User Input

User Input: A Modest Proposal for the Winter Olympics


The 1936 Italian bobsleigh team engages in hijinks.

Good morning everyone. The quadriannual Winter Olympics are well under way, and I for one have been watching far too much of them. I especially enjoy the biathlons, as I enjoy target shooting and detest skiing when it involves me. One can only marvel at the marksmanship of the athletes after they ski a couple of miles around a mountain (up and down hill) then stop and try to shoot 5 small targets at 100 yards (or so), all while breathing like a bellows and their hearts racing, then getting up and doing it again (and again and again sometimes). Good stuff.

Watching the other events, however, I couldn’t help but notice that there are long, boring intervals during the competitions (sometimes the entire competition) that could benefit from something being added. The obvious answer to that is: firearms and/or projectile devices ala the biathlon.

I put the question to the AT staff that aren’t in hiding (something to do with the mayor of Toronto as I understand it) and we worked up a few ideas, which are after the jump.

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Atomic Awesome, Big Complicated Machines, Technostalgia

Mesta Memories #24: Steam-Hydraulic Forging Presses


 The Mesta Machine Company made large, and I daresay even huge, hydraulic forging presses for a great many years while they were in operation, and were widely used in industry. A while back I wrote a post about the 50,000 ton Mesta hydraulic forging press The “Fifty”, which was built several decades after the dinky little 8,000 ton steam-hydraulic press pictured above. Back in the day, however, an 8,000 ton forging press was a pretty big tool, and the largest that Mesta made at the time (circa 1919) was “only” 15,000 tons.

These machines were the workhorses of many forges through the years as the most efficient way of producing large forgings. I think that they’re wonderful.

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Geeky Planetary Science

Geeky Planetary Science: Earth Winds

This illustrates why I never want to sail the Southern Ocean.

I’ve come across several articles about the new interactive wind map modeled from the U.S. National Weather Service’s Global Forecast System database, but I hadn’t gotten around to checking it out until today whilst catching up on Universe Today. You should take [...]

User Input

User Input: Good Lord, That’s Ugly…

A pickle for Xmas? Oh please…

Good morning everyone, it’s been a while.

This morning, as I was chipping the ice off of my legs (it’s been rather chilly here in the lower 48, hasn’t it? I’m sure that it’s another heinous Canadian plot), I got thinking about Xmas tree decorations. In my [...]

Atomic Awesome, Big Complicated Machines, Technostalgia

Mesta Memories #23: Rope Drives and Flywheels


A large-ish rope drive wheel being turned on a pit lathe.

Following on to the last post about the giant frikkin’ gears that the Mesta Machine Co. used to make, this time we’ll take a quick look at their rope drives and flywheels which are also predictably huge.

As it states above, rope drives are used where quiet and smooth transmission of power is required and belts are either not strong enough or too cumbersome. A good example is the drive mechanisms used by most elevators used in buildings. Could you imagine riding a chain-driven elevator up to the 50th floor of a building? I can, unfortunately, and it makes me want to go outside and sit on the nice, safe gravel of my front yard.

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Seems Like Longer….

Three years ago, an idea takes form in the minds of our intrepid heroes….

“It’s really rainin’, eh?”

“Oh yeah, it’s really pissing down.”

“Whose bright idea to move to B.C. was it now, eh? Yours I think.”

“You lived here already, you hoser. Don’t try to blame it on me.”

“I wonder [...]

Atomic Awesome, Big Complicated Machines, Technostalgia

Mesta memories #22: Gear Drives


One of the things that always stand out to me when I’m looking at pictures of old factories and machinery, is the enormous gears that are used almost everywhere. The herringbone-toothed gear shown above is a great example.

The Mesta Machine Company made a great variety of large gear drives for heavy industry and power production. The following pictures show some of the monstrous gears that Mesta made on a regular basis.

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Shutdown: A Method for Science

She’s my kind of girl…

Not often do I find an example of my way of thinking regarding the expansion of the boundaries of science, but Monday’s installment of the Girl Genius comic hits the bullseye while striking the nail on the head, so to speak. After I read it, I jumped up [...]


Shutdown: Showing the Flag

Click to Largerizerize

I had just dug my way out of a mound of sawdust, broken wood, twisted metal and scattered tools, and I as I lay there gazing up at the sky through what until very recently had been my ceiling, and beyond that, my roof, I thought to myself, “Bloody hell, [...]


Recording the Shuttle Launches


The mailboxes are watching…

We’ve all watched lots of videos of various NASA launches, especially launches of the Space Shuttle. I’ve always marveled at the videos that show the vehicles clearly at very high altitudes and wondered at what kind of equipment that they use. Well, perusing the UK edition of Gizmodo, I found my answer. A post by Jamie Condliffe today included a video from the 1980s about the photo operations at Kennedy Space Center, and shows all sorts of interesting old camera tech and the various shops and contractors that made it all work. Well worth watching after the jump.

Photo Credit: NASA

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