In which we discover an impossible material, the oldest zero in history, animations of engines, a video report of the Internet from 1981, and what is purported to be the best smartphone app ever.
I am embarrassed. I hang my head in humiliation. My friends are always sending me links to cool stuff on the Internet and I have a "Cool Stuff" folder on my computer where I squirrel everything away. The reason for my shame is that I keep on intending to share everything with you, but there never seems to be enough time.
So, rather than write a separate column about each item, I've decided to post a "Freaky Friday" blog at the end of each week gathering a few choice diversions together for your delectation and delight. This week's offerings are as follows:
No. 1: The best smartphone app ever? S.M.T.H (Send Me To Heaven) is a game that involves players throwing their smartphones as high in the air as they can. The phone records the height that it attained and the app uploads the data to a suite of World, Week, and Day "Top 10" leader boards on the web -- what could possibly go wrong? (Click here to see more.)
No. 2: The oldest zero in history? I love learning about the history of "stuff" in general, and I have a particular interest in the history of mathematics, so I was enticed when I saw an article titled "How I Rediscovered the Oldest Zero in History" by Amir Aczel. Sad to relate, I (along with many of the folks leaving comments to his article) don't agree with Amir's main proposition, but it's an interesting read nonetheless. (Click here to see more.)
No. 3: An "Impossible" Material. A new material called Upsalite, which has to be one of the happiest-sounding names for any material, and which has some truly strange properties, has been created in a Swedish laboratory. (Click here to see more.)
No. 4: Animated engines. The mention of the "507 Mechanical Movements" book in my recent column Are We Losing the Secrets of the Masters? prompted one of my friends to point me to a website featuring animations of different engines. As my friend said in his email to me: "I am fascinated by the ingenuity of some of these designs -- especially the one in which the engine rotates around a stationary shaft." (Click here to see more.)
No. 5: The future is now! I just saw a video of a news report from 1981 about the Internet -- in particular about delivering newspapers and magazines online. It's amazing how dated this all looks and how laughable some of the comments now seem, such as: The $5 cost for an hour on the phone "won't be much competition for the 20 cent street edition." (Click here to see more.)
If you know of any interesting sites you'd care to share, please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for possible inclusion in a future "Freaky Friday" column.