Science Frontiers - Deforesting the wilderness of science.

New-style typewriters has four-foot-long carriage, allows typing of very long sentences. Still no solution for typing letters beneath a previously-typed line of letters.

Curious motorbike wheel made of independently spinning balls solves age-old problem of cornering without crashing, dying. Gives new meaning to the old expression "Hey, you've made a motorbike wheel out of balls. You're going to die."

Rotating horse sling simplifies the task of painting and undercoating horses. Also efficiently terrifies other large animals.


RCA - Computers! We have some!

Hey, you know how everything is better when it's designed on a computer? Well, that was once called "Computer Aided Design", or "CAD". Now, it's just called "designing something". See, now that everything except going to the bathroom is digital*, it doesn't really add anything to throw "computer" in front of it. This ad comes from 1970, which was a time before they had a name for designing something with a computer.

So, since they didn't have the acronym "CAD" to throw around and impress people, they wrote four paragraphs of copy to explain that computers are useful, because how would people know otherwise? They stop short of saying that there was any kind of computers actually inside their products, of course, because there weren't. Computers back then were still giant things that took up your whole darn computer lab. So where did they have their Nerf wars? That's what I want to know.

Wow. nice COM-PEW-TOR you've got there, RCA. I see you spent the extra cash for the blinkey lights panels. Good choice. Those definitely let people know they're looking at a computer and not just a prop. Assuming there ever was a computer manufactured that had a big panel of unlabeled multicolored light bulbs mounted above the tape drive, what did the bulbs represent? Maybe the machine ran on a thirty-two-Tinkerbell system? Another good choice there, because those had way better error correction than the old sixteen-Tinkerbell units.

People in 1970 did know one thing about computers: every computer used the font Amelia. See the goofy text that says "computer crafted color"? That's Ameila, and no computer in reality has ever displayed text in that font, unless somebody was being cheeky.

Now, though, I think we've finally let go of that inaccurate Amelia font myth. Now, we only use Ameila to be ironic, or, you know, cheeky about computers. Come to think of it, you know what other computer trope needs to die a fiery death? The fact that, in every movie, computers STILL make "bleepity bleep" noises when displaying text or calculating something. Nobody's computer has ever done that, and if it did, the owner would immediately march straight off to the CONTROL PANEL>SOUND menu to turn that shit right off. And yet, here in The Future, movie computers go bleepity bleep. Thanks, movie industry, for always talking down to your audience, eighty percent of which is probably smarter than you are.

*Unless you consider the fact that "digital" also can mean "of, involving, or relating to, the fingers", in which case going to the bathroom usually is a digital procedure.

Click for big.


"Television" images on film allow viewing anywhere.

Today we bring you breathtaking news from 1931, when Man discovered the secret of transferring video images to film, so that the man in the street can visit a theatre to see what the new experimental technology of "television" looks like!

Travel to your local cinema with all speed, citizens, for your chance to witness Television images of "Man's Head". Please refrain from burning down the cinema theater. There are no demons at work.


Road America, The Hawk 2014 - Part 6. Tracking shots.

Here is the last batch of photos from the vintage races at Road America last weekend. These are all the tracking shots. That's where you try to follow the subject while zoomed in, keeping the subject in perfect focus (yeah, right) and use a slower shutter speed, so that the background is blurred. When they work, they're great. When you're me, that's about ten percent of the time.

Some of these pictures are kilnkers, but the they may be the only picture I took of a particular car, so they went in anyway.

Back to our normal content tomorrow, with jokes or something.

It's tricky following a car moving at one hundred miles per hour is pretty hard. As you can see, I didn't quite have this 911 on target. But it's the only picture of this car I have, and I like the colors so...


Road America, The Hawk 2014 - Part 5

More race cars today, in part five of our hard-hitting undercover expose' of the vintage races at Road America last weekend. In this batch, we breached the security perimeter on some kind of huge shed or warehouse, where presumably the paddock bays are more expensive. We were going to blow the lid off the old race car underground and no wide open garage door was going to stop us! See what we discovered!

This is a not-very-vintage Nissan GTR, which is a high-tech wondercar that can make anybody a driving god. Strangely, Hawk (the sponsor of the weekend's event) chose to basically gut the whole thing when they made it into their show pony. It was converted from all wheel drive to rear wheel drive and all the electronics were pulled out and replaced with a custom ECU. Okay fine, guys, but don't come crying to me when it doesn't drive like a GTR any more.
After sunset, Bachman-Turner Overdrive would be playing for the crowds, using the front splitter as a stage.

After exposing the seemy underbelly of the shed paddocks, we headed back to the main gate, grabbing a few more pictures of anything interesting on the way out.

You usually don't find a Mark I GT40 just parked somewhere. This is one of the few street-spec GT40s. That evening, there would be a Concours d'Elegance in Elkhart Lake. Presumably, this car would be on display there. I wonder how many current car designs will age this well.

This is what they call a "rat rod". Rust is always the finish of choice.

We still have a bunch of track photos to post. Stay tuned for my further attempts to do tracking shots of moving cars.