Esoteric Pictures: Photos of strange things and places.

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Sep '09

A Horse Powered, Historic Dredge

From the Library of Congress comes this curious contraption - apparently a crude dredge, invented in the late 1700s in America. The only information we have on this odd item is the description from the Library of Congress: “Print shows a man manipulating a large floating device with pulleys and a scoop attached, driven by horse-power, for dredging around docks and in rivers.”

You gotta love good ol’fashioned ingenuity, eh? A horse powered dredge! This was 300 years ago.

Apr '09

Photo of the All-too-oft-overlooked Trebuchet

The first instance of biological warfare is often erroneously cited as the use of blankets to infest the Pitt by Amherst around the Revolutionary War. In fact, Howard Zinn probably correctly states this as the first case of American biological warfare.

However, the trebuchet, long a staple of medieval warriors, used the flinging force of kinetic energy to throw a projectile over an opposing castle’s walls. It just so happens that trebuchets through dead bodies into the air as well. The bodies landed with great force inside of the castle walls, and the rest is history, as they say.

The trebuchet was so popular that it spread beyond the CHristian world, out into Muslim lands, first appearing during the 12th century — fortuitously towards the end of the Crusades.

Today, trebuchets are largely maligned, simply because people found gunpowder to be a much more affective way to kill people — God help us all. But the trebuchet still remains a staple of hobbyists and enthusiasts of medieval history. Let it live long and prosper.

Nov '08

Makeup Products that Replace Your Face?

Permanent makeup.

An especially amusing billboard coming from flickr, courtesy of kevinv033™, was found in Bristol, Pennsylvania. I’m almost tempted to call the number and ask for a new face.

The tagline “Wakeup with Makeup” isn’t exactly reassuring, but hey, I’m a guy. There is some truth in this billboard, though. According to NaturallyDahling, a site that sells gluten free makeup, some makeup contains scores of toxic ingredients that could wreak long-term havoc on your face. Talk about a new face!

Oct '08

Obama’s $3 Million Planetarium Projector

Three Million Dollar \'Projector\'

So it was highlighted in the second Presidential Debate - to much fanfare of Senator John McCain - but what does the earmarked $3 million (it actually was $2.5 million to be fair) planetarium projector really look? Well, this is no boring transparency slide lightbox.  It’s a carefully engineered piece of quality optics, calibration, and beautiful, nerdy spacegasm.

The Carl Zeiss Universarium Model IX was the much-mentioned 3.5 mil earmark - and, had it passed and the funds provided, it would have given Chicago quite a view of the night sky. Apparently Science and Technology is not high on the Republic earmark agenda - I guess bridges to nowhere and toxic trailers for Hurricane Katrina victims are, though.

Sep '08

Wall Street Winner - Claymore Up, Up, Up!

Look on the bright side. The economy ain’t so bad. There’s always a bull market somewhere!

Click on Image to See Larger Version.

Sep '08

Black Birds and Barbie

Yes, it’s real, and yes, those are giant crows flying around a Barbie. I’m not making this up.

Truth is, this Barbie is for Mattel’s Black Label line, and it’s actually available as a 45th anniversary celebration of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Toycite has the scoop.

Sep '08

The Rolling Bridge of London

And we thought the London bridges falling down was enough. Take a look at the rolling bridge! This London attraction crosses a small moat in Paddington Basin. The Bridge, which ingeniously curls into itself to move out of the way of oncoming boats, was designed by Thomas Heatherwick.

The Rolling Bridge 1

Aug '08

Image of the Obama Speech Wordcloud

Obama’s speech rivited the crowd at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, but what exactly did he say? Thanks to the latest in interwebz technology, you cans see exactly what was said in terms of proportion, thanks to this wordcloud of obama’s speech. Check it: Promise is a big word. Surprised? I know I’m not.

Aug '08

Mint Chocolate Chip… Cheese?

Yes, American boors - a mint-choclate-chip-cheese actually does exist. And - according to some reports coming from our allies in the east Atlantic, the mint-flavored cheese is actually appetizing, or at least edible. Don’t forget! It expires December 15th… SHITE!

Aug '08

One-Wheeled Motorcycle

So this one-wheeled motorcycle - yes, one actually exists - was invented by 18-year old science geek, Ben J. Poss Gulak. It weighs in at about 120 lbs but packs a big wallop. Though it was recently featured at the National Motorcycle show in Toronto this year - and it also operates on a complicated gyro-stabilization system, much like the Segway - the Uno is far from being widely available.

One nice thing: To go forward you just lean in!

Uno. The bike recently turned heads at the 2008 National Motorcycle Show in Toronto, probably because no one could actually figure out what the hell it was. Rather than the usual front and back wheel configuration, the Uno uses two, side-by-side wheels, rear footpegs and a much smaller chassis.

[via: Motorcycle Mojo Magazine]