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As I write this, I am surrounded by custom designed furniture and lighting, and the only thing that ruins the overall effect are the ugly power strips. A ubiquitous gadget which is often very cheap and badly designed. Here are a collection of well designed power strip ideas from sliding, plugin-anywhere systems, that have been available for high end office design for decades but haven’t been available in consumer markets, to a $3500 audiophile power strip based upon quantum Resonance technology.

10 best power strip designs

Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovich donated money for a giant tunneling machine to build a tunnel between Russia and Sarah Palin’s house, when he was governor of the adjacent region to Alaska. The Wikipedia entry for Tunneling Machines and the entry for Civil Engineers in the UK Yellow Pages have something in common, they both read: ‘see boring’. Doubly ironic, since boring is one of the most interesting projects for civil engineers, and the machines used to do the job are spectacular. The set here includes a variety of shield tunnel boring machines, TBMs, including those for celebrated projects such as Yucca mountain or the Channel Tunnel. Perhaps the most ironic of all is the Air Force TBM, a machine for digging deep underground, owned by the people who defend the skies.

20 interesting boring machines

Although the term galvanometer is often used to refer to things other than devices which measure electrical current (such as charge or resistance), there are an amazing array of early designs for this instrument, considering their simplicity.Many of these design differences are to do with the cases that surround what is basically a twisting wire, however there is something definitively analog in their mechanism and 19th century amateur scientist in their variety. Early galvanometers represent the extreme opposite of todays high energy physics, which requires giant multi billion dollar apparatuses and extreme digital processing for measurement. A long way off a compass and a battery.

different types of galvanometer

Solar cookers are reflectors which focus sunlight enough to heat food, but they are a simple eco-friendly gadget that happens to look interesting and comes in a large variety of interesting forms.Because solar cookers are shiny and look like satellite dishes, they have a particularly futuristic appearance which often creates an extreme contrast with the surroundings where they are used, as some of these testify.

15 Solar Cookers

Babel is interesting because it represents the ultimate in imaginary architecture, a skyscraper of the mind. The Tower of Babel is the archetypal image of a giant tower, a man made hill, yet nothing like our idea of it has ever been built. The closest are possibly Mont Saint-Michel or perhaps the downtown Manhattan cluster, yet one is a natural mound and the other an apparent hill created from many buildings.The idea of Babel traces back to ancient Sumerian stories from the time of 5000 year old Mesopotamian Ziggurats, to the reinterpretation of these myths in the book of Genesis. In the 16th century the ironic obsession with Babel among 16th century painters in hill-less Lowland Europe, created the most well known imagery, but it evolved further with the unbuilt Palace of the Soviets or the imaginary babel in the retro futuristic skyscraper cities of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

towers of babel

Being tall and thin means that one of the common but nevertheless unusual uses of old silos is to house climbing walls. Old silo structures, from underground missile silos to towering grain stores are often interesting pieces of industrial archaeology and make unconventional architectural conversions.

buildings in converted silos

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WTF is that? #6

May 8th, 2009 #link

wtf is that

Any guidance as to what this is? Answers in the comments

9 Responses to “WTF is that? #6”

  1. jason Says:

    its a nuclear weapon core

  2. nick Says:

    A robotic game of boules?

  3. Michiel Says:

    Looks a bit like a “diamond machine”, which they use to create artificial diamonds.

  4. Jeff Says:

    I think I recognize it as the core of the inertial guidance system of an ICBM. Thus the pun “guidance”…

  5. admin Says:

    @Jeff Correct! It is indeed the guidance system from a missile. There is a terrible beauty to it.

    It’s part of a very sinister photo series by Martin Miller of WMDs:

    Via the excellent, Darkroasted Blend:

  6. Brian Says:

    obviously, it’s a pokeball

  7. Glen Says:

    it is indeed a gyroscope but not out of an aircraft or missile. It is more than likely from a inertial navigation system from a sub or ship. In a sub there are usually 4 of these 2 in the front 2 in the back and gravity anomaly meters, and accelerometers near them. Any way they with these they can stay under water and know where they are with fairly good resolution. They do drift but even after a few weeks under water they still are with in a foot or so of where they really are. I saw the picture that is titled that it is from a MX Peacekeeper but the MX used Honeywell Ring Laser Gyros this is much older.

  8. Calvin Says:

    It sure looks like GLadDOS to me :-)
    If you don’t get this Portal joke, you can see it at

  9. Rex Says:

    That is a ring-laser gyro. The heart of an inertial navigation system used for ICBM’s