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For sheer baroque complexity of appearance, planetarium projectors are among the most amazing gizmos ever built. They range from enormous machines more than 20 ft. high to a soccer ball sized $300 home version.Their purpose is a bizarre reversal of a large optical telescope, taking an internal view of the the universe and projecting it on a dome, rather than creating a view from peering outside of one, but the aesthetic is somewhat similar. Another curious similarity is how much they look like some early satellites.Our personal favorites are the original Zeiss, Mark I and the truly amazing machine built by the Korkosz brothers for the, appropriately named, Seymour Planetarium.

16 incredible planetarium projectors

At first glance this lesser known part of the telephone inventor’s life seems crazy. Bell became obsessed with pyramids, building towers, buildings, boats, kites and eventually planes made entirely out of little tetrahedrons (triangular pyramids). Eventually setting up the Aerial Experiment Association, he built 3 tetrahedral kite planes where each pyramid frame component had 2 of its 4 sides covered in fabric.His obsession, however, was ingenious and is possibly feasible – that if you could fly a pyramid frame structure then by combining lots of them together you would be adding no more weight per unit of lift, so you could fly a structure of any size.Although only one of Bell’s planes managed to fly under its own power, the tetrahedral frame structure was to become a much used component of high tech architecture more than half a century later, giving these images of the Victorian inventors a bizarre science fiction feel.

Alexander Graham Bell Tetrahedrals

Here are a range of videos of some bizarre automated drawing machines, from an instrument that draws mushroom clouds from the dust from nuclear test sites, a large industrial robot used to automatically draw what it sees and a variety of increasingly odd contraptions.

bizarre drawing contraption videos

Bridge layers have to be about the closest thing in the real world to a Transformer, giant fold up, extendable instantly deployable bridges that are most often fixed to modified tanks. They have been around since tanks first existed, during WW1, and are one of the more bizarre and obscure forms of military hardware. There is also something incredibly circular about a vehicle that carries its own road.

12 mobile bridges

Bicycles are very efficient machines, more efficient than legs! Here are some of the more bizarre bicycle powered objects from a washing machine, to a bulldozer, a centrifuge at NASA and even a rollercoaster.

12 bizarre pedal powered things

One of Silicon Valleys most famous landmarks, and possibly its only truly monumental one is under threat of demolition. The giant airship Hangar One at NASAs Moffett Field, is one of Americas architectural treasures.Airship hangars were collectively the largest spaces ever built, larger than cathedrals and just as awe inspiring. Vote for your favorite.

12 giant airship hangars

Some of America’s best Mid Century Modern architecture is in the form of gas stations, with their simple space requirements and focus on innovative roofs.Several of the best known names in architecture have created gas stations, around the world, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies Van der Rohe, Willem Dudok, Jean Prouve, Arne Jacobsen and Norman Foster, but nobody created a design package that was as enduring and comprehensive as Elliot Noyes for Mobil.

Top 15 modernist gas stations

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WTF is that? #10

June 22nd, 2009 #link


What is it, and what’s the story?

7 Responses to “WTF is that? #10”

  1. tutash Says:

    Cargo Cult.

  2. Seth McQuale Says:

    It’s a Cargo Cult totem. GIS for “cargo cult” and that picture is in the listings.

  3. Ken Says:

    It is a tribal representation of a plane. The tribe thinks of it as a god and is trying to copy it….

  4. Jan Says:

    Cargo Cult totem.
    Tribal is trying to lure in some planes carrying food.

    During WWII primitive tribes in asia noticed that US troops coming in planes always had to eat, but did not do agriculture at all.

  5. admin Says:

    Yup its a Cargo Cult plane – People from primitive societies sometimes believed that the sophisticated manufactured goods (cargo) from visiting cultures must have been magical gifts from the gods. So they built replicas. More here:

  6. Jim Barzydlo Says:

    Wiki entries notwithstanding… Several years ago there was a documentary about the stone monoliths on Easter Island. I believe the natives saw the plane of the documentary crew and constructed this effigy of it. It looks awfully familiar, I’m pretty sure that is where this particular picture comes from.

  7. art glock Says:

    GM’s new prototype