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oobject: 'daily user-ranked gadget lists'
Neutrinos are extremely small and fast, so much so that to detect them you have to build really amazing experiments, such as the ones shown here. Japans Super-K is a 50,000 ton tank of water, half a mile underground, so clear that divers get vertigo. The latest South Pole neutrino telescopes, which point into the earths core rather than at the sky, have arrays of detectors which are much larger than the Empire State building and are frozen deep in the Antarctic ice core.

Ghost Particle Detectors

Many of today’s most notable collections, such as the British Museum started off as wunderkammer, or cabinets of curiosities. These started in the 16th century are were somewhere between Ripley’s Believe it or Not and the Smithsonian, eclectic collections of man-made and natural objects of wonder. These were either rooms or spectacular intricate cabinets.Today there are deliberate attempts to re-create the very particular feel of these collections, such as at the museum of Jurassic Technology in L.A, which combines the real and fake or the British Museum’s Enlightenment Gallery.

the wunderkammer through history

There has probably been nothing like the sight of dazzle ships, before or since. So impressive were they that their patterns were used into WWII, after their efficacy was questionable, because they were thought to boost morale. Dazzle patterns were designed by modernist painters, in the modernist style, bringing about a very strange meeting of bohemian painters and military types.With no all weather camouflage for ships in WWI, these extraordinary designs were painted on ships to confuse rather than obscure. The sliced geometry meant that it was difficult to align split screen range finders, and fake bows made it difficult to gauge speed and heading.We are breaking our usual rule of showing actual objects rather than paintings or models, for two reasons: dazzle ships were very brightly colored, yet there are no color images of their WWI versions; many of the dazzle designs were by modern artists, and the famous painting of a dazzle ship was by one of the people who designed the camouflage itself, Edward Wadsworth.

dazzle ships

Here are some of the best finds from the last month, that didn’t fit into any particular category but were special, nonetheless. From the workshop where the Statue of Liberty was being made, to a Chinese factory with people working inside a steam press, a mockup plane for taxiing practice and an impossibly thin air tensegrity structure bridge, vote for your faves.

best of oobject jan 09

Dueling pistols are strange, beautiful and ironic. Gadgets to shoot each other in the face with, crafted with the delicacy and decorative extravagance of expensive jewelry.They appeared in the 18th C, as faster firing versions of flintlock guns replaced swords. Their use dwindled in the 19th C, while duels were still fought in the Western US states where the less rich would engage in gouging, similarly prearranged combat, with the aim of plucking out the opponent’s eyes.Dueling pistols were designed for the upper classes, for the preservation of honor, used illegally by generals and poets (Pushkin was killed in a duel), several US presidents (even Lincoln accepted a challenge to a duel)and even presented, with no sense of irony, as diplomatic gifts.

12 pairs of dueling pistols

When gold prospectors first ventured to California, the equivalent of a hot tub meant farting in a zinc trough full of tepid water. Today it means an object reminiscent of CERN’s LHC particle detectors, with several hundred jets, built in 40 inch plasma TVs and seating for ten.We put this list together largely because there is something fascinating and supremely gadgety about the variety of arrangements of body shaped molds and strategic placement of jets, that when laid out side by side, in a gallery, seems particularly impressive. This type of space ship like hot tub design seems like something unusual enough to define a time and place, like fins on 50s cars or undulating water beds from the 70s.

spaceship like hot tubs

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? #7

May 15th, 2009 #link

mystery object

What is this, what does it do? Can I have one for my birthday?

Answers in the comments



11 Responses to “WTF is That? #7”

  1. jeremy Says:

    Looks like some kind of giant solenoid.

  2. louis Says:

    Nuclear Fission Reaction?

  3. louis Says:

    No its nuclear fussion!

  4. louis Says:

    heres more info

    largest superconducting stellarator in the world
    This Japanese fusion research device consists of intertwined coils of superconducting material, and is designed to contain a 100-million-degree nuclear fusion plasma. The research aims to solve the many engineering challenges that must be overcome in order for fusion reactors to produce more energy than they consume.

  5. james Says:

    pretty cool guy louis

  6. admin Says:

    @louis

    Yes! Its the ‘Large Helical Device’.

    What I find interesting is that it demonstrates that the extreme engineering requirements of high energy physics can produce objects which are more beautiful than most product design, and without any deliberate aesthetic intent.

    More here: http://www.lhd.nifs.ac.jp/en/

  7. John Says:

    @admin

    It’s a purely functional expression of mathematics based upon the natural world. Two things we already know to be beautiful in their superficial simplicity and fascinating in their deep complexities.

    When everything is in its place for a reason and based around nature you inevitably end up with something inspiring, i think.

  8. robert Says:

    Oddly reminiscent of a nightmare I once had, except it was all in constant motion!!!

  9. robert Says:

    Actually, the Japanese Large Helical Device…

  10. Dave Says:

    Looks like an air conditioning system designed by H. R. Geiger…

  11. Sullivan Says:

    That is beautiful!