These images have been chosen for their uniqueness. Subject matter ranges from historic events, to really cool phenomena in science and engineering,
to relevant place, to ingenious contraptions, to interesting products (which now has its own dedicated
Featured Product category).
Cool Pic Archive Pages
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2016 EPSRC Science Photography
The winners of the 2016 EPSRC "Science Photography Competition"
have been announced. It was held by the
Engineering and Physical
Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the "UK government agency for funding research and training in
engineering and the physical sciences, investing more than £800 million a year in a broad range of subjects
- from mathematics to materials science, and from information technology to structural engineering."
Recipients of funding from EPSRC submit photographs for judging. This year's top prize titled "Microwave
Ion-Trap Chip for Quantum Computation" went to Mrs. Diana Prado Lopes Aude Craik, University of Oxford,
for her photo of a gold ion trap. Per the website, it "shows the chip's gold wire-bonds
Telefontornet in Stockholm, Sweden
late 19th century photo of a telephone cable tower in Stockholm, Sweden, is seen frequently on the Internet.
The 'telefontonet' tower, owned by Stockholms Allmänna
Telefon AB (which later merged with Ericsson), supported 5,500 lines.
Those four decorative turrets at the top were added to beautify the tower after residents complained
about it being an eyesore. Raise your hand if you think it was a good solution. A couple decades later,
the company began burying phone lines underground and the tower was eventually taken down. At a smaller
scale, many modern data centers look a lot ...
NIST 83 GHz 16-Antenna Array
For many years I posted a weekly "Cool Pic" item derived from
articles I read in magazines and websites. I'm not sure why I stopped doing so - probably due to lack
of time - but seeing this über-cool-looking
16-element antenna array that
operates at 83 GHz. At initial inspection it appears to be a 16-port switch unit because unless
you are familiar with how small an 83 GHz antenna can be, those devices hanging off each port look
like push-on coaxial connectors, but they're not. This work is being done by engineers at the NIST in
a project researching how to best increase available wireless channel frequencies and bandwidth
Anaconda Copper Mining Company Advertisement
It's not often that you will see a full-page ad promoting a particular
element in the periodic table, but in 1950 that wasn't the case. This advertisement for
Mining Company promoted the virtues of element number 29 - copper (Cu , from the Latin "cuprum").
Aluminum and iron were other popular topics of advertising. If you do a search on the history of Anaconda,
which is today owned by the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO), what dominates is the harm done to workers
and to the environment. The short video below is one of the less vicious reports on the company's operations
in Butte, Montana and in Chile. As with many forms of mining back in the day, miners were subject to
very hazardous conditions, lived in company towns in company houses, sent their kids to company schools,
and bought their groceries at company stores. It was a rough life, and we who enjoy the abundant freedoms
and conveniences availed to us today owe
is a User Experience Lead* for
IDV Solutions (business intelligence software)
who likes to graph various types of data in a visually meaningful way. One of his latest projects is
plotting the paths
of tornados in the U.S. for the past 56 years based on data from NOAA as available on Data.gov.
The storms are presented according to the tornado F scale rating; the brighter lines represent more
violent storms. One commenter asked why all of the tracks appear to be straight lines when we know that
tornados typically take circuitous paths as they wreak their havoc. The answer is that the only the
beginning and end points for the storms were available.
*So, what is a User Experience Lead? According
to a job description I located: "Senior User Experience (UX) Leads are responsible for defining successful
high-level strategies for client projects including multimedia, desktop and mobile websites, web-based
applications, technology solutions, and other digital experiences. Gather, define, and clarify clients’
business objectives, brands, and audiences. Ttranslate this understanding into documentation that defines
the 'big idea' and guiding creative vision that will shape the entire project." Qualifications include
BS/BA degree in psychology, human factors, interactive design, information architecture, library science,
anthropology, or related field.
You might think I tend to dwell too much on the past because of
all the articles posted and references to vintage electronics companies and their employees. Maybe I
do. My motivation is two-fold. First, I enjoy waxing nostalgic over the simpler, less crowded days of
yore that were the 1920s through 1940s, and even into the 1950s. Things were not ideal by any means,
but America was a thriving bastion of national innovation and manufacturing. A "wow" factor surrounded
new discoveries and deserving heroes were created. Our friends as well as our enemies were well-defined
and our schools put more effort into teaching literature, mathematics, and science than into what "rights"
could be demanded without earning them. Second, which really follows from the first, is that I hope
by reminding people of, or in some cases - especially younger website visitors - introducing for the
first time, the fact that being a country that is fundamentally independent while at...
Some might call it artistic license. I call it epic failure. The
May 2012 edition of QST (p.79) had a photo from Bob Kernish, KD2ADL, of an avant-garde-style public
bench in Auckland, New Zealand, that features a repeating string of Morse Code characters. Bob was puzzled
over the apparent message, "SPARKLAG WATERS." After checking with some Aussie Hams, they believe it
was intended to say, "SPARKLING WATERS." I'm guessing it was a government project, designed by committee,
and no authority on Morse Code was engaged during the process. The project was probably over budget
and late, so there was no more money to re-paint the message. Per the poster's investigation, "The Port
of Auckland is part of the Waitemata Harbour ('sparkling waters' is the translation of this Maori word)."
Maybe the Maoris pronounce "ing" an just "g." The original photo and a short description of the phenomenon
is available at http://auckland-west.co.nz/?p=9153
. These benches are located at the entrance to Queens Wharf. I did a search using
Street View on Google Maps, but could not locate the benches. Maybe they were installed
after the Google camera vehicle captured their images. I cannot find a spot that looks like the other
photo on the page. There appears to be trolley or train track embedded in the sidewalk, and I do not
see them anywhere...
A decision was made by the United Kingdom in 1994 to produce 2-pound
(£2) coins for general circulation. Public input was sought regarding a theme for the design of
the reverse face (back) of the coins; the obverse (front) would feature the standard bust of the Queen.
Four year later, the British Royal Mint issued its first coin. The bi-color coins all have a nickel-brass
(dark) inner component and a cupro-nickel (light) outer component. Designs would tell the story, through
symbolic devices, of technological development from the Iron Age to the Industrial Revolution and from
the Computer Age to the Internet. An edge inscription was included to identify the object or event being
commemorated. Designed by Robert Evans, the third coin in the yearly series pays tribute to the contributions
of Guglielmo Marconi. Per the British Royal Mint's website: "100th Anniversary of
Marconi's 1st Wireless Transmission across the Atlantic. Radio waves decorating centre and outer
border while a spark of electricity linking the zeros of the date represents the generation of the signal
designed by Robert Evans." The chosen design contains a rendition of Guglielmo...
For the last few years, IEEE's International
Symposium on the Physical and Failure Analysis of Integrated Circuits has held an "Art of Failure
Analysis" photo contest. Familiar shapes and pattern occur regularly in nature at the macro level that
can be seen and recognized by almost anyone; e.g., the Nautilus spiral, the Fibonacci series in plant
life, and fractal structures. It takes a high power optical microscope or even a scanning electron microscope
(SEM) to see those familiar sights in the realm of the very small. Sometimes, though, the images are
downright bazaar and look eerily familiar. This first-place winner from the 2012 "Art of Failure Analysis"
is a good example. Titled, "People on the Beach," this first-prize-winning SEM image by Infineon's Lim
Saw Sing. It is an exposed a polyimide surface that was etched by reactive ions. Is that cool or what?
"The Hope Terrace" is another familiar sight. It looks just like a formation of tiered cliffs with wind-blown
snow or sand upon them. "Silver Leaves" appears to be an infrared type image of a cluster of plants.
We have seen a lot plant-like SEM images. "Big Nose" reminds me of Mr. Bill yelling "Oh, nooo...." while
pleading for mercy from Sluggo. "Lunar Eclipse" looks more to me like an annular solar eclipse, but
I suppose artistic license permits the photographer to name it anything he wants...
Science magazine ran a short feature titled "Outer Space, Indoors," in the January 2013 edition.
The main photo is a shot of the inside of the
RF anechoic chamber at
the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). Its thousands of RF absorbing
pyramids are painted a dark, electric blue with black tips, which makes for a very stunningly artistic
image. Narcotics-inspired sculptors of sculptures could scarcely improve on the visual impact of this
imminently and supremely functional structure. Interestingly, I could not find a single picture of the
anechoic chamber on the DTU website other than a small section of it from before the new paint job.
According to my search for the original, the one in PopSci appears to have originated on the
website of photographer Alastair Philip Wiper, where many high resolution views of the anechoic chamber's
inside are posted. A steel Faraday cage encloses the chamber, but I could not find any photos of it.
A picture of the power, data, and RF cabling interface(s) would have been
interesting to see.
Remember the recent epic patent-related court battle that resulted
in Samsung being ordered to pay Apple one billion dollars in damages? Well, Samsung paid payed up -
with 30 truckloads of 5-cent coins! Per the article: "This morning more than 30 trucks filled with 5-cent
coins arrived at Apple’s headquarters in California. Initially, the security company that protects the
facility said the trucks were in the wrong place, but minutes later, Tim Cook (Apple CEO) received a
call from Samsung CEO explaining that they will pay $1 billion dollars for the fine recently ruled against
the South Korean company in this way." While this certainly is hilarious, the fact is that it must have
cost Samsung a significant amount of money to have 30 trucks filled with coins and to pay for the security
for having it transported to Apple. Sure, it'll cost Apple some amount to process the exchange (no pun
intended on the "change" part of "exchange"), but Steve's ghost and Apple shareholders are doing the
real laughing as they deposit an additional $1,000,000,000 into the coffers and then collect dividend