Norilsk: Otherworldly photos of an Arctic city
> In our latest Through the Lens, Russian photographer Elena Chernyshova explores what it’s like to live in a city 400km north of the Arctic Circle.
A visit to the Large Scale Systems Museum
> I didn’t expect to find two floors filled with vintage computers in a sleepy town outside Pittsburgh. But that’s the location of the Large Scale System Museum, housed in an abandoned department store. The ground floor of this private collection concentrates on mainframes and minicomputers from the 1970s to 1990s featuring IBM, Cray, and DEC systems, along with less common computers. Amazingly, most of these vintage systems are working. Upstairs, the museum is filled with vintage home computers from the pre-PC era.
Where Theory Meets Chalk, Dust Flies
> A photo survey of the blackboards of mathematicians.
> For the last year, Jessica Wynne, a photographer and professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, has been photographing mathematicians’ blackboards, finding art in the swirling gangs of symbols sketched in the heat of imagination, argument and speculation. “Do Not Erase,” a collection of these images, will be published by Princeton University Press in the fall of 2020.
Reverse-engineering precision op amps from a 1969 analog computer
> We are restoring a vintage1 computer that CuriousMarc recently obtained. Analog computers were formerly popular for fast scientific computation, but pretty much died out in the 1970s. They are interesting, though, as a completely different computing paradigm from digital computers. In this blog post, I’m going to focus on the op amps used in Marc’s analog computer, a Simulators Inc. model 240.
> An analog computer performs computations using physical, continuously changeable values such as voltages. This is in contrast to a digital computer that uses discrete binary values. Analog computers have a long history including gear mechanisms, slide rules, wheel-and-disk integrators, tide computers, and mechanical gun targeting systems. The “classic” analog computers of the 1950s and 1960s, however, used op amps and integrators to solve differential equations. They were typically programmed by plugging cables into a patch panel, yielding a spaghetti-like tangle of wires.
Plus some good references to more about analog computers.
Ken Thompson did some of his early programming on an early analog computer, although I’m unsure of which model.
Where oil rigs go to die
> When a drilling platform is scheduled for destruction, it must go on a thousand-mile final journey to the breaker’s yard. As one rig proved when it crashed on to the rocks of a remote Scottish island, this is always a risky business
iphone 11 pro camera review
The NSA's regional Cryptologic Centers
> For many years, the US National Security Agency (NSA) was identified with its almost iconic dark-glass cube-shaped headquarters building at Fort Meade in Maryland. Only when Edward Snowden stepped forward in 2013, the public learned that there’s also a large NSA facility in Hawaii - which is actually one of four regional centers spread across the United States.
“Building Meaningfully”: Burroughs Wellcome Corporate Headquarters, 1972
> In 1969, pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome commissioned renowned modernist architect Paul Rudolph to design its new corporate headquarters and research facility in Durham, North Carolina. The result was a visionary modular complex whose geometries created a futuristic melding of spaces and forms.
Living with a starchitect’s early work
> Young, ambitious architects are known for cost overruns, impractical layouts — and the occasional work of genius
A catalog of complaints, and some advice:
> Le Corbusier, never the most self-deprecating of architects, returned to the site and, looking around, is reported to have said: “You know, it is always life that is right and the architect who is wrong.” That was not an admission of error: Le Corbusier meant that his designs were able to accommodate change.
Abstract Aerial Art
> Taken from a top-down perspective, every aerial photograph we take is of a real place on our planet. We like to compose our images as artworks rather than traditional photographs. Other than slight colour and contrast enhancements none of our images are manipulated in any way. As we always say, “the point is not to work out what it is, but to show how weird and wonderful the world can look from above”.
Prints for sale, but free to look.
The Marvelous Mississippi River Meander Maps
> Fisk’s maps represent the memory of a mighty river, with thousands of years of course changes compressed into a single image by a clever mapmaker with an artistic eye. Looking at them, you’re invited to imagine the Mississippi as it was during the European exploration of the Americas in the 1500s, during the Cahokia civilization in the 1200s (when this city’s population matched London’s), when the first humans came upon the river more than 12,000 years ago, and even back to before humans, when mammoths, camels, dire wolves, and giant beavers roamed the land and gazed upon the river.
Sex and Psychological Operations
> Warning! These historical wartime images are sexually explicit.
> Would it surprise you to know that all the major combatants involved in World War II used pornography as part of their psychological operations (PSYOP) strategy?
1838-2019: Street Photography - A Photo For Every Year
Photo slideshow. 20 minutes.
Mirrored Ceilings and Criss-Crossed Stairwells Give a Chinese Bookstore the Feeling of an M.C. Escher Woodcut
> Zhongshuge bookstores, designed by Shangai-based architecture firm X+Living, feature incredible rooms coveted by book and illusion lovers alike. Each location in this chain of Chinese bookstores has uniquely designed spaces with reflective elements that immerse guests in parallel environments. In the Chongqing branch, criss-crossing staircases and a mirrored ceiling double the room for an effect that seems straight out of an M.C. Escher woodcut or an infinite Indian stepwell.
Iconic consoles of the IBM System/360 mainframes, 55 years old
> The IBM System/360 was a groundbreaking family of mainframe computers announced on April 7, 1964. Designing the System/360 was an extremely risky “bet-the-company” project for IBM, costing over $5 billion. Although the project ran into severe problems, especially with the software, it was a huge success, one of the top three business accomplishments of all time. System/360 set the direction of the computer industry for decades and popularized features such as the byte, 32-bit words, microcode, and standardized interfaces. The S/360 architecture was so successful that it is still supported by IBM’s latest z/Architecture mainframes, 55 years later.
> The lower part of the Model 30 console was used for operator intervention. Note the binary-to-hexadecimal conversion chart below the hexadecimal dials.
While we’re looking: http://www.righto.com/2019/04/a-look-at-ibm-s360-core-memory-in-1960s.html
The Bell Labs Holmdel Complex
> The Bell Labs Holmdel Complex in Holmdel, New Jersey was created as a new research and development facility for Bell Telephone when they decided to move operations out of Manhattan. Constructed between 1959 and 1962, it was the swan song of architect Eero Saarinen, who also designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Center. Saarinen died a year before Holmdel was completed and six years before the six story complex would be named Laboratory of the Year by R&D Magazine. The outside curtain wall of mirrored glass that allowed in 25 percent of the sun’s light while blocking 70 percent of its heat led to the Holmdel Complex being christened “The Biggest Mirror Ever” by Architectural Forum, and the complex was used in universities as example of one of the crowning achievements of the modernist architectural style.
> Architect Alexander Gorlin allowed me to photograph Bell Labs shortly before the renovation began. Much of the interior had been stripped to the basic elements and the plants in the atrium were gone, but the architecture was still mesmerizing. I had visited the building when it was open many years ago but it was unfamiliar to me now. Many of the rooms were entirely anonymous after everything in them had been removed.
Cat ladders: a creative solution for felines in flats
> Strategically placed ramps and ladders for urban cats are all the rage in Bern. Brigitte Schuster’s photo book Swiss Cat Ladders documents the phenomenon
Building a 10BASE5 “Thick Ethernet” network
> Fast forward to 2012, and 10BASE5 is now truly a vintage technology. Anyone studying something I.T. related likely will at some point have been told about this stuff, because it’s very important in the history of computing. This was the first standardised, commercially used form of Ethernet, and today, almost the entire Internet is Ethernet, but heck, who’s ever actually seen a working 10BASE5 setup? Not me, that’s for sure, nor or anyone I’ve ever met.
> So… can I build a working setup in 2012? Read on…
> For someone like me who hadn’t encountered it before, no amount of looking at pictures could prepare for how big this stuff is. Short of high power transmission cables, it’s the largest coaxial cable I’ve ever seen. It is also very heavy, rigid and the bend radius is absurdly large.
The Anthropocene Project
> The Anthropocene Project is a multidisciplinary body of work from world-renowned collaborators Nicholas de Pencier, Edward Burtynsky and Jennifer Baichwal. Combining art, film, virtual reality, augmented reality, and scientific research, the project investigates human influence on the state, dynamic and future of the Earth.
> This photo essay bears witness to a critical moment in geological history, showing the breadth of impact that our human systems and technologies have imposed onto natural landscapes.
Inside the Apollo Guidance Computer's core memory
> The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) provided guidance, navigation and control onboard the Apollo flights to the Moon. This historic computer was one of the first to use integrated circuits, containing just two types of ICs: a 3-input NOR gate for the logic circuitry and a sense amplifier IC for the memory. It also used numerous analog circuits built from discrete components using unusual cordwood construction.
Also core rope: http://www.righto.com/2019/07/software-woven-into-wire-core-rope-and.html
> Erasable core memory and core rope both used magnetic cores, small magnetizable rings. But while erasable core memory used one core for each bit, core rope stored an incredible 192 bits per core, achieving much higher density.2 The trick was to put many wires through each core (as shown above), hardwiring the data: a 1 bit was stored by threading a wire through a core, while the wire bypassed the core for a 0 bit. Thus, once a core rope was carefully manufactured, using a half-mile of wire, data was permanently stored in the core rope.
Also, Bitcoin: http://www.righto.com/2019/07/bitcoin-mining-on-apollo-guidance.html
Also, NOR gates: http://www.righto.com/2019/09/a-computer-built-from-nor-gates-inside.html
> This historic computer was one of the first to use integrated circuits and its CPU was built entirely from NOR gates. In this blog post, I describe the architecture and circuitry of the CPU.