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Until very recently, people still used the same principal that Newton had proposed, to derive latitude from the angle of the sun or stars at known times. The sextant (or originally octant) allowed people to do this relative to the horizon, rather than the instrument itself.Later versions of the sextant included a very simple version for emergency use, called the Bris sextant (not a great name for a device to be used on a rolling ship) and until the advent of GPS systems, bubble sextants were used on aircraft.

16 sextants

Most of these are either clearly dangerous, such as the shoe fitting x ray machines that were popular until the 50s or show a bizarre Alien-like (as in H.R. Geiger) aesthetic that is a world apart from current medical equipment. Bug-like metal castings in place of ubiquitous white plastic.

9 vintage x ray machines

The design of ski jumps is interesting because it is the most extreme form of a playground slide. It has recently produced excellent pieces of modern architecture from Zaha Hadid and MR2 but equally impressive are the bizarre temporary ski jumps at baseball grounds and football stadia.

10 ski jumps

Lookout towers are often more dramatic pieces of architecture than tall buildings because they only have a single floor – the top one. This means that they can be very skeletal and the design is all about a dramatic staircase. Here are some of our favorite examples,accidental architectural gems, like mini Eiffel Towers used for watching everything from forest fires to smugglers.

lookout towers

Electric tattoo machines are based on a modified version of an engraving device invented by Edison, which had a 2 coil vibrating mechanism similar to an old fashioned electric doorbell. Samuel O’Reilly added a needle and ink reservoir to this to create a dedicated tattoo device in the 1890s.The particularly fascinating thing about these items is how their design has evolved towards the Victorian retro technology aesthetic that has now become fashionable elsewhere, however the beautiful machines designed by designers like Bernhard outclass many of the products design labeled Steampunk.The Bernhard machines are so magnificent, they warrant a list all of their own.

tattoo machines of the consequences of the Wii and the iPhone is that the market for useful haptic (or force feedback devices) has become real. In some ways, an ordinary cellphone on vibrate, or a rumble pack are examples of haptic devices, however, the recent focus on the physics of interfaces means that haptics are soon going to be much more sophisticated. The reason for this list is actually to show how limited the scope of haptics is currently, despite the opportunity with systems that resemble the primitive virtual reality fad that coincided with the birth of the web. With a bit of imagination, however, some of the possible applications of haptics are shown.

12 haptic interfaces

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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