Bored of the skiing down mountains? Maybe you should try skiing up them with the Uphill Racer. via Popular Mechanics
A lifelong downhill skier and industrial mechanic/Âmillwright, Jim Maidment was frustrated by the fact that he could pursue his favorite pastime only near a chair lift. “When you’re on a slope, all that energy is free–as long as you’re going in that one direction,” he says. So Maidment hacked together a 6.5-hp generator engine (bought from Costco for $125) with a small, off-the-shelf snowmobile track from Bombardier, inventing a machine he calls the Skizee. He then headed for the mountains to refine his creation, moving from Ontario to Kimberley, British Columbia, Canada’s second-loftiest city. So far, he’s decreased the size and added a variable torque converter to change the power ratio and climb hills. His latest Skizee can go 12 mph uphill and can reach 25 mph in flat powder. Maidment continues to test his invention in the snowy woods around his home, and he’s making final tweaks to the design now. One day he hopes to see the Skizee in pro shops everywhere.
Johnny Lee and his team at Google are developing Project Tango – a smart phone that, using sensors, can capture and build a 3D model of the physical world around you, via archdaily.
Project Tango brings a whole new dimension (the third one) to what we could potentially do with our phones: imagine creating a 30 second model to take away from a site visit, for example, or using augmented reality to show a design or an installation in situ, navigable in real time. Currently, Google is in the process of distributing 200 prototypes to app developers, who will hopefully help it realize this tremendous potential.
What if you could capture the dimensions of your home simply by walking around with your phone before you went furniture shopping? What if directions to a new location didn’t stop at the street address? What if you never again found yourself lost in a new building? What if the visually-impaired could navigate unassisted in unfamiliar indoor places? What if you could search for a product and see where the exact shelf is located in a super-store?
Imagine playing hide-and-seek in your house with your favorite game character, or transforming the hallways into a tree-lined path. Imagine competing against a friend for control over territories in your home with your own miniature army, or hiding secret virtual treasures in physical places around the world?
Most people see slime mold and think “gross”. But researchers have discovered a new use for the substance- urban planning. Via The Guardian.
When asked, slime mould would reroute the M6. For years now, researchers in the field of urban transport have looked at biomimicry as a tool for establishing the most efficient routes around congested cities, typically by road or rail.
The use of naturally occurring living organisms to solve spatial design problems has, in this area, variously been explored by mimicking the foraging process of ants or the growth of crystal structures. But it is a particular form of slime mould, Physarum polycephalum (the “many-headed slime”), that has shown particular promise, having been applied to cities around the world and now offering the potential for mimicking regularly occurring events, such as rush hours.
P polycephalum is a plasmodial, single-celled organism which grows outward from a single point, searching for food sources. Once these have been located, the many branches it has sent out die back, leaving only the most efficient route between food source nodes.
By arranging pieces of oatmeal on a Petri dish to represent railway stations, researchers at the University of Hokkaido in Japan successfully grew a slime mould model of the Tokyo rail system in 2010. Since then, slime has mapped the optimum transport networks of numerous cities, as well as the Silk Road and a full global trade route.
In a comparison of 14 countries’ motorway networks, a global team of researchers led by Professor Andrew Adamatzky – director of the unconventional computing centre at the University of the West of England – used oat flakes and slime to establish that cities in Belgium, Canada and China had existing transport networks most similar to the slime model, and thus were most efficient, while networks in the US and Africa were indicated to be the least efficient.
Send your littleBits circuits out into the world wearing SHOES! Now you can hold your circuits together and place them on any surface. Try magnet shoes on your refrigerator, hook & loop shoes on your dog’s collar, or adhesive shoes for more permanent installations. Check out the projects below for inspiration and be sure to visit our Shoes Tips & Tricks Page for more ideas.
Magnet Shoes in Action
Make a mailbox indicator light. This circuit sits directly on your metal mailbox (due to magnet shoes) and signifies when mail is placed inside. When letters are placed on top of the roller switch, the long LED on the exterior of the box shines bright. Out with the flag and in with the long LED! littleBits circuit: power + roller switch + wire + bright LED.
Hook & Loop Shoes in Action
Shoes on shoes — secure your circuit to a pair of sneakers to make these Stomping Shoes. The light wire lights up whenever you stomp down due to a sound trigger. All you need to do is stick an adhesive velcro adhesive strip to the sneaker, add hook & loop shoes to your circuit, lace up the light wire and start dancing.
Make a light-up dog collar! Design your circuit (we used a power module, a sound trigger, wires, and bargraphs) and lock it together with hook & loop shoes. Sew parts sections of a velcro strip to the collar, position the circuit, and watch the collar light up when your dog barks.
Adhesive Shoes in Action
Using adhesive shoes, secure your synth circuit to any material and make an instrument. We made a Keytar! The adhesive on the shoes sticks nicely to the acrylic surface of our keytar and holds the modules snugly in place.
Need some littleBits shoes in your life? Click here
This case from Jeffrey Stephenson transforms your iPad Mini into a retro TV set, from DesignTAXI.
Modeled after retro television sets, the ‘DuMont’ is made of birch plywood with a semi-gloss lacquer finish and comes with a speaker grille. It contains an opening that fits a Jawbone Jambox, and speaker controls are accessed from the bottom. Simply slot the iPad Mini into the side of the case to relive the nostalgia of a bygone era.
The ‘Dumont’ isn’t for sale but interested parties can contact Stephenson directly. For more information on how he created the case, visit the Bit-Tech forums to view the project work log.
Homer Simpson taught us a lot about advanced math. via Salon
The first “Treehouse of Horror” episode appeared in the second season of “The Simpsons,” and since then they have become an annual Halloween tradition. These special episodes usually consist of three short stories that are allowed to break the conventions of life in Springfield, with storylines that can include anything from aliens to zombies.
David S. Cohen, one of the writers most dedicated to getting mathematics into “The Simpsons,” wrote the final part of “Treehouse of Horror VI” (1995), a segment titled “Homer 3.” This is, without doubt, the most intense and elegant integration of mathematics into “The Simpsons” since the series began a quarter of a century ago.
The storyline begins quite innocently with Patty and Selma, Homer’s sisters-in-law, paying a surprise visit to the Simpsons. Keen to avoid them, Homer hides behind a bookcase, where he encounters a mysterious portal that seems to lead into another universe. As the dulcet tones of Patty and Selma get louder, Homer hears that they want everyone to help clean and organize their collection of seashells. In desperation, he dives through the portal, leaving behind his two-dimensional Springfield environment and entering an incredible three-dimensional world. Homer is utterly perplexed by his new extra dimensionality and notices something shocking: “What’s going on here? I’m so bulgy. My stomach sticks way out in front.”
Instead of being drawn in the classic flat-animation style of “The Simpsons,” scenes set in this higher dimension have a sophisticated three-dimensional appearance. In fact, these scenes were generated using cutting-edge computer animation techniques, and the cost of generating them, even though they lasted less than five minutes, was far beyond the budget of an entire normal episode. Fortunately, a company named Pacific Data Images (PDI) volunteered its services, because it realized that “The Simpsons” would provide a global platform for showcasing its technology. Indeed, PDI signed a deal with DreamWorks later that year which led directly to the production of “Antz” and “Shrek,” thereby kick-starting a revolution in film animation.
Each Saturday Morning here at Adafruit is Saturday Morning Cartoons! Be sure to check our cartoon and animated posts both nostalgic and new that inspire makers of all ages! You’ll find how-tos for young makers, approaches to learning about science and engineering, and all sorts of comic strip and animated Saturday Morning fun! Be sure to check out our Adafruit products featuring comic book art while you’re at it!
The Match-Maker cosmically connects people this Valentine’s Day. Guided by their zodiac sign, visitors arrange themselves at twelve points around the heart-shaped sculpture. Peering through colorful, interwoven periscopes provides glimpses of each viewer’s four most ideal astrological mates, offering potential novel connections between lonely souls or settled lovers. The form of the sculpture is elusive, complex, symmetrical, and changes as viewers experience it from different vantage points throughout Times Square. From many points of view it forms a perfect and iconic heart, from other perspectives it is tangled and perplexing.
Happy Valentine’s Day from Adafruit! Today we are highlighting our favorite heart-shaped electronics projects. We have lots of excellent projects to let your loved one know that you care. Be sure to check out our gift guide as well!
Hit the streets with littleBits. Check out projects featuring our newest accessory, the mounting board. The mounting board allows you to keep your circuit intact and move it around with ease! Simply snap together your littleBits circuit and press the feet of your modules into the holes of the mounting board. Here are a few examples of what you can make!
Skateboard – Trick out your ride with littleBits light effects. This sound-activated skateboard lights up the streets with LEDs and a light wire as you ride along. Simply attach your modules to the bottom of the skateboard with mounting boards! Hit the road and never look back.
Boombox –This portable mini boombox is great for carrying around town. Just place a synth circuit (with 2 speakers) on two sandwiched mounting boards and add an exterior casing. Then spread some music love to the streets.
Mounting Board Puppy Robot –This little puppy bot has two mounting boards for a body. Just add littleBits and some sturdy legs to get him walking. Control his stride by adjusting the pulse and slide dimmers that connect to his servo-activated legs. Activate the sound and motion triggers and he will happily come over and greet you.
Want to add a set of mounting boards to your littleBits collection? Click here.
Michael Wolf’s Architecture of Density, in which he examines the size and patterns of Hong Kong’s massive skyscrapers, is on view at Flowers Gallery in London through February 22, from we heart.co.uk.
Land is a finite resource, and there are few places where the pressure is on so acutely than in Hong Kong. Restricted by its island geography, the city’s solution to a rising population has been to build upwards, and Hong Kong now has more skyscrapers over 150m tall than any other city in the world. Michael Wolf has lived there since 1994, and has seen the rapid growth in people and buildings first hand.
Architecture of Density is the photographer’s examination of the city and its buildings, one in which the context is largely removed and the scale is only understandable when viewed in relation to itself. Repeating patterns in the architecture overwhelm, while in others we see evidence of human interaction with their megalithic homes – clothes draped over balconies for example, as ingenuity maximises the potential of every surface. Flowers Gallery on Cork Street, London, is hosting the exhibition until 22 February, and there is a monograph being launched in conjunction with the show, called Hong Kong Trilogy, published by Peperoni Books.
David Benjamin’s “Hy-Fi” selected as the winning project for MoMA PS1′s annual Young Architects Program. His temporary installation is set to open in late June, via fastcodesign:
Benjamin’s bio-design concept will consist of two kinds of brick: some made out of live organic material, and some reflective bricks. For the organic bricks, chopped up corn husks are recycled to combine with mycelium, a kind of mushroom root material. The mixture is then packed into a mold. The reflective bricks, placed at the top of the tubular structure, bounce light off a daylight mirror film coating onto the organic material below, helping them self-assemble into a brick shape and solidify. The shape of the structure pushes hot air out the top, drawing in cool air below.
The outdoor installation, required by the contest rules to provide outdoor seating, shade and water, will, at the end of the summer, be disassembled with no waste. The organic bricks will be composted, and the reflective bricks returned to 3M, the company that makes the mirror film, for further research.
Try your luck with the littleBits Lucky Slot Machine and win a handful of candy hearts for your special someone. This slot machine operates just like the real thing. Pull the lever to start the graphics spinning on three DC motors. As they stop spinning in succession, win big when three hearts line up. When the hearts align, so do three bright LEDs and three corresponding light triggers. This signals the servo-activated trapdoor to release a candy jackpot. Find more Valentine’s Day projects made with littleBits here.
Curator Clarrie Wallis provides some how-to insight on sculpture installation, drawing from her recent experience assembling the Richard Deacon show at the Tate:
Installing sculpture is great fun. Tate has a fantastic team of technicians and conservators. To install the show at Tate Britain we have also enlisted the help of two of Richard Deacon’s long-term collaborators – Matthew Perry, who has worked with him for 30 years, and Niels Dietrich, at whose ceramics studio in Cologne Richard makes his clay pieces. There are about 30 works in the show. Among the monumental sculptures are the flowing contours of wood-laminated works, such as Blind Deaf and Dumb A made in 1985, galvanised steel sculptures and some improbably large ceramics…
While formulating ideas as to how to approach the selection I really enjoyed making models of the sculptures from pipe cleaners, cornflake packets and plasticine. They have been incredibly useful as a three-dimensional working tool. It’s always exciting to watch a work come out of its crate and see how, piece by piece, the show gradually takes shape. Each day is different when putting a show together and there is always a huge variety of jobs to do. These range from making decisions about the specific placement of works, to working with colleagues in Tate’s Learning and Press departments on last-minute details…
The collection is inspired by the Fractal Cosmology theory which maintains the structure of the universe to be of the fractal nature and the universe itself to be infinite in any direction. A fractal is a kind of geometric shape which can de divided into parts, each at least approximately a reduced-size semblance of the whole, or a self-similar shape. According to the theory, there is a hierarchical organization (or nesting) of matter – from the elementary particles to the clusters off galaxies, with three main levels: atomic, astral and galactic. So the central issue of Fractal Cosmology is that the universe may consist of infinite number of levels which are similar to each other but different in scale – thereby there could be no “smallest” nor “largest” scales – the whole observable universe can be enclosed inside a molecule of some larger-scale universe and at the same time an atom may contain another world with its own galaxies, stars and inhabited planets…
Models of the collection represent a variety of matter levels in the universe. All pieces’ patterns are composed of the one repeating basic element – the square divided by diagonals – an elementary particle, but each model has a different scale and number of particles involved.
With affordable and relief housing on the brain, researchers at USC developed an enormous 3D printer capable of creating housing structures in rapid time, via mashable:
Forget waiting weeks or months for your new home to be ready. Researchers from the University of Southern California created a 3D printer that can build a 2,500 square-foot house in 24 hours.
Since 2008, Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis has led a research team in the creation and development of a new layered fabrication technology using 3D printing called Contour Crafting. Instead of using thermoplastics, a common material used in 3D printing, the robot applies layer after layer of concrete to construct straight and curved walls, as well as domes.
The process involves a giant robot with a hanging nozzle and a flexible arm on a gantry-type crane — the whole rig is known as a “contour crafter” — above the foundation. The contour crafter then proceeds to layer concrete based on a computer-generated pattern. The layers eventually take shape into walls, embedded with all the necessary conduits and passages for electricity, plumbing and air conditioning