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The Solar Furnace

Scroll down for today's pictures & links.

The Solar Furnace

A piece of steel being melted by the Sun - and episode from James May's "Big Ideas":


The power of the Solar Furnace was discussed as far back as 1931, as in this article from Modern Mechanics:

(image credit: ModernMechanix)

Today's pictures & links:

Abarth Cisitalia 207, 1955

"A Boano Spider" version, more images here.

(image credit: hotwheels)


Big Hole

The Big Hole is an open-pit mine in Kimberley, South Africa. It's the second largest hole excavated by hand. The largest is an abandoned Jagersfontein mine.

(image credit: Rudolph Botha)

Almost 500 meters wide, excavated to a depth of 240 meters...


War Cart

An image from (quite controversial) document: "How to Hack the Boston Subway"


Consider it an urban art, not a real thing. Leave Boston subway alone.


Strong Wind?

(original unknown)


The Best and Worst Historic Places

The annual survey "Historic Places Rated" by National Geographic Traveler magazine is combined with the info from the NatGeo Center for Sustainable Destinations (evaluating destinations based on how well these places take care of their natural and cultural resources). Among the top such places that you should check out:

Wachau/Melk Abbey, Austria and Ghent, Belgium:

(photos by Sisse Brimberg and Cottoln Coulson/Keenpress and Joe Patronite/NGS)

The worst historic place? Central City, Colorado - The 19th-century mining boomtown had lost its character and culture "amid the noise of slot machines."

(photo by Rex A. Stucky/NGS)

See the whole Historic Destinations list here.


Mixed fresh links for today:

Truly unimaginable times for auto industry - [crisis]
One of the best graffiti collections in months - [urban art]
Architectural Optical Illusions and Distortions - [weird]
Periodic Table of Elements (Artistic Version) - [cool art]
Tiny Biology-based Computers - [wow tech]
Interactive Touch Sensitive Mirror - [gadgets]
How many of them were in this van? - [fun video]
These bears want to get your attention - [fun video]
When Robot Programmers Get Bored - [wow video]
A community for financial news, ideas, and tips - [promotion]


Yet another scary clown

This is in the same vein as all these Cold War-inspired creepy images of people in the gas masks - see our series Part 1, 2 and 3.

Art by Maleonn, see more here


Wondering about computer technology that brought us to the Moon?

Here is an example - the first e-book reader!

Image via


Cute Accessories

Rings - by Kim Venezia and Michael Arad of Shibuichi Studios:

Variations on USB theme: - via


Great Vintage Gadgets

Portable radio with LP player:

(image credit: Al Q)

Very stylish TV: Dianne Daniggelis (Miss Illinois of 1955) displays the new concept of portable televisions - Zenith:

(photo by Bettmann/CORBIS, via)


Star Wars Fire Hydrant

(photo sent in by Alex Dreher, Teneriffe)


Neat Convertible Buses

Made by the "Icarus Company", Hungary:


Smile! or... I have a tool for you


So, you were saying?

(original unknown)


St. Petersburg Ski Tours:

When the romantic promise "I'll do anything for you" achieves a whole new meaning.


Permanent Link......+StumbleUpon ...+Facebook


Futuristic Concept Cars of the 1970-80s

French, Italian & Japanese rare beauties

DRB Feel-Good
DRB Feel-Good Issue #29

Loads of cool and rare imagery

Epic 1970s French Space Comic Art

DRB Time-Slice: Valérian and Laureline

"Dark Roasted Blend" - All Kinds of Weird and Wonderful Things, Discovered Daily!"

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Anonymous Carlos Portugal said...

About the Solar Furnace, the first one in the Modern Age was set operating in Lisbon, Portugal, in that distant year of 1904. The inventor was a jesuit priest, Father Manuel Gomes Himalaya and the demonstration was in the presence of the King of Portugal. The invention, called «Pyrheliophero» (literally «solar fire furnace») was later presented in the United States, at the Universal Exibition of St. Louis in 1904. There, it received the Grand Prix.

The enourmous machine was capable of fusing steel and stone at a staggering 3500ºC.

After the Exibition, it was destroyed in a misterious warehouse fire, still in St. Louis.

Returning to Portugal, Father Himalaya received support from the King, but short afterwards - in 1908 - the King and his Heir were assassinated and everithing went down the drain with the following (1910) republican revolution.

Blogger Skipweasel said...

The artistic Periodic Table...

While it’s a fun idea and some of the artwork is very good, it really does show the difference between (the bulk of) artists and scientists.
Take, for example, the text that goes with caesium.

[caesium]…can be produced solely by nuclear reactions.

Not true, it’s a naturally occuring element, though there’s noticeable amounts of radioactive caesium in the environment that /has/ come from man made nuclear sources.

[caesium]…is strong enough to etch glass, flesh and bone.

No, its hydroxide is.

…it is one of the most biologically hazardous components of radioactive waste and nuclear fallout,

No, it’s not as readily absorbed as many other radiopollutants.

Really, I despair of the standard of scientific education that leads to someone being unable to glean even basic information about something without reading some sentences out of context and getting the wrong end of the stick.

Blogger Skipweasel said...

Lavoisier used a solar furnace in the 1770s to burn a diamond so he could prove it was made of carbon.

Anonymous Carlos Portugal said...

Quite right, Skipweasle. But I mentioned the priest's furnace because it was the first to produce temperatures in excess of 3000ºC, which are similar, although far superior to those produced by the modern contraption depicted in the movie.

Lavoisier's furnace was unable to produce temperatures higher than 1800ºC - which is remarkable in 1770 - and was a relatively small furnace, compared to the gigantic Pyrheliophoro, capable of melting a huge block of basalt.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the picture of the bent propeller ...

It is an actual photo. Most cameras with a slit shutter or a two curtain shutter as in SLR cameras will show this effect.

The exposure of the photo begins at the top and the shutter moves down in the shape of a small horizontal slit whose width is dependent on the exposure time. The propeller turns during this time. Therefore the propeller will look bent, because the blades will move and change position during the exposure of each fractional part of the whole image.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Great info on solar furnace, and this "bent propeller" bit was unexpected... Thank you.

Anonymous Guy King said...

Solar furnaces have been around long before the 1930s - in the 1770s
Lavoisier used one to burn a diamond to prove it was made of carbon.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I despair of (sic) the English writing skills of people who post comments on blogs…

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vá lá!...Dêem um desconto a quem não tem o inglês como sendo a sua língua nativa. Ou acham preferível todos nós começarmos a escrever posts em 'estrangeiro'?


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