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Although current proposals for 4000 mph Maglev trains running in evacuated tubes, would offer New York to Beijing in less than 2 hours, built versions of pneumatic railways predate regular subways. Brunel built one, and an underground pneumatic railway was built by Alfred Ely Beach, in Manhattan, in 1869. The late 19th century stock market crash, depression and Civil War, destroyed the idea and little of it remains apart from the station, which features in the movie Ghost Busters II.

Pneumatic Trains

A collection of ‘personal helicopters' and flying machines.As the T-shirt says - 'the is is the future, where is my Jetpack'. It seems that Jetpacks are basically dangerous, and since the appearance at the Los Angeles Olympics, nothing much has happened. Still, there are two manufacturers that will actually build one for you, for $250,000, and you can buy a glorified fan that will propel you on an ice rink at the same speed as a puck.If you want rotor blades rather than rockets, the current options are a bit cheaper and more practical, but are still less cool than the Soviet Fold-up helicopter, from the Cold War era.

12 flying machines

Unlike today's universal cigar shaped commercial airliners, early aircraft took lots of design forms as people experimented with different principals. This is a normal trend in design, however the image of multiplanes (those with many wings) collapsing as an icon of naive understanding of flight masks an ironic truth.The most ridiculous looking items in this list are the three flying ‘venetian blinds', constructed by Horatio Phillips between 1883 and 1907, the last of which, with more than 50 wings, looks more like a wooden building frame than an aircraft. Phillips, however, was the first person to truly understand the science of flight and aerfoil shapes, so these mark one of the more rational developments in aviation history.

15 aircraft with lots of wings

The telescopes chosen for this list are largely based on how they look, from a design perspective, rather than their scientific importance. Their unusual requirements create interesting structural engineering approaches. However, the Holmdel Horn Antenna is possibly the most interesting from both points of view, its highly unusual shape is like a gigantic ear trumpet sticking out of a garden shed, but it also happens to be the device which discovered the cosmic microwave background radiation - the echo of the big bang. I've included a view beneath the mesh of the gigantic Arecibo dish, just because I always wondered what that space was like. For the rest I've chosen ones which best display the spiky, high tech look of giant scaffolds and space frames or which are attached in impossibly top heavy ways ancillary buildings, like the giant upturned umbrella of the Parkes telescope.

18 radio telescopes

A list of unusual snow vehicles, from Sno Cats and bizarre Russian snow cars to the amazing antarctic snow cruiser which is powered by a aircraft which is literally bolted to its roof. Unlike regular snowmobiles, these vehicles shuttle groups of people around the barren wastelands of places like the antarctic.

10 strange snow vehicles

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WTF is That? No. 2

March 30th, 2009 link to (permalink)

wtfisthat


The man in the picture is not being hurt. In fact people are trying to help him. What in the world is the name of this device and what does it do? Answers in the comments.



8 Responses to “WTF is That? No. 2”

  1. JJoe Says:

    Does he work for Microsoft?

  2. Andy Simons Says:

    Its a pair of electric boxing gloves?

  3. Flixter Says:

    Its an early electric chair.

  4. admin Says:

    Nope, nobody gets hurt.

  5. Indiefab Says:

    Haha. Great pic. That’s one of the first electrocardiograms. His hands are in jars of salt water with electrodes attached. And yes, I cheated. I’m a doctor. Heeheee.

  6. admin Says:

    @Indiefab. Congrats – spot on, its an Einthoven cardiograph.

    More details here: http://chem.ch.huji.ac.il/history/einthoven.html

  7. Yosemite Sam Says:

    It’s the Electrostash Generator 3000. You can see how plump his mustache is just after 5 minutes of treatment. Yes you too can have a luxurious mustache of your very own in just minutes! No more hassle and headaches attempting to look like a real man…just plug in and grow!

    With the ES 3000, you can even use the innovative ‘Select-O-Stash’ dial to choose the perfect mustache for any occasion. A Cary Grant mustache for a professional look, a Salvador Dali for those spunky days, or a Tom Selleck for when you want to impress the ladies.

    Act now, supplies are limited!

  8. admin Says:

    @Yosemite. Oh how we wish it was the Electrostash Generator 3000.

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