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The Art of Technology

This is Colossal, really, it is. That's the name of a website that features, among other things, amazing works of art with high technology themes. There are hundreds of pages containing thousands of images, so after spending an inordinate amount of time sifting through pages in an orderly manner looking for for items of interest, I finally discovered the Search box. I then spent my valuable time looking only of for topics like radio, technology, computers, etc.

Antenna Telescopes on the Streets of Birmingham, UK - RF Cafe

"Antenna Telescopes on the Streets of Birmingham, UK" (thisiscolossal.com)

This first example, titled "Antenna Telescopes on the Streets of Birmingham, UK," is classified loosely as street art and was done to camouflage some satellite television dishes mounted to the side of a building. It would be interesting to see if the artist (unknown) planned for the images to look right from many different perspectives, not just the optimal one shown.

The Beauty of Mathematics - RF Cafe

"The Beauty of Mathematics: A Visual Demonstration of Math in Everyday Life" (thisiscolossal.com)

Next up is one called "The Beauty of Mathematics: A Visual Demonstration of Math in Everyday Life," from Parachutes.tv (not much else good there IMHO).  It is a video that shows many common type processes and events with a 3-panel display for each one. The leftmost panel has the governing equations, the center panel has a graphical simulation running based on the equations, and the rightmost panel shows the actual subject in situ. It is not necessarily awe-inspiring, but is a unique juxtapositioning of the science and mathematics behind events like a chemical reaction, airflow around an airfoil, computer code execution, a top spinning, etc.

Technological Mandalas Made from Soldered Computer and Radio Components - RF Cafe

"Technological Mandalas Made from Soldered Computer and Radio Components" (thisiscolossal.com)

Mandala (wikipedia) - RF CafeSharpen your pencils (or your circuit simulator) for "Technological Mandalas Made from Soldered Computer and Radio Components." The challenge here is to determine the complex impedance of the circuit between any two adjacent corners and across opposing corners. Writing the mesh equation would be a work of art in and of itself! The matrix would be hundreds of elements per side. A mandala, in case you are not familiar with the term, is a Sanskrit word for "circle," and is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism representing the Universe. I saw a video once of Buddhists creating them from colored sand - amazing. These by Leonardo Ulian utilize electronics components like resistors, inductors, capacitors, integrated circuits, ferrites, etc., to create symmetrical patterns.

Ships That Sail Through the Clouds, Luigi Prina - RF Cafe

"Ships That Sail Through the Clouds" (thisiscolossal.com)

"Ships That Sail Through the Clouds" is near and dear to my heart since it features stick-and-tissue model aircraft. The designs are more Da Vinci-esque than real flying machines, but they capture the essence of manned flight. 83-year-old architect and modeler Luigi Prina (warning: audio will play automatically on his website) built the craft and the display. Many feature boat hulls with aeroplane flying surfaces and airscrews for propulsion rather than water screws (propellers). Sì, in effetti, gli italiani e le loro macchine volanti - si devono amarli(Google translation). I would not want to be responsible for keeping the dust cleared off all those models!

The Cubli: A Gravity Defying Cube that Can Jump, Balance, and Walk

"The Cubli: A Gravity-Defying Cube that Can Jump, Balance, and Walk" (thisiscolossal.com)

The subject with the biggest cool factor has to be the "The Cubli: A Gravity-Defying Cube that Can Jump, Balance, and Walk." It is a motorized, computerized, wirelessly controlled gyroscopic platform that can motivate itself and perform seemingly gravity-defying antics. It can roll - in a cubic manner - up an inclined plane or instantly spring from sitting flat on a surface to standing on a corner without any means of support. Manipulating the spinning masses (gyroscopes) about the three orthogonal axes accomplishes the feats. Gyroscopic stabilization and precession are the motivating forces. This would make a great geek "toy" if some enterprising person were to productize it and get one of the Chinese manufacturers of radio controlled model helicopters and multicopters (aka drones) to produce them cheaply. Don't be surprised if the Cubli's creators at the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, ETH Zurich, Switzerland eventually do just that.

Circuit Scribe: Instantly Draw Functional Electrical Circuits on a Piece of Paper - RF Cafe

"Circuit Scribe: Instantly Draw Functional Electrical Circuits on a Piece of Paper" (thisiscolossal.com)

In college physics laboratory back in the 1980s, I remember using a pen with conductive ink to draw patterns on lightweight cardboard, connecting a DC voltage supply to them, and then sprinkling iron filings onto board. Lines of magnetic force would thus be revealed. We would sketch out the field lines onto the cardboard and then, using our learned knowledge, sketch equipotential electric force lines perpendicular to the magnetic force lines (or rather what would be if the magnetic field were to change). Amazingly, the resulting pictures resembled results predicted by the governing equations. Unlike today's physics classes where computer simulations quickly and effortlessly (for the operator) produce precise pictures, ours were generated with pencil on graph paper after manually calculating (with, admittedly the help of an electronic calculator, not a slide rule) the x-y coordinates in 2 dimensions for a set of points. But, I digress. What is shown here in "Circuit Scribe: Instantly Draw Functional Electrical Circuits on a Piece of Paper," is not field lines but sketched conductive lines used to effect connections for completing functional circuits. Circuit Scribe creators raised an astounding $624,475 in a Kickstarter campaign to develop a retail product for the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) educational market. If you want to make a fortune these days, find a way to sell into the government purchasing system - it has a money printing machine (the Fed) with an unlimited reserve of funds.

A 1:60-Scale Boeing 777 Built Entirely from Paper Manila Folders - RF Cafe

"A 1:60-Scale Boeing 777 Built Entirely from Paper Manila Folders" (thisiscolossal.com)

Finally, in a display of unbelievable talent, is "A 1:60-Scale Boeing 777 Built Entirely from Paper Manilla[sic] Folders". San Francisco-based designer Luca Iaconi-Stewart built the model over a 5-year time period. Did I mention that Luca was a junior in high school when he began the project? Once again I feel like a low achiever. Relying on detailed schematics of an Air India 777-300ER he found online, he created digital versions in Adobe Illustrator and then printed them directly onto the manila folders and the cut them out. The turbine engines have fully functional thrust reversers, cargo loading doors have functional hinges, and the cockpit is fully detailed. Manila (not 'manilla') folders, BTW, derive their name from the capital of the Philippines, where hemp from the abacá tree was originally used for the paper (no, you Coloradans can't roll the 777 and smoke it).



Posted February 9, 2014

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