In August, Elon Musk unveiled SpaceX’s much anticipated spacesuit design.
Pretty neat, huh? This suit, designed not to be used during spacewalks but while riding inside SpaceX’s Dragon capsule on the way to the International Space Station, is a pretty big departure from previous space suit designs. It doesn’t bulge or bag anywhere; its sleek, sexy even. This space suit shows that SpaceX wants you to think space travel is sexy.
SpaceX’s new design is game changing. For the first time, aesthetics are being held to the same importance as functionality. Some may say that how it looks isn’t important as long as it functions. I think having a good looking spacesuit is important to getting the public behind the idea of space travel and if it functions just as well as a traditional pressure suit then no harm done.
Here’s a short article on the SpaceX spacesuit if you want some more info!
Ryan Nagata is a Los Angeles artist known for making incredibly accurate replica space suits. He also dabble’s in the making of beautifully detailed 1950’s style ray guns.
This ray gun is based off of Weta workshop’s Righteous Bison from the world of Dr. Grordbort. Nagata was going for a World War I look and I think he certainly achieved it with the olive green paint job, wooden grips, and overall distressed look. I think this piece is gorgeous and is a great expression of retro-futurism.
This red ray gun was made with several found parts, including pieces from the plumbing aisle. This goes to show that with a little creativity, the hardware store can be a great source for material. In this picture I especially love the wisp of smoke coming out of the end of the gun.
This ray gun was made from a child’s bubble toy which can be seen from the bulging spheres in the main body. He’s added on several parts that he found at different stores in LA like a vacuum tube and crystal. I really like how the bulging of the main body is continued in the grip. Doesn’t seem like it’s the most comfortable to hold but it certainly looks great!
These ray guns were made as part of a Kickstarter project. They look like something that was actually mass produced. The subtle weathering against the yellow paint job looks fantastic.
This lovely blue Jetson’s-esque ray gun is Nagata’s favorite. In some ways it is simpler than the other ones yet it stands out above the crowd. To me, it almost looks like a 50’s hair dryer turned into a ray gun. The detail inside the clear portion is wonderful with all the vacuum tubes. This design is incredibly sleek, and the diagonal hand grip and fin on top really make your eyes move across the gun. All around this is a great piece!
If you want to hear more about the ray guns, check out this interview with Ryan Nagata done by Adam Savage!
On the Dutch shore, a new form of life has emerged. Enormous creatures, not made of flesh and bones but of yellow plastic tubing. They use large sails to harness the power of the wind and propel themselves across the beach on multiple legs. These animals are called strandbeests and are the work of Dutch artist Theo Jansen.
These kinetic sculptures consist of multiple legs to move, sails to catch the wind, and bottles to hold air. The more sophisticated machines can sense when they are near water and back away from it. One of the most impressive parts of the strandbeest is its legs which are designed to take rotational motion and turn it into a smooth walking motion. Jansen used a computer program to find the perfect ratio for each of the leg segments.
Theo Jansen has made several iterations of the strandbeest since he made his first one in the 1990s.
In 1943, Curt Herzstark was imprisoned in Buchenwald concentration camp by the Nazis. He had been working on a design for a mechanical calculator for years before the war and because of his skills he was assigned as a technician in the camp. He was told if he could finish his design for the calculator, it would be presented to Hitler and his life would be spared. This spurred him to finish designing the Curta Calculator, a palm-sized mechanical calculator, and when he was released at the war’s end he had the plans to put them into production.
The Curta Calculator is an incredibly powerful and compact calculator that can add, subtract, multiply, divide, find square and cube roots, find powers, use decimals, and more. Numbers are entered through switches on the side and with a crank on top. Numbers are cleared by lifting the upper portion and turning the reset crank. The procedures to do more advanced computations are very complex and require memorizing several steps.
To me, it seems like using the Curta is a very satisfying experience. The sound the Curta makes when the crank is turned is beautiful, the sound of cogs and gears meshing together. Flipping the switches and turning the dials gives you instant feedback as numbers appear. I think it really is incredible that such a complex piece of machinery is able to fit in your pocket.
Vcalc.net is a great place to find out more about the Curta, see pictures, patent diagrams, and even use an online curta simulator. Below I’ve put some links to some great videos demonstrating the Curta Calculator.