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Perhaps it’s because we sometimes take the things we see around us for granted and a technical drawing of its design shows the effort that went into it that I find these Nasa drawings so interesting. That in addition to the labels saying what things do. With that in mind, i included an diagram which isn’t really a blueprint, from a Apollo 15 press kit showing how they unpacked the lunar rover – for some reason I always wondered how they did that. I also cheated with a couple of NASA project images that aren’t from NASA to show how other companies were involved – such as Lockheed’s Hubble Telescope and Boeing’s drawings of the Saturn V configuration.

12 Nasa Blueprints

The Zapruder film of the JFK assassination was shot on a Bell and Howell double 8 camera, at about the time of the introduction of Super 8, which created a ubiquitous format for affordable home movies. The difference in design between the Super 8 cameras and other 8mm cameras from as early as the 30s is clearly visible in this collection. The look changed from rounded shapes dictated by the film canister on early news reel devices, to a counter fashion for extremely orthogonal forms as exemplified here by the Star Trek like designs of the superb Bolex 150 from 1967.

20 classic 8mm movie cameras

These days most cutaways are computer rendered. Here are some physical cutaways that fascinate us as much as when travel stores had elaborate cutaway models of passenger jets.The most amazing is a model of Chernobyl reactor core 4, accurately depicting its ruined state after the disaster.

13 physical cutaway models

Just like the Empire State building the Burj Dubai is opening after a crash, only it is twice the height. Here are our picks for a visual record of the construction of the world’s tallest structure, from its 200 foot deep foundation to a video from the crows nest at the top of it’s spire.

construction of the burj dubai

These days, with chip based cellular devices and cameras, thing like spy radios and cameras are often toys, since the miniaturization of what used to be the realm of clandestine devices can now be made for a few bucks. As a result, modern spy radios are not that interesting, however these vintage versions from WWII right up to the Gulf War are.

a dozen vintage spy radios

There is something inherently fascinating about survival kits. Here are some of our favorites, including those below ejector seats, some nicely designed kits from Japan and at Target, and those that we thought had interesting components. We will add to this list over time, send us suggestions of genuinely interesting or unusual, non-gimmick kits.

Survival Kits

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WTF is That? #5

May 1st, 2009 #link

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.