Category Archives: technology

A Rube Goldberg machine

From Matthew, who says, “It’s not a really an RG machine but it is smart and has >1 m views in a week…”  This is a really cool contraption, and uses just ordinary household stuff, along with springs and magnets. I can only imagine the work it took to make this! And the video’s notes: […]

How an IMAX projector works

I’m worn out by the Charlottesville business, and depressed that some readers are calling for speech bans. We won’t discuss that in this thread (there are other posts where you can do that). Instead, let’s learn how an IMAX projector works. I’ve been to a few IMAX movies, the first being “Flying” or “Flight” (can’t […]

The dumbest inventions of our time: pizza accoutrements

From First We Feast, we have one of the dumbest inventions of our time: a portable pizza pouch for those who want to buy two slices but want to eat one on the go while keeping the other on hand. I can think of a gazillion reasons why this is dumb, including the fact that […]

Siri, Alexa, and other bots tested for feminist purity, fail miserably

There’s a famous story about Samuel Johnson and his dictionary that is appropriate to begin this piece. The story is this: Mrs. Digby told me that when she lived in London with her sister, Mrs. Brooke, they were every now and then honoured by the visits of Dr. Johnson. He called on them one day […]

An amazing robot

Meet “Handle”, the kind of robot we only dreamed about as kids (well, if you’re as old as I). It’s just now been introduced to the world by Boston Dynamics, and the YouTube notes say this: Handle is a research robot that combines the efficiency of wheels with the versatility of legs. It stands 6.5 […]

Cartoons and cars

There are a few miscellaneous items that I didn’t know where to put.  First, readers George, jsp, and many others (first one below) sent cartoons: Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller: From Facebook (I’m wondering whether this will satisfy Diana MacPherson, or whether she’d go into the bathroom on the right and reverse the toilet roll): […]

Magnets, marbles, and ball bearings: a fantastic device

It took some hard-working person hours to make this, and make it work. But in the end, it’s mesmerizing. It doesn’t accomplish anything, but does demonstrate both human ingenuity and the laws of physics. And it’s almost art.

Update: the heated bogroll dilemma

Reader Jiten called my attention to a tw**t by Graham Farmelo, an author who wrote a terrific biography of Dirac (see my short review here): You’d think, wouldn’t you, that the inventor of the roll would know which way it should be oriented. But to me, the decisive argument is that cats prefer unrolling toilet paper […]

Apple vs. U.S. government: a big dilemma

Most of you know about this already: the FBI, investigating the December murderers of 14 people in San Bernardino by two Muslim extremists, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, have asked Apple to unlock Farook’s iPhone 5c, which may contain clues about the murders or other terrorists. A federal judge ordered Apple to create the software necessary to […]

The bionic kitty

I’m putting this up because I got it from reader Matt and also learned how to embed a video starting in the middle. Voilà: the story of Vincent, the bionic kitty. You can stop it at 2:04.