I find it truly amazing how things were invented. Particularly, the science of photography. Especially all of the chemicals and light sensitive materials used. How was it discovered? Who thought to use red light to work in? It’s really quite interesting.
Well, the website Tested recently had a show in San Francisco where they went over some of the things they test. They had photographer Michael Shindler demo his wet plate photography technique live on stage. And who else did they have be the person in the portrait but San Francisco inhabitant and DIY maker extradoniare, Adam Savage.
Gear reduction is pretty basic mechanical engineering. It’s used everywhere and in everything. It’s a great way to give a person an introduction as how various machines work, and how to increase torque, or speed. The above contraption, made by Oskar van Deventer, has an astonishing gear ratio of 11,373,076 to 1. That means, the you would need to turn the crank 11.3 million times in order get the red gear to make one full rotation.
How does it work, well take a look at the exploded view of the contraption:
The red & green stages are what he calls grinder gears, the inside gears have one less tooth then the outside, so they spin rather slowly. Stack a few of those together, and then control it all with a regular planetary gear, and you have your 11 million to 1 ratio.
Now comes the important question. What practical purpose could this solve?
At the moment, nothing. But the theory exists, and now it just needs to become more precise, and eventually, in space we’ll need things super crazy like this. Or, you could reverse it, and get insane RPMs out of slow moving items. Something like that would work well in space I think, where there’s no friction, and tons of slow moving things.
I’ve seen many different periodic tables in my time. I like the awesome one best, but one thing all those had in common was trying constrain something in a setting it was never meant for. Sure, with some work you could get the character one making sense, and the awesome one too, but the internet one, that was pretty useless as the classic “Periodic Table” form.
What I like about the above is that it shows the actual elements, and things they are most commonly used for. Many of them are pretty good and you could figure out, but some would be a stretch. Or, maybe it’s a learning experience for those.
Like Neodymium, that looks like it’s used to make cars, but it’s actually used in the electric motors of hybrid cars, so that picture is misleading. Although it does tell you below what the picture is.
I also like the icons they have above the elements, this makes is much easier to group things.
In fact, I think they should make these postersized, and sell/give them away to schools. I would have had a much better experience in chemistry class if I knew what some of these unpronounceable things were used for.
Then computers were invented. Here’s a really neat little video explaining how the old style traffic lights work. The ones that use regular light bulbs, and moving parts, and lots of other breakable items. Right off the bat, I used to notice burned out traffic lights all the time, but I live in a town, not a big city, so maybe that’s the difference.
I looked for a video explaining how the newer LED based traffic lights work, and look, but couldn’t find one. Probably because as the guy said above, it looks much like the computer you’re reading this on, and does everything you can think of and then some.
Still it’s neat to see how things worked before we had computers to do everything for us.