Genius Innovators

These High Schoolers Are Already Cooler Than Me

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When I see stories like this it gives me hope for our future. Here is a high school class who is not only building an impressive robot, but they are using it to help others and learn about a portion of history that soon will not have anyone left [...]

Genius Innovators

The Plotclock Is Mesmerizing

I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted just watching this video over and over.

Make your own Plotclock (in German, but with a link to an English page)!

Genius Innovators

Finnish Innovation

Lågskär is a small island just off the southern tip of Finland. In 1840, a wooden lighthouse was built here to help keep shipping in the northern Baltic Sea from running aground. In 1859, the wooden lighthouse was rebuilt into a masonry lighthouse which stood until it was bombed to oblivion by the [...]

Genius Innovators

Fair Lane: A House And A Personal Power Plant


If you read cruisintime‘s comment yesterday, you’ll know what this is. If not, let me explain. That’s a power plant. It is on Henry Ford’s Fair Lane estate in Dearborn, MI. When you’re an industrial giant and Thomas Edison is your BFF, you can build your own power plant just for you (and a little bit for the surrounding town).

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Genius Innovators

Vulcan Street Power Plant: A Power Plant In A Shed


Back in 1882, in those nascent years of the light bulb, getting electricity generated became kind of a big deal. In Appleton, WI, it would lead to the first Edison hydroelectric power plant producing a whopping 12.5 kW.

Continue reading Vulcan Street Power Plant: A Power Plant In A Shed

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Making Snow

With the exception of The People’s Republic of Canada, much of North America is experiencing a very warm season we generally refer to as “summer”. It’s usually about this time of year that I start hearing people whine about wanting winter back even though they will be the first to whine about how [...]

Genius Innovators

The Other Tucker


The film about Mr. Preston Tucker always intrigued me as a kid.  Perhaps it speaks to the quality raising that I got that it was a movie we owned and watched frequently, but even today when I think of Tuckers I think about that stylized version of his life, and how The Man kept trying to keep him down.  One thing from the movie that I thought was awesome was the armored car he develops first, which really has only a bit part in the movie.  I think, though, that I wanted one of those about as much as I wanted a Tucker car, because it was faster than anything else on the battlefield!  Too fast for the government to buy!  Nothing is cooler to a 10 year old, well, very little anyhow, than a fighting machine that doesn’t get built because it is too fast.

I recently came across the lead image you see on the Modern Mechanix website, and it jogged my memory on this machine, and I decided to find out more.  Hit the jump, and let’s discover the other Tucker!

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Genius Innovators

Moving Balls


How do you move a bunch of plastic balls from one place to another? Build a 17-module LEGO Great Ball Contraption, of course! Hit the jump for the mesmerizing video.

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Obviously, the next major progression in the advancement of film is adding sound — music and conversation — to make the film experience more like the world we actually live in. Interestingly, this had actually been done near the very beginning of the silent movie era.

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Scopes and a Trope


If the magic lantern and Phantasmagoria were the grandfather of film, it’s mother was a busy woman. Throughout the late 1800s, a flurry of activity took place around making moving pictures. The first systems, like the phenakistoscope (shown above) and zoetrope placed a sequence of images between slits. The viewer would spin the disc or wheel and look through the slits. This would break up the view so that the image appeared to move. These actually go back to the BC days. In 1877, a similar system was coupled with a magic lantern to project the image onto a screen or wall. Now an entire audience could get dizzy. About the same time, film sensitivities improved and the Lumiere Brothers invented the dry plate process. Now film was getting to a point where actual moving images could be captured.

Continue reading Scopes and a Trope