February 16, 2006
Streamlined Propeller Train
This is not another ho-hum japanese bullet train. This is the blow-your-socks-off Rail Zepplin (and, holy mother of tinsel... just look at it fly). It broke all known records in 1931 when it zipped along at 230 kph for approximately 20 kilometers, propelled only by its very large rear propeller. No other train came close until the 1950s.
The best part is, you can own one! Or just enjoy the above and below collection of rare and tinselicious photos.
February 03, 2006
Real Life Nemo
Okay. This is art. This is science. This is grace. This is blow your mind amazingness to the nth degree.
It's 1862 and a Spanaird named Narcis Monturiol has just built the world's first steam powered submarine. Out of olive trees. And a little copper. He has called this submarine... Ictineo II. Ictineo the great. Ictineo the elegant. In Barcelona, they claim that it is the world's first navigable submarine, and therefore the first true sub in the world. I'll buy that. Because it looks so cool. Inside and out.
Unfortunately, Monuriol's sub made precious little profit as a rescue vessel and was sold as scrap in 1868. (The photos here are of the life-size reconstruction which now rests in the harbor of Barcelona.)
Above photo by Daly and Daly (cc)
July 25, 2005
Subterranean Pneumatic Apparatus
"Certainly the most novel, if not the most successful, enterprise that New York has seen for many a day is the Pneumatic Tunnel under Broadway. A myth or humbug it has been called by everybody who has been excluded from its interior; but hereafter the incredulous public can have the opportunity of examining and judging its merits. Yesterday the tunnel was thrown open to the inspection of visitors for the first time, and it must be said that every one of them came away surprised and gratified. Such as expected a dismal and cavernous retreat under Broadway, opened their eyes at the elegant reception-room, the light, airy tunnel, and the general appearance of taste and comfort in all the apartments; and those who entered to pick out some scientific flaw in the project, were silenced by the completeness of the machinery, the solidity of the work, and the safety of the running apparatus..."
– The New York Times, at the opening of New York's Pneumatic Subway
February 26, 1870
It's almost hard to believe – and yet, it's so whimsically delightful – a subway car, sealed off in a big tube, propelled by nothing else but tons and tons (and tons) of air. One is simply blown to one's destination!
For more info, stop by Joseph Brennan's extraordinarily well-researched (and fun) website on the subject.
June 29, 2005
Imagine (if you can) flocks of these great artificial creatures roaming the beaches, leading their own lives. Now imagine that each of these beings is equipped with a small, but adequate, internal living space, for handy human transport. And their only source of power? The wind. This is the Anamaris Rhinoceros Transport and it is the vision of artist Theo Jansen, who's been at this for around ten years.
Will he accomplsh all his goals? I'm not sure it matters; his creation is already impressive enough... don't miss the video that shows the transport in motion.
Learn more about Jansen and the evolution of his wind-transport-beasts at Strandbeest. There are plenty of photos and videos on the site, including this one of Jansen pushing the Animaris Rhinoceros skeleton (which looks something like a giant spider).
(via: Cynical-C Blog)
June 24, 2005
The Intelligent Whale
Beware the vicious Intelligent Whale, a sleek marine-killer-machine of wood and metal. Construction on the Whale was completed in 1866, for use in the civil war, which unfortunately had just ended. The sub didn't work anyway; it failed all of its trials. To top it all off, the sub's jinxed owner was murdered just a few short years later by the jealous ex-lover of his mistress.
Interested in these things? Stop by the Nova's Submarine History website for a timeline of the great machines from 1580-present.
June 16, 2005
Enter the Monowheels
Step into the future... the amazing motorized-monowheel is finally here! Forget that all that complex steering wheel business; simply lean and turn. My favorite is the the R.I.O.T. Wheel, an odd looking vehicle that looks like it shouldn't be able to balance, but is actually in the running for fastest monowheel on the planet.
May 31, 2005
Airliner No. 4 and More
This spectacular flying-machine never flew. It's one of many fantastic aircrafts that never made it off the drawing board, much less the runway. The most grand of the bunch is probably Norman Bel Geddes' (designer of Futurama) steamship-sized Airliner Number Four. Geddes' multi-storied gargantuan of the skies could have comfortably held over 600 passengers in hotel-like suites. It was designed with a full dining-room, bar, games-deck, gymnasium, cafe, two large foyers, a nursery, dressing rooms, a shop, a doctor's office and much more. But alas, all that was just a dream. A figment. Lost... to the cramped, sardine-styled airplane-hell of today.
Stop by the Adventure Lounge to browse through many more planes that never flew (and some that probably did). Fun stuff. But my own favorite fantasy aircrafts are those that are born out of Hayao Miyazaki's fantastic world's.
UPDATE: Puny plane, the Airbus A380, completes test flight. It does manage to cram 840 passengers into a claustrophobic cylinder, but offers no private suites, no dining orchestra and no promenade deck. Bummer. (thanks RSJM).
UPDATE 2: What's this? First class suites in the A380 after all? We're impressed. (thanks again RSJM)