Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

January 12th, 2009:

Odd Lots

  • Don Lancaster sent me a link to the Draganfly, a mighty cool RC/GPS guided helicopter for
    aerial photography or police/military applications. MIT has worked out an algorithm for swarming these things, which isn’t too
    mind-blowing when you have three or four…but how about a few thousand?
  • On the other end of the scale for flying machines, Wired
    reports the opening
    of the Jumbo Hostel, a pulled-from-service 747 jumbo jet that was gutted and fitted out with (small) rooms for Stockholm airport travelers who simply can’t get enough claustrophobia.
  • And if you’re looking for something that will not only fly but fly high, there’s the unfortunately named Skylon, to which I call your attention because it reminds me of those Bonestell drawings of the canonical 50’s three-stage orbital rocket, particularly the nose section. Alas, we won’t see it for ten years, which is about how far into the future such things always are. (The only thing farther out is commercial nuclear fusion.)
  • Here’s another very spooky atmospheric phenomenon described on Spaceweather. This is not a sundog but a subsun, which is much brighter and I’m guessing a lot more startling.
  • Fractal woodburning, anyone?
  • While American technical and scientific magazines seem to be cratering right and left, Steve Moulding writes to tell us that Elektor Electronics , a longstanding European publication catering to hobby electronics, will be launching a printed North American edition. It’s unclear how this will differ from the UK edition (which is the only one I’ve ever seen) but anything that helps promote hands-on electronics here is welcome. (There’s not much left on the home front but QEX and Nuts & Volts .)
  • And if the loss of paper magazines depresses you, consider that just a few days ago, the last paper player-piano music roll came off the assembly line in Buffalo. Interestingly, brand new player pianos of this sort were being sold well into the 1960s; the family down the street where I grew up had one when I was tweve or so.
  • A Japanese chap built himself an automated book scanner using Lego. (!!!) It’s a delightfully Goldbergish contraption that basically holds the scanner upside down and presses an opened book up against the inverted scanner glass, dropping the book between scans to turn the pages. (Watch the video!) Big Pub seems excessively worried about ebooks and feels that their refuge still lies in paper. Maybe not. (I’ll bet I could do up something like this in Meccano, of which I have much. Just another three hours in the day, fersure…)