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The fact that if a nuke is used to extinguish the Deepwater Horizon leak, it will be the 6th time this has been done speaks volumes of how extreme the technological requirements of our fossil fuel dependence.Oil and gas require a gargantuan infrastructure of superlative technology that permeates every level from extraction to dispatch, from hellish looking oil drill bits, drilling rigs that are the size of cities, storage tanks the size of cathedrals and pipelines that rival the Great Wall of China.The extreme environments that this technology operates in require unsinkable boats, skyscraper sized structures in some of the world’s least inhabited places and firefighting tools that include large bombs and fighter jet engines.Pause for a moment and reflect on just how unusual these objects are.

the extreme hardware of oil and gas

For the last decade, Apple have absolutely dominated gadget design, bringing modernism to the masses in a way that architects never did. Yves Behar, the Swiss born (but not Swiss) designer is the first person to really challenge Apple's hegemony, he designed the original Slingbox and Paypal's recent attempt to compete with Square, but is becoming well known because of the superior design of the Jawbone headset and Jambox wireless speaker. Here are our favorite Behar designs.

12 Yves Behar Designs

Old shoes doesn't sound interesting but I managed to find some fine examples, from the incredibly short and tall Venetian Chopines which had 2 foot soles for courtesans to wade through sewage lined streets to the opposite shaped long skinny medieval Poulaines which had toes stuffed with moss. Interestingly the worlds oldest shoes come from the New World, or Oregon to be exact.My personal favorite are the Roman shoes from the time of Constantine, whose style show just show eastern or to our eyes, Arabic, the Empire would have felt at that time.

old shoes

Nothing dates like the future and nothing is more symbolic of gadgety futurism than a modern kitchen. Included here is a design lab from a trendy Michelin starred restaurant that makes endless courses of microscopic over-engineered food, a trend which we feel is now obsolete.

12 Retro kitchens of the future

In order to create musical mashups, its good to have some mashup instruments.We love the names of some of these, like the the chairello, however our favorites are the amazing musical instruments made by Iner Souster, out of chicken cookers, golf carts, refrigerators, and a violin that is made out of a violin case.

12 musical instrument mashups

There is a strange beauty to slow motion videos of car crash test dummies and airbag deployment, but these don't compare to the similar, but far more extreme safety measure of a fighter jet ejection. Here are videos of various aspects of their deployment testing and training. Some of these are absolutely mesmerizing.

10 videos of ejection seat tests

Guiness' law states that there is almost always more than one person who claims to have created the biggest, smallest fastest etc.Some of these items are disputable, but they are all cool. Our fave is the tiny combustion engine made at Berkeley.

10 tiniest gadgets

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WTF is That? #5

May 1st, 2009 link to (permalink)

wtf is that


What is this unfamiliar object? As always there is a clue in the question. Answers in the comments



12 Responses to “WTF is That? #5”

  1. spliffer Says:

    It’s a model of an abattoir after a swine flu cull.

  2. jeremy Says:

    Its the under frame for an Elizabethan dress.

  3. Rich Says:

    its an upside down model used to design some famous church or cathedral

  4. admin Says:

    @Rich – yes.

    Does anyone know which one? The shapes formed are catenary arches which when inverted would create a very efficient structures following optimum stress lines.

    Despite the simplicity of the method, this is a rather sophisticated structural approach – far more so than gothic cathedrals which are often surprisingly structurally inelegant.

  5. rob Says:

    It’s Gaudi model for the structure of the La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Strings with weights – when inverted – becomes the model for the structure.

  6. admin Says:

    @Rob Spot on. The ‘unfamiliar’ item is indeed an inverted model of Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece in Barcelona.

  7. scott Says:

    not to split hairs, but i believe that’s gaudi’s catenary arch model for the unfinished cathedral at colonia guell outside of barcelona. the appearances of the two churches’ designs are similar in some respects, and gaudi DID use this method of representation for both, but the sagrada familia has more pronounced, elongated towers (whereas the ones on the church at colonia guell were to have a more conical appearance)

  8. admin Says:

    @Scott. Looks like you’re right. The model is in the basement of Sagrada Familia but is of the Colonia Guell .

    http://www.gaudidesigner.com/uk/colonia-guell-old-photograph-of-the-model-for-the-guell-colonias-study-realised-by-edouard-goetz_366.html

  9. Val Hallan Says:

    It looks like the ballast bag array for a Japanese WWII transcontinental balloon bomb. I saw one at the US Air Force Museum many years ago.

  10. kreatiiv Says:

    unfinished for now…. to watch them work inside the cathedral using the traditional stone cutting techniques is absolutely amazing…. maybe one day they will actually finish it :)

  11. Gina Says:

    It’s a model used by Gaudi to create the towers and archs of the Church of La Colonia Guell of Barcelona (in Catalonia).
    Is based on the museum of La Sagrada Familia where it explain how Gaudi created his buildings :)

  12. robert Says:

    it appears to be part of a “fly gallery”, the system of ropes and counterweights to suspend various theatrical scene elements backstage, hmmm.

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