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We tend to think of submarines as being a particularly 20th century object when we imagine the nuclear powered, nuclear missile carrying versions. Obviously however, they feature in the Jules Verne classic, ‘20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea' and are, as such a definitive Victorian piece of technology, or to use the term currently in vogue, 'steampunk'.Although the idea of a submarine began as early as the 16th century, it was in the Victorian era that the modern cigar with periscope form was developed with France's Gymnote in 1889.Included here is a picture of the model of the Plongeur which was exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in 1867. This was the actual item that Jules Verne saw and inspired the Nautilus in his seminal science fiction work, making it an historic item in the cultural history of technology.

victorian submarines

Imagine a gas powered desktop publishing system that weighed several tons, leaked oil, had thousands of moving parts, its own boiler full of molten lead and a keyboard where you couldn’t see what you had typed and which looked a thousand times more strange and complicated than any deliberately anachronistic Steampunk PC casemod.

This is how the machines that laid out the pages of newspapers were till the 80s, and to give some idea of how recent this technology was used, they were manufactured until after the release of the Apple computer. Linotype had a virtual monopoly on the typesetting of newspapers for a hundred years and their design is a superb example of an endlessly refined solution to what became an anachronistic problem. Linotypes were unlike any keyboard driven device, before or since.

linotypes from hell

Diving helmets are beautiful objects. Here are our favorites from modern versions with amazing visors for undersea welding, to incredible Steampunk style ones that look more other worldly than something from Jules Verne.

18 diving helmets

Everything from cars to cargo ships can be nuclear powered, not just aircraft carriers or submarines,. If you want a really wild motor for your vehicle here are some real examples of nuclear engines. To avoid more well known examples, we have not included carriers and submarines in this chart, and we have tried to link to images of the actual engines. Vote for your faves.

Nuclear Powered Transportation

In this kind of space, no one can hear you scream. Anechoic chambers use spiked walls to eliminate echoes, the end result might literally sound dull but the visual effect can be stunning, such as at the enormous anechoic hangar. Vote for your faves.

Anechoic Chamber Architecture

People sometimes make fun of the Swiss, since all they are famous for inventing is the Cuckoo Clock. Which is not really fair, because they didnt - the Germans did. Here are some post modern alternatives (both intentional and accidental) to the classic Black Forest Cuckoo Clock.

13 post modern cuckoo clocks

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WTF is that? #18

March 1st, 2010 link to (permalink)

wtf


This object has some relevance, considering recent news. What is it?



5 Responses to “WTF is that? #18”

  1. nathan Says:

    its the internal dampener in the taipei 101
    http://www.geekologie.com/2008/06/the_730_ton_ball_that_keeps_th.php
    ~ i recognised this too fast

  2. Bryan Says:

    Guessing seismometer

  3. Mark Says:

    It’s a seismic dampening weight for a high-rise building.

  4. George Says:

    It is a seismograph.

  5. Gaijiniji Says:

    I believe this is a pendulum used in the top of a skyscraper to counteract the buildings sway from high winds and earthquakes. Im guessing the building is Taipei 101?

  6. admin Says:

    @mark @gaijiniji yes indeed its the massive earthquake damper in the Taipei 101, which weighs more than 700 tons.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuned_mass_damper

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