Sure, you can buy a flying car from Hammacher Schlemmer. But for truly bizarre catalog collections, turn to America's laboratory supply companies. It's a fair bet your favorite holiday catalog will not include a small-animal guillotine, for instance.
Examining clever mechanisms often provides ideas and inspiration for our own designs. This week's mystery tool was in fact a look at a partially disassembled adding machine. Here's the rest of that dissection.
We decided to dissect a television for the edification of PopSci readers. Then we decided to do it in a slightly unconventional way. Check out the photo gallery for a glimpse of what happens when you blow up a television.
[Note: No dynamite was used in this Dynamite Dissection. Do not attempt to do anything like this on your own.]
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I keep at least one Variac around at all times as a prop, should a sci-fi / horror movie erupt without warning in my shop. The Variac, besides looking like an electronic torture device, is a specialized type of autotransformer. An automotive ignition coil, the part under your hood that generates the super high voltage needed to fire the spark in a spark plug, is another. I cut one in half with a bandsaw to see how it works.
You've almost certainly seen a pressure gauge somewhere: on an air compressor, a steam boiler or perhaps an automotive vacuum gauge. Have you thought much about how that gauge works? Magic? Elves? We'll rip one open to find out.
You remember calculus, right? In a time before mechanized computing was performed by computers, complex (or sometimes just clever) machines were used to automate calculations. One example that has always impressed and fascinated me is the wheel-and-disk integrator, a simple machine capable of solving the calculus equations you labored over in high school without breaking a sweat. While this concept was used most impressively in Vannevar Bush's differential analyzer, an analog computer built in 1931, the chances are good that you've seen one in a more mundane application around your house: the power meter. Click on the photo gallery to see inside one and how it works, and follow the jump for more in-depth electro-geekery.