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Nothing seemed as modern as the space race, gleaming white rockets and cutting edge technology. Except that that was decades ago, and some of the most spectacularly important pieces of technology have been left to rot. Soviet shuttle prototypes have been spotted in the most unlikely places, from the wind swept deserts of Bahrain to a river side dock, full of scrap metal, in a Moscow suburb.The NASA LUT-1 launch tower that sent the first men to the moon was described as ‘the modern day equivalent of the dock from which the Santa Maria sailed for the New World’. It lay in a rusting pile of collapsed metal until it was broken up for scrap four years ago.

abandoned space technology

Bank vaults comprise the most impressive fortresses ever built. Their giant mechanical doors are supreme gadgets, as large as a truck but built with the precision of a Swiss watch.Working vaults range from the New York Federal Reserve with 5000 tons of gold beneath Starbucks on the corner of Nassau St. to the giant doomsday project seed bank vault in the Arctic. Reconverted vaults are used for an amazing array of items such as underground farms, dry cleaned garment stores, wine cellars, radioactive material storage and restaurants. There are even bank vaults which have survived nuclear explosions in both Nevada and Hiroshima. Here is a collection of some of the most celebrated or unusual vaults in the world

bank vaults

The original wireless network used pigeons. One of the worlds largest information firms, Reuters actually started out as a messaging service with carrier pigeons, they were used widely for messaging during the WW1 and even for aerial photography. The famous psychologist, Skinner worked on a guided missile which was to be controlled by live pigeons.

the pigeon net

The design history of snowmobiles starts with propeller driven sleds, including the amazing Russian combat version and migrates to half track vehicles with rear engines. Today’s front engine vehicles were pioneered by Polaris, and are represented here by the Arctic Cat F6 600, which is driven by Sarah Palin’s husband. This list of personal snowmobiles also contains two state of the art concept single track motorcycle style vehicles by Keller and Schlootz.

snowmobiles through history

Tensegrity structures are visually stunning and their combination with computer enhanced structures is creating renewed interest for architectural applications.Buckminster Fuller coined the term tensegrity when he saw sculptures by Kenneth Snelson and realized that rigid component geodesics were a special case of perfectly balanced compression and tension. Tensegrity refers to structures where compression members (rods) are only connected to each other by tension members (cables). The end result is that the structures appear to float in air.Despite the fact that tensegrity structures are fantastically efficient, few have been built since they tend to have a single point of failure and need adjustment. Recently however, schemes which combine the intelligence of computing and tensegrity structures have lead to proposals of very large scale structures including sky scrapers.Here are our favorite tensegrity links from around the web. Vote for yours

13 wonderful tensegrity structures

Continuous mining machines and Roadheaders are giant automated modern day mining machines that slice through rock at high speed and look like something from hell. Here are some of our favorite examples of these magnificent machines. Vote for your faves.

Terrifying Mining Gear

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WTF is that? #17

February 23rd, 2010 #link


These are false teeth not unique, but of a type with a sad and macabre history. What’s the story?

9 Responses to “WTF is that? #17”

  1. Indiefab Says:

    These appear to made from another person’s jaw (mandible) and maxilla with teeth intact. Instead of taking animal bone, teeth, metal and other materials and making a jaw and maxilla, these were made by harvesting straight from a person. You would be wearing some else’s mouth!
    I’m not sure of the history beyond that.

  2. admin Says:

    Yes you are right, they are real human teeth. There is a story behind them, not this set in particular, but the type.

  3. steve Says:

    They are a famous murderer’s teeth.

  4. admin Says:

    @steve They are not from a particularly well known individual, and there were many sets of this kind.

  5. Glen Says:

    I’m guessing something to do with slavery or the Holocaust? Something greusome and unpleasant?

  6. Indiefab Says:

    The only websource that I can find using this same image is about “Waterloo Teeth”. These were teeth harvested from the corpses of soldiers after so many European battles. Waterloo alone had 50,000 deaths. Scavengers would scour the battlefields and pick belongings off the bodies. Real human teeth were extremely valuable in the early 1700′s and thousands of barrels of human teeth were extracted from the dead and shipped to England to be used in dentures. They were typically afixed to a base of animal ivory or bone.
    However, I find no reference that says the upper plate and lower jaw were ever removed as a whole, like this shows. I can’t wait for the answer.

  7. admin Says:

    @Indiefab. You are absolutely right they are an example of Waterloo teeth, whether the jaw here is also real, I’m not sure.

    Waterloo teeth became the generic term for teeth made from dead soldiers, a practice that continued through the American Civil War, when Waterloo teeth from its battles were found in mail order catalogs in the 1860s.

    They reveal a time before World War I when fallen lower ranking soldiers were anonymous, people whose names didn’t appear on memorials and whose bones were dug up by companies contracted to grind them into fertilizer.

  8. bradley547 Says:

    The jaw itself is not human. Most likely bone or ivory. If you look close, the rear molars are carved into the material.
    Besides, a real human jawbone wouldn’t have enough material in it to carve a seat for the users jaw to go into.

  9. Indiefab Says:

    Good point Bradley. That’s exactly what my wife said about the molars when I showed her. These must have been the finest false teeth made at the time. Compared to George Washington’s teeth, these are far more advanced. Cool.