Archive for ‘Technology’

October 2, 2019

Rocket Mail

Astrophilately

Rocket mail is the delivery of mail by rocket or missile. The rocket lands by deploying an internal parachute upon arrival. It has been attempted by various organizations in many different countries, with varying levels of success. It has never become widely seen as being a viable option for delivering mail, due to the cost of the schemes and numerous failures.

The collection of philatelic material (‘stamps’) used for (and depicting) rocket mail is part of a specialist branch of aerophilately known as astrophilately.

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September 17, 2019

Walking Truck

Ralph Mosher

The walking truck or Cybernetic Walking Machine was an experimental quadruped walking vehicle created by General Electric in 1965. It was designed by engineer Ralph Mosher to help infantry carry equipment over rough terrain. It alternatively bore the name of ‘CAM,’ an acronym for ‘cybernetic anthropomorphous machine,’ as seen in a segment of the Walter Cronkite–hosted documentary television program ‘The Twentieth Century’ in 1968.

As of 2019, the surviving prototype can be seen at the U.S. Army Transportation Museum in Fort Eustis, Virginia. The robot weighs 3,000 pounds and can walk up to 5 miles per hour. It was exhausting to control and, according to program lead Mosher who was the designer and primary driver, operators could only drive the walking truck for a limited time. Mosher also worked on the unsuccessful Hardiman project for GE, the first attempt to build a practical powered exoskeleton.

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July 26, 2019

Nike Shox

Nike Shox

Shox is a shoe feature first released by Nike in 2000 that is incorporated in several of their flagship athletic sports shoes. The shoe design includes a support system feature, which is an arrangement of small hollow columns in the midsole supporting the shoe’s heel, which are made primarily with polyurethane.

There are different formations of the shox technology, but most models include four circular columns in a square formation to provide cushioning. Later variations in shox models added one or two additional shox, 25 mm high, though they may vary in height; as well as triangular and rectangular shox that Nike claims provide better stability. Some shoes have midsoles made entirely of Shox, like the TL series.

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July 11, 2019

Scunthorpe Problem

Dirty Words

The Scunthorpe problem is the unintentional blocking of websites, e-mails, forum posts, or search results by a spam filter or search engine because their text contains a string of letters that appear to have an obscene or otherwise unacceptable meaning. Names, abbreviations, and technical terms are most often cited as being affected by the issue.

The problem arises since computers can easily identify strings of text within a document, but interpreting words of this kind requires considerable ability to interpret a wide range of contexts, possibly across many cultures, which is an extremely difficult task. As a result, broad blocking rules may result in false positives affecting innocent phrases.

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July 3, 2019

Car Tailfin

Harley Earl

The tailfin era of automobile styling encompassed the 1950s and 1960s, peaking between 1955 and 1961. It was a style that spread worldwide, as car designers picked up styling trends from the US automobile industry, where it was regarded as the ‘golden age’ of American auto design.

General Motors design chief Harley Earl is often credited for the automobile tailfin, introducing small fins on the 1948 Cadillac, but according to many sources the actual inventor/designer of the tailfin for that vehicle was Franklin Quick Hershey, then chief of the GM Special Car Design Studio. It was Hershey, who after seeing an early production model of a WWII P-38 fighter plane at Selfridge air base, thought the twin rudders of the airplane would make a sleek design addition to the rear of future modern automobiles.

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June 11, 2019

Rio PMP300

PMP

The Rio PMP300 is one of the first portable consumer MP3 digital audio players, and the first commercially successful one. Produced by Diamond Multimedia, it was introduced in 1998 as the first in the ‘Rio’ series of digital audio players, and it shipped later that year. The Rio retailed for US $200 with the ability to hold around 30 minutes of music at a bitrate of 128 kbit/s.

It shipped with 32 MB of internal memory and has a SmartMedia slot, allowing users to add additional memory. It is powered by a single AA battery, which provides between 8 and 12 hours of playback time. Connection to a personal computer is through the computer’s parallel port, with a proprietary connector on the Rio’s edge.

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May 30, 2019

Splinternet

Great Firewall

The splinternet (also referred to as ‘cyber-balkanization’) is a characterization of the Internet as splintering and dividing due to various factors, such as technology, commerce, politics, nationalism, religion, and interests. China erected a ‘Great Firewall’ to restrict the informational sources its citizens have access to. The U.S. and Australia, are discussing plans to create a similar systems to block child pornography or weapon-making instructions.

Clyde Wayne Crews, a researcher at the Cato Institute, first used the term in 2001 to describe his concept of ‘parallel Internets that would be run as distinct, private, and autonomous universes.’ Crews used the term in a positive sense, but more recent writers, like Scott Malcomson, a fellow in New America’s International Security program, use the term pejoratively, describing a threat to the internet’s status as a globe-spanning network of networks.

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May 10, 2019

Frankfurt Kitchen

Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky

The Frankfurt kitchen was the first unified concept kitchen. It was designed to enable efficient work, maximize the usable area of a small space, and to be built at low cost in 1926 by Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky for architect Ernst May’s social housing project ‘New Frankfurt’ in Frankfurt, Germany.

German cities after the end of World War I were plagued by a serious housing shortage. Various social housing projects were built in the 1920s to increase the number of rental apartments for working class families subject on tight budget constraints. As a consequence, the apartments designed were comfortable but not spacious.

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April 30, 2019

Bubblegram

Focus

bubblegram (also known as ‘laser crystal,’ ‘3D crystal engraving,’ or ‘vitrography’) is a solid block of transparent plastic that has been exposed to intersecting laser beams in appropriately to induce a chemical reaction via heat or photonic excitation, creating bubbles or nodes where the plastic has a different index of refraction.

A complex or highly detailed image occupying a 5 cm cubic volume typically requires the creation of tens of thousands of such points.

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April 25, 2019

Dooring

Dutch Reach

Dooring is a traffic collision in which a cyclist rides into a car door or is struck by a car door that was opened quickly without checking first for cyclists by using the side mirror and/or performing a proper shoulder check out and back.

The width of the door zone in which this can happen varies, depending upon the model of car one is passing. The zone can be almost zero for a vehicle with gull-wing doors or much larger for a truck. Dooring can happen when a driver has parked and is exiting their vehicle, or when passengers are exiting from cars, taxis and ride shares into the path of a cyclist approaching from the rear.

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April 1, 2019

Smart Contract

Nick Szabo

smart contract is a computer protocol intended to digitally facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract. Smart contracts allow the performance of credible transactions without third parties. These transactions are trackable and irreversible.

Proponents of smart contracts claim that many kinds of contractual clauses may be made partially or fully self-executing, self-enforcing, or both. The aim of smart contracts is to provide security that is superior to traditional contract law and to reduce other transaction costs associated with contracting. Various cryptocurrencies have implemented types of smart contracts.

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February 19, 2019

Enchroma

Color blindness

Enchroma lenses are glasses designed to improve and modify some aspects of color vision deficiency for color blind people. Glass scientist Dr. Donald McPherson invented Enchroma glasses by accident. He originally invented this type of lens to protect surgeons during laser operations. In 2002 at the Ultimate Frisbee tournament in Santa Cruz, California McPherson lent a pair to a friend who was color blind. His friend saw colors he had never seen before.

McPherson started studying color blindness, and with Andrew Schmeder founded the company EnChroma Inc. in 2010 to sell glasses that compensate for color vision deficiency. Enchroma glasses target people with difficulties in distinguishing reds and greens. The first pair of commercial glasses were released in 2012.

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