Self Stirring Pot

This is a self stirring pot. Why this hasn’t been put to market sometime in the past few thousands of years full of around a billion people cooking things, I don’t understand. Every one of us should be embarrassed for not coming up with this ourselves. It was created by a dentist in Japan who no doubt got sick of his noodles sticking to the bottom of his pot. He calls it Kuru-Kuru Nabe, the round and round pot.

This might even have some interesting new cooking possibilities. I wonder if you cracked an egg in there if you might end up with a doughnut shaped egg? This kind of elegant use of thermodynamics has some intriguing possibilities in other fields as well.

Kinetic Sculpture Race 2012

It’s Kinetic time once again in Arcata California. It was an overcast morning in the end of May. Labor Day weekend. A cold breeze coming in off of the ocean didn’t phase the spectators, who were out in great numbers to see a race  that seemed a bit subdued compared to olden times. The things that impressed me this year were less in the spectacle of it all, and more in the smaller details.

Arcata kinetic 2012

These guys need a bigger dinosaur. It looks like an afterthought. Putting the driver in the back seat is nothing but awesome though.

Fltamo vultures

The above entry, inspired by roadkill and full of vulture pilots, is the work of Duane Flatmo. I don’t personally see his style shining through on this one, but it was my favorite among the larger entries.

Lost Coast Brewery kinetic 2012

Lost Coast Brewery sponsored this fire truck themed fire ant that shoots fire out its arse!

Sasquatch hunterKinetic bigfoot sculpture

Predicting the weather in Arcata is unreliable enough that I’m not sure why we employ meteorologists, but the gamble paid off for this crew. A sunny day racing in a wookie outfit would be hellish, but the icy weather made them look more sane than those in shorts. A tribute to the sasquatch or bigfoot which are rumored to inhabit local forests.

Kinetic Flintstones car

Flintsones car

The one and two seater contestants really made the race this year. I love this FlintStones inspired car. It seemed well engineered and convincing and they weren’t having any trouble getting around. I’m not sure how the steering works.

Kinetic crab scupture


This little crab was awesome. Both his arms and claws were fully functional and I have no doubt anything messing with him would have gotten a good pinching. His little eyestalks were on springs.

Hot Chicks in frying pan kinetic

This one ought to be fun in the bay. These two chicks in a frying pan had a jet of fire above their heads.

Dragon deer sculpture

It doesn’t look lime much in photo, but this one impressed me more than any of the others. I’m not sure what the creature on the front is. It is deer-like, but had something dragon-like about it as well. It had a strikingly complex seris of controls operated by the lone driver via several levers.

Kinetic FunGuyKinetic Gnome

Sometimes all it takes is someone going a small extra step in order to bring something from good to great. There were lots of people in mushroom suits racing around, but going with the full body suit with eyeholes makes this guy look like a viable super hero. The above gnome is best seen in motion, since he gets around by bouncing rather than pedaling. To see him and all the rest, check out Bob Doran’s video below of the first two laps around the plaza at the start of the race. In the coming days the race will go through the dunes, across the bay, and all the way down to Ferndale.

Carved Zucchini

zucchini carving halloween vegetable carving


I carved a zucchini for Halloween this year (click image to see full size). Going unconventional with my Jack o’ Lantern is typical for me, though I would usually carve a watermelon, but I couldn’t come up with anything that would top last years watermelon skull with brain, so I figured it was time on to move on to greener fruits…errr vegetables? Whatever they are. The zucchini alligator carving took a bit over an hour (it is all one piece, so carving away the area around the teeth took time). It’s almost two feet long.

I recommend the zucchini as a carving substrate. They don’t stink, they aren’t sticky or messy, and they have a ton of firm flesh and only a small center of seeds. They won’t handle a candle though, so use a LED or ultrasonic fog maker.

Ninja Turtle Nose

Ninja Turtle Nose Ron Paul

This is one of those ‘once seen, cannot be unseen’ kinda sites. Draw a ninja turtle nose on a picture and send it in. My submission above, freedom ninja Ron Paul. Check out the Teenage Mutant Ninja NosesTumblr here.


update: Well, it looks like the Ron Paul media blackout is moving to the internet as the picture was never posted on their site.

Reuleaux Triangle

Reuleaux Triangle

The Reuleaux Triangle, named after Franz Reuleaux, is this odd roundy triangle, which would hardly seem worth naming after someone, except for one unusual feature: However you turn it, one side is always the same distance from the opposite side. If you were to put a board on a couple of  Reuleaux Triangles, it would have a perfectly smooth ride rolling on them. So what you say? A circle does the same thing? You know how whatever shape drill you use, the holes always come out round? A Reuleaux drill can drill square holes. Not even Chuck Norris can do that.

There are three dimensional equivalents as well:

These shapes of constant width have other uses besides looking funny and drilling square holes. Any time you invent a different way for machines to translate one type of motion into another, you have great potential for new inventions. I suspect this one is under-utilized.

Camera Ball Omni-Directional Throwable Camera

Throwable Camera Ball

Throwable Cameras are an awesome concept, and this 3D printed ball with 36 cameras by Jonas Pfeil takes it to the next level. Just toss the ball in the air and when it reaches the vertex, all the cameras take a picture. The result is a stitched together panoramic image with a full 360° unobstructed view. I can think of all sorts of variations of this that could be useful, from adding infrared and using it for military and police actions, to using a launcher to get a shot of the whole neighborhood, to doubling the cameras for 3D shots. Video Below

The camera isn’t yet on the market, but I’m sure the first question they are going to get from the masses will be: Can I get it in purple?

SteamPunk Guns

SteamPunk Gun - Nerf

SteamPunk guns aren’t just something to hang over your mantle for decoration. The weapon pictured above is a fully functional Nerf gun created by Etsy seller faustus70. Alas, it is already sold, but there is really nothing stopping you from making your own customized SteamPunk gear out of some beloved item and stuff you have lying around the garage. Faustus70 made his gun out of planks from an old chair and hand cut aluminum strapping. A bit of sanding, painting, and artificial weathering, and a masterpiece is born.

My only criticism of the piece is that I think rivets would normally be centered on the planks, rather than between them. It’s important to get these things right, because hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.

This one may be gone, but last I checked, he still makes such things and sells them at quite a reasonable price at his Etsy store here.

Robotic Bull for the Military

War is about to change in a way not seen since the invention of the missile. DARPA (the defense Department’s advanced research wing) is showing off a scaled up version of Big Dog they are calling Alpha Dog, or Bull Dog. It resembles an actual bull more than any kind of dog, which reminds me of a recent story on adaptive camouflage in which researchers were attaching panels to mask most the infrared signature of tanks, and could project what would look like a walking cow onto the siede of the tank to further remove suspicion. In the case of Alpha dog, rather than projecting the cow on the tank, they seem to be putting the tank in the cow.

More interesting though, is what this says about the ever present arms race. The United States has been the dominant military power in the world, but has had troubles of late with small decentralized terrorist groups. Imagine if they were to convert an auto manufacturer to pump out tens of thousands of weaponized robotic mountain goats. It sounds a bit far fetched, but I don’t see what is stopping them really. Just with the tech they have shown the public, they already show themselves to have the tech not only to do this, but also to make them mostly autonomous. The toughest part at this point might just be giving them a power source that wouldn’t give us problems if it were captured.

It makes sense that the U.S. has cut funding for some of its largest budgeted fighter jets and other new tech. The next war will be lost to the people with the best drone offense and laser defense. What chance does a fighter pilot have against a drone immune to G forces, or a ground based laser system that shreds it from miles away at the speed of light?

In related news, there have been reports that the U.S. drones have contracted some kind of computer virus.