Giant machines: a robot that parses iPhones and city cleaner

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They carry court, cool of the launch site and purify the air in Metropolitan areas

Thanks to aggressive advertising and marketing above what we perceive as a miracle of technology any new smartphones or cars. Obvious and significant example is the fuss raised before they go on sale next generation iPhone, or the praise of electric vehicles from the ubiquitous Elon musk. Well, more private space mission can sometimes be of interest to the masses. But really, in the world of technology is constantly appears something new — to conduct unique research, solve non-standard tasks in the sphere of transport and industry create the device, unusual in appearance, size, or capabilities. Moreover, these objects are unjustly deprived of the attention and admiration of the public.

However, their designers are not always guided by purely practical considerations. Sometimes these miracle machines are sophisticated puzzles and created for the satisfaction of curiosity, test new technologies, or simply — your own knowledge and skill.


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IOP/SS: superfanta at the spaceport

When you launch off a huge rocket, its engines spewing out to the launch pad and the equipment roaring hurricane of hot gases. To counter firestorm, at the beginning of the work of engines on the launch pad sprayed huge amounts of water. The liquid is distributed in the air, absorbs the excess heat and dampens noise.

During the creation of the space complex Space Launch System (SLS) Space center. Kennedy in December 2017 has been tested the protection system of the launch pad IOP/SS.
One of the side results of testing this monster of kilometers of pipelines, hundreds of valves and dozens of pumps creating the world’s most powerful fountain. The maximum height of a water column made up 30 m. in fact, it is a modest figure: the fountain of king Fahd (Saudi Arabia) shoots water to a height of 312 m. But IOP/SS for seconds threw 1.7 million liters of water! For comparison: the famous musical fountain in Dubai throws “only” 83 thousand liters of water per second.

Photo: NASA

Daisy: parser iPhones

To dispose of millions of old iPhones, Apple has created a specialized robot Daisy, although he’s more similar to an Assembly line. Daisy works at a speed of 200 phones per hour, and knows the device 9 iPhone models. Particularly valuable items are retrieved from the devices intact, and have been used repeatedly. The rest goes to recover valuable metals. Alas, the robot exists in a single copy, because the lion’s share of iPhones, as before, is on the dump.

Guts 200 smartphones per hour

lCLS: ultrafast laser maker

Boil some water for tea is no problem in the kettle. However, this approach is too simple for physicists studying plasma. They decided to heat the water with a huge and fabulously expensive scientific setting — one of the most powerful x-ray laser LCLS (Stanford University, USA). The length of this masterpiece of modern equipment exceeds 3 km, and Its creation cost a huge sum, and the recent modifications would require “only” $1 billion.

Ultrashort x-ray pulses generated by the LCLS laser, pointed at a trickle of water. The process of heating from normal temperature to 100 000 °C occurred almost immediately (tenth of a picosecond).

The water went from a liquid phase into a plasma state — a sort of gas composed of free electrons and ions. In this state water can exist except in the depths of planets like Jupiter.

Stanford. The world’s most powerful x-ray laser allowed us to make many discoveries. Photo: SLAC Portal

The length of the LCLS reaches 3 km. Photo: SLAC Portal

10 000 Year Clock: timeless watches

There is no single mechanism that worked without human intervention at least one century.

But the American inventor, Daniel Hillis in 1989 proposed the concept of hours, the mechanism of which will be able to work 10 thousand years.

The idea may be, would have remained unknown and it would be forgotten if not for the intervention of the famous entrepreneur Jeff Bezos. The businessman undertook to Finance the project. Work began in 2009


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The use of any electronics in a watch excluded: it will last a long time. Parts are made of stainless steel and all connecting parts are made of ceramics. Source of energy will serve as daily temperature fluctuations of the ambient temperature. Tested performed at noon by the position of the Sun. The wonder clock will “tick” only once a year.

“Embodying the project, I want to show that we not only short-term technological wonders — explains Bezos. — We can create something which is comparable with the lifetime of human civilization”.

Installation. A large part of the mechanism will be located beneath the spine of the Sierra Diablo (USA)

Lift-Hercules: a monster from the “Three gorges”

Hydroelectric power station “Three gorges” of the Yangtze river is the largest not only in China but also on the planet. Classic locking process of vessels here takes 3 hours to cut the time down to 40 min., in the design of the dam was included, a huge lift for lifting small vessels — the largest on earth. His “cabin” — a pool of water with a length 120 and a width of 18 m. the Maximum weight that can lift the mechanism of this strong man, to 15.5 thousand tons.

Of the Yangtze. HPP Three gorges — the biggest in China and in the world

Lift. 40 minutes will take over the dam a small ship

Puzzle of the XXI century: surkovic Rubik

Designer grégoire Pfennig has created the most complex to date, the Rubik’s cube. Even the classic puzzle 3x3x3 is a hard challenge for a beginner. What to say about finding a solution for the puzzle size 33х33х33? But we’re not talking about folding up the cube, but its design and implementation in material.

“In the normal puzzle the number of combinations for the solution is equal to 43×1018. In my cube the number of combinations reaches 1159×104094,” — says the inventor.

In the course of work had to change the proportions of the components. After all, if you build a cube with the classical dimensions of the element that the monster 33х33х33 and lift will be difficult. Not to mention, to pull off. The size of the “cube Pfennig” anyway comparable to a medium size chess Board.

The internal structure of this thing consists of 17 layers, each of them moves with respect to the other. The cube contains 6153 details, they are all made using a 3D printer. The eccentric Pfennig and his comrades took 200 hours to assemble all the components of the cube together, and still the same — to paste colored stickers on all parties of each of them.

Test. Superkubok well demonstrates the capabilities of 3D printing

China: hundred-meter concrete cleaner

For most industrial regions of China the air pollution problem is becoming more acute. A particularly alarming situation where energy is generated mostly from burning coal.

In XI’an (Shaanxi province) built an impressive air cleaner. It includes the greenhouse under the glass surrounding the base of the concrete pipe with a height of 100 m. the Dirty air that enters the greenhouse is heated by sunlight and runs into the pipe, where it passes through the filters. The system has shown its effectiveness in adjacent blocks the air soon became a cleaner to 15%. Superpulse for their work does not require energy from external sources. But this setup is only a prototype for a new air purifiers. Full-size design for the most contaminated areas includes a pipe with a height of 500 m and greenhouses on the area of 30 sq. km.

Xian. Air cleaner for a 15% reduction in air pollution in the adjacent quarter of

In the tower-the air intake