power are carried across USB allowing things such as external drives to have one less cable and a lot less fuss.



6 Responses to “Design elegance: How USB took over the world.”

  1. Design elegance: How USB took over the world. | oobject - Daily … Says:

    [...] Here is the original post:  Design elegance: How USB took over the world. | oobject – Daily … [...]

  2. Ryan Says:

    Could do with a rethink, they are large and prone to damage and failure.

    But wooo! Go USBs.

  3. c-dub Says:

    From a formal point of view, the USB is a flawed design from the get-go. Having a connector with bilateral symmetry is daft: there’s no clear and obvious way to determine which way the connector should be oriented when plugging the device in. It’s Design 101: the orientation of any connector to its receiving socket should either be A) immediately intuitive, or B) immaterial. Considering the amount of creative thinking that went into the design of the USB, I can’t imagine how that was overlooked.

  4. admin Says:

    @c-dub. That’s a fair point, the symmetry is definitely poor from an ergonomics perspective.

  5. Ganderpoke Says:

    Guys, Gals, there is a suggested spec for USB plugs…. the USB logo goes on the Upper or outer side when its printed or embossed on a cable line plug. as for USB drives, the little thumb thingies, the side with the holes goes upwards and outwards. Or it SHOULD if the guys building the connectors followed the rules too. You can lead a horse to water but you cant make it wear a bathing suit.

  6. c-dub Says:

    Ganderpoke, you made my point for me. If you need a paragraph to explain how the parts mate, the design is inherently flawed.