The hidden beauty of Berlin's indoor pools
The German capital is dotted with more than 60 public indoor swimming pools, and many of them are so stunning and tranquil they feel like you’re swimming in an ornate library.
Her Packard Is a Work of Art That’s Hard to Park
Linda Velasco’s larger-than-life 1934 Packard evokes classic Hollywood; ‘It is almost like Errol Flynn is with you in the passenger seat’
See Inside a Ghost Town of Abandoned Mansions in China
The State Guest Mansions were envisioned as the palatial homes for the upper crust of society. Now, their only residents are hurdles of cattle and the occasional adventure explorers meandering like ghosts around the arched verandas and stone façades of hundreds of abandoned villas. Located around the hills of Shenyang (about 400 miles northeast of Beijing), the development was originally planned by Greenland Group, a Shanghai-based real estate developer, and broke ground in 2010. But as AFP reports, within two years the project had come to grinding halt, leaving the half-formed skeletons of imitative royalty in its wake. Today the crumbling estates are still abandoned, left in an eerie series of rows appearing like an architectural cornfield.
Inside the amazingly mechanical Bendix Central Air Data Computer
Determining the airspeed and altitude of a fighter plane is harder than you’d expect. At slower speeds, pressure measurements can give the altitude, air speed, and other “air data”. But as planes approach the speed of sound, complicated equations are needed to accurately compute these values. The Bendix Central Air Data Computer (CADC) solved this problem for military planes such as the F-101 and the F-111 fighters, and the B-58 bomber. This electromechanical marvel was crammed full of 1955 technology: gears, cams, synchros, and magnetic amplifiers. In this blog post I look inside the CADC, describe the calculations it performed, and explain how it performed these calculations mechanically.
Art Deco skyscrapers were America's greatest contribution to the world of architecture
If You Ask Your Friend to Take Your Photo Using Your Camera, Who Owns the Copyright?–Shah v. NYP
Still, its implications are wide-ranging. The court is basically saying that whoever presses the camera button owns the copyright, even if the button-pusher doesn’t own the equipment, the camera settings are provided to them, and they get some verbal direction from the camera owner/photo subject about when, where, and how to take the photo. Due to that conclusion, Shah does not own the copyrights to the photos on his phone and he can’t register the copyrights or enforce them.
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s “Tron”
I was recently shown some frames from a film that I had never heard of: Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1976 version of “Tron.” The sets were incredible. The actors, unfamiliar to me, looked fantastic in their roles. The costumes and lighting worked together perfectly. The images glowed with an extravagant and psychedelic sensibility that felt distinctly Jodorowskian.
The truth is that these weren’t stills from a long-lost movie. They weren’t photos at all. These evocative, well-composed and tonally immaculate images were generated in seconds with the magic of artificial intelligence.
The “interactive” elements are annoying, but some pretty pictures here.
Washington is a city of great bridges and terrible bridges. These are their stories.
Modern Retro Computer Terminals
The goal for this project is to design, 3D-print and assemble the enclosures for several small desktop computers.
Photos of birds.
Inside the 8086 processor, tiny charge pumps create a negative voltage
You might wonder how a charge pump can turn a positive voltage into a negative voltage. The trick is a “flying” capacitor, as shown below. On the left, the capacitor is charged to 5 volts. Now, disconnect the capacitor and connect the positive side to ground. The capacitor still has its 5-volt charge, so now the low side must be at -5 volts. By rapidly switching the capacitor between the two states, the charge pump produces a negative voltage.
Inside Nithurst Farm — an architect’s sci-fi dream
As you approach Nithurst Farm, architect Adam Richards’ new house, the sheep look up suspiciously from their grazing. You feel like an intruder. Sitting in the middle of the undulating Sussex countryside, the house looks more like a piece of railway viaduct or a bit of agricultural or industrial infrastructure left over from some obscure purpose than a conventional dwelling. It might even be a ruin, the stray remains of a Roman villa.
Die shrink: How Intel scaled down the 8086 processor
The revolutionary Intel 8086 microprocessor was introduced 42 years ago this month so I’ve been studying its die. I came across two 8086 dies with different sizes, which reveal details of how a die shrink works. The concept of a die shrink is that as technology improved, a manufacturer could shrink the silicon die, reducing costs and improving performance. But there’s more to it than simply scaling down the whole die. Although the internal circuitry can be directly scaled down, external-facing features can’t shrink as easily. For instance, the bonding pads need a minimum size so wires can be attached, and the power-distribution traces must be large enough for the current. The result is that Intel scaled the interior of the 8086 without change, but the circuitry and pads around the edge of the chip were redesigned.
How Giant Ships Are Built
Almost everything at this American shipyard exists at enormous scale. Vessels are constructed over years. Experience is developed over decades. The work is so spread out across the yard and over time that, to the untrained eye, it can be difficult to tell what is being hammered, wired or welded — and whether it’s right-side up or upside down.
When finished, more than a hundred pieces are fused into a hulking mass of metal that will be set afloat to connect an ever-shrinking world.
Pictures from inside the German intelligence agency BND
The German foreign intelligence service Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) is moving to a brand new headquarters in Berlin. Here we show some unique pictures from inside the former headquarters in the village of Pullach and also give an impression of what the new building looks like.
Extracting ROM constants from the 8087 math coprocessor's die
I opened up an 8087 chip and took photos with a microscope. The photo below shows the chip’s tiny silicon die. Around the edges of the chip, tiny bond wires connect the chip to the 40 external pins. The labels show the main functional blocks, based on my reverse engineering. By examining the chip closely, various constants can be read out of the chip’s ROM, numbers such as pi that the chip uses in its calculations.
A Codebreaker's Dream: The Bombe!
What is this, sporting dozens of colorful knobs, almost like a “turn-the-knob” toddler’s game at a playground in a nearest mall? This the awesome British Bombe electro-mechanical codebreaking machine which only had one purpose: to determine the rotor settings on the German cipher machine “ENIGMA” during WW2.
Animated optical illusions. These are very nice.
Tiny transformer inside: Decapping an isolated power transfer chip
I saw an ad for a tiny chip that provides 5 volts of isolated power: You feed 5 volts in one side, and get 5 volts out the other side. What makes this remarkable is that the two sides can have up to 5000 volts between them. This chip contains a DC-DC converter and a tiny isolation transformer so there’s no direct electrical connection from one side to the other. I was amazed that they could fit all this into a package smaller than your fingernail, so I decided to take a look inside.