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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

Flying helmets are interesting because they demonstrate the rate of technological progress over the 20th century, from primitive, almost medieval looking leather caps to sophisticated cyborg like devices packed full of electronics. They also show different air force cultures, from spartan Soviet styles to individualistic, decorated and painted US fighter pilot helmets.

flying helmets

Ever since the strapline ‘Nicholas Parsons is the neo-opiate of the People’ graced a concrete roundabout in Harrow in the 1970s, I’ve been a fan of sardonic or facetious textual graffiti. Sadly, my all-time favorite, the simultaneously mindless and profound spaying of the word ‘wanker’ above a bronze statue of Freud in London’s Swiss cottage, couldn’t be found, however here are 15 choice favorites from the many collections of these around the web.

15 witty pieces of text graffiti

The ability to print incredibly complex custom objects on demand through the use of computer-aided rapid prototyping techniques will transform product design.Here are some of the most amazing current examples of digital fabrication through techniques such as stereolithography, selective laser sintering, 3D printing and fused deposition modeling. Vote for your favorite.

20 3d printed products

Early brick sized cellphones spanned the end of the 80s and beginning of the 90s when Nokia was still remembered as the manufacturer of jackboots for the Soviet army. The distinction between carphones and portable cellular phones was blurred and even today the largest cellphone outlet in the UK is called the Carphone Warehouse.Here is a nostalgic lineup of videos of some of these with 2 notable inclusions, the Nokia 9000, which you could use to access a server from more effectively than an iPhone or Blackberry, in the early days of the web and the Iridium, whose demise is one of the few examples of technology regress: there is no longer a truly global cellphone network, but there used to be.

brick sized cellphone ads (videos)

Nothing limits the design of interfaces like the QUERTY keyboard, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t try.Our personal favorite here is the Ergodex panel which can be configured to mimic the cockpit controls of many aircraft, including an F16.

21 futuristic interfaces

Terry Gilliam was perhaps first to notice the architectural qualities of power station cooling towers, setting the torture scene from Brazil inside the base of one in South London. Their sheer size, monolithic masonry walls and gentle curves make them like enormous castle towers. Particularly special are the ones that have open structures at the base, making them appear to float impossibly, and the view from the inside is what we have focused on in this list. Accidental architectural masterpieces indeed.

accidental masterpieces cooling towers

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wtf is that? #16

October 22nd, 2009 #link


There is a whole history behind these things – what’s it all about?

16 Responses to “wtf is that? #16”

  1. admin Says:

    BTW, this is difficult. If nobody gets close, I’ll post a clue later.

  2. Bradley Says:

    I’m going to guess it’s some kind of signal generator like a Wein Bridge Oscillator. I’d have a better guess if I could read the dials, but then that would be too easy.

  3. thomas Says:

    it’s some kind of radiation detector. Or maybe it measures it?

  4. Todd Says:

    It’s a Dr. Pepper can. Geez, that one was easy.

  5. admin Says:

    OK, the clue is that this machine could in theory work as well if it were made of paper.

  6. olaf Says:

    Ok, I think this device is some kind of medical-placebo. Connected to the machine it is easy for me to imagine a “energy” floating through my body if the doctor plays very serious with the buttons.

  7. tony d Says:

    Is this an early Scientology E-meter?

  8. admin Says:

    @tonyd – that’s getting warm, although these devices could look be anything, not just an E-meter. This is just one example.

  9. supermarketsong Says:

    A vintage fake ikea decoration item? :p

  10. supermarketsong Says:

    A vintage ikea fake decoration item? :p

  11. ยต_d Says:

    looks like a real life reproduction of an item from the game bioshock…

  12. Albedo Says:

    Quack medicine… A violet ray machine minus its wands?

  13. Albedo Says:

    OK, maybe not a violet ray machine.. An ECT machine? A control panel from a Ring-King Junior?

  14. biziclop Says:

    Is it a movie prop?

  15. xoxoxoBruce Says:

    That’s the meter L Ron Hubbard used to prove plants feel pain.

  16. admin Says:

    OK – like I say this one is extremely tricky.

    Its one of the few images around of a Hieronymous machine, a hypothetical device which works by ‘analogy’. In other words, the idea is that you build something that looks like a working machine and it can behave like the real thing through the power of the mind. It s a sort of sci-fi equivalent of cargo cult objects.

    The reason this WTF is so tricky is that because this is insane and because the devices don’t have to work in the conventional sense, they can look like anything. A Hieronymous machine could look like the device above, which is a genuine attempt, or a paper cutout.

    Nonetheless, its a fun and weird concept.

  17. biziclop Says:

    It’s not just insane, it’s patented!