Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The World's Longest Running Laboratory Experiment...

has been taking place at the School of Mathematics and Physics at The University of Queensland since 1927.

In that year, the first Professor of Physics at UQ filled a funnel full with pitch, then 3 years later in 1930 (after it had settled), started it dripping to show that pitch, though it appears to be a solid at room temperature, is actually a very viscous, very slow flowing liquid.

Since the flow was started in 1930, only 8 drops have dripped.  The 9th is currently hanging, with 3 webcams trained on it, so the whole world can check on it's progress.

The full story, along with a link to the live webcam can be found on the University of Queenland's website here:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

And from the barn comes...

Only the baddest car ever made.  The 1968 Dodge Charger.  You'd think if someone were going to post a picture of it on the web they would have at least washed the dust off first.  Nope.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Support for "the love of money is the root of all evil"

In honor of Sunday I'm posting something of spiritual significance.  (I know today is Monday, but I meant to get this posted yesterday).

1 Tim. 6:9-10
But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.
10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

The below link is to an article titled, "Just Thinking About Money Can Corrupt You."  

It supports the scriptures above by detailing a study that indicates thinking about money can make you "more likely to demonstrate unethical intentions, decisions, and behavior".

Friday, February 21, 2014

World's Tiniest Flame Eater Engine

This is the smallest flame eater (flame licker) engine I've ever seen.

For those unfamiliar with flame eater engines, they run off of an external flame, usually a candle or an alcohol lamp.  They're an external combustion engine.  They're also a two stroke engine.  Sometimes they're called an atmospheric engine or a vacuum engine.

Basically you have a flame placed at the inlet valve of the engine.  You give the engine a spin to get it started.  It opens the valve.  The piston moves back, pulling hot gases from the flame into the cylinder.  When the piston is at the bottom of it's stroke, the valve closes and the hot gases are cooled very quickly by the cold cylinder.  The cooling gases contract very rapidly, forming a vacuum in the cylinder which pulls the piston back up to the top of the cylinder, then the valve opens and the inertia of the flywheel carries the piston through top-dead-center and back toward the bottom of it's stroke as it inhales more hot gases from the flame and the cycle repeats.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

10,000 year mechanical clock

Wow.  This thing is cool and crazy all at the same time.

Paid for by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.

"There is a Clock ringing deep inside a mountain. It is a huge Clock, hundreds of feet tall, designed to tick for 10,000 years. Every once in a while the bells of this buried Clock play a melody. Each time the chimes ring, it’s a melody the Clock has never played before. The Clock’s chimes have been programmed to not repeat themselves for 10,000 years. Most times the Clock rings when a visitor has wound it, but the Clock hoards energy from a different source and occasionally it will ring itself when no one is around to hear it. It’s anyone’s guess how many beautiful songs will never be heard over the Clock’s 10 millennial lifespan.

The Clock is real. It is now being built inside a mountain in western Texas...."

Full details can be found here:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Popular Science archives available on Google Books

I just discovered that Popular Science has partnered with Google Books to provide access to all the old issues of Popular Science and made them available for FREE right here:

You can search for specific phrases like "Tesla" or "high voltage", but I find it's actually much more interesting to just pick an old issue and scroll through it page by page.  The pictures are fascinating and some of the classic language is awesome.  Case in point, "The rowboat bath is the newest contribution to the physical enjoyment of living" (Popular Science Monthly, April 1916, Vol. 88, No. 4, pg. 486)

The Wallet Photo Paradox

There's a paradox around wallet photos.  I personally never use them due to this paradox.

a) A photo has to be very important for you to actually want to carry it with you in your wallet.

b) You never want to put an important photo in your wallet because it's going to get bent, wrinkled, chafed, damaged, and sweat-soaked.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Barn Trolley Light Fixtures

A couple of years ago, my wife showed me some industrial light fixtures in Restoration Hardware.  They were reproductions of barn trolleys with the light cords threaded through the pulleys where ropes would normally go.  They were very cool, but, as with everything in Restoration Hardware, very expensive, so we made our own using real barn pulleys.

I go to various tractor shows and flea markets throughout the year, so all I had to do was keep my eyes open for a barn trolley.  I wound up buying 2 at a farm show and using them as the centerpieces of 2 light fixtures.  They were pretty grungy, so I power-washed all the crud off of them, then we painted them with a textured spray paint we found at Lowe's to give them a pleasant appearance.  "Hammered Bronze" was the paint we used.  I searched for cloth covered power cord on the web and bought some online to use for powering the lights and suspending the light fixtures below the trolleys (the fixtures came from either Lowe's or Home Depot and came with Edison bulbs).

I wanted to mount the trolleys on the actual track hardware normally used with them during their life in a barn, but the track hardware is harder to find than the trolleys, so I made my own.  I measured the track pulleys on the trolleys then bought the appropriate size angle iron at a local metal yard.  I welded large steel nuts between the pieces of angle to get the proper spacing for each trolley (the 2 trolleys needed slightly different width track), then cut re-bar to length to hang the track from the beams in our library.  I welded a washer to the top end of each re-bar in order to bolt the whole assembly to the beams.  Then we painted the whole track assembly with the same "Hammered Bronze" paint we had used on the trolleys.

The trolleys turned out fantastic.  Below are some pictures.  I wish they were a little better quality, but I just took them with my phone, not an actual camera.

This is the trolly fixture from Restoration Hardware.

And these are pictures of our trolleys.