Gadgets

Gadgets: Synthesising the sound of bananas

11.08.2019

Assumedly, the main purpose of a banana (cucumber, zucchini, etc) is to be relished at some stage. Yet, young American inventors Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum have contrived a new means of putting them to use: by eliciting from them authentic musical sounds, like for instance, those of a piano.

A dollop of wobbly jello does work as well and a great number of other materials also prove to be conductive: most fruits and vegetables, shrimp or pizza pie (although some may consider that a bit yucky). Plants will do fine and play-doh (given a certain degree of moisture) and metal objects such as foil, cutlery or pots. Even simple thick lines drawn on a smooth surface with a soft graphite pencil can do the trick – so can live people. What in God’s name are we talking about? A kit called MaKey MaKey.

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Reading time: about 2 minutes
Black-and-white: Astronauts resting during a training at the Askja Crater in Iceland.

Astronauts: Fly me to the Moon – but fly me to Iceland first

19.07.2019

The vast and diverse landscape of the United States of America is not only the stuff an authentic Hollywood backdrop is made of. In parts, it also offers the essentials a training ground for missions of national and international gravity requires: a moonlike scenery with lots of rubble bearing geological secrets to be lifted, in preparation for lunar missions by NASA, for instance.

Yet, when it comes to „moonlike“, no place on earth is more suitable to simulate an extraterrestrial situation better than Iceland can thanks to its volcanic origin. In 1965 and 1967, two groups of Apollo astronauts accompanied by geologists travelled to the destination for geological studies in preparation for their journey to the Moon. Among the 1967-group was Neil Armstrong, whose Apollo-11-mission was the component vital for the US Space Race to be won over the USSR. It made John F. Kennedy’s challenge, pronounced in 1961, come true: to “land a man on the Moon, and return him safely to the Earth”, before the end of the decade. On the 20th of July, 1969 at 20:17 UTC, Apollo 11 landed on the Moon and Neil Armstrong became the first human ever to leave his footprints on the powdery lunar surface.

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Reading time: about 4 minutes
Thank you, benefactors

Thank you, Benefactors

6.07.2019

Striking it rich only once in a life-time? Ha! Millions of dollars and euros are bestowed on me every single day by email! Just like that! By total strangers such as you. So, it’s about time for me to say thank-you. To you, „Dr. Tobruqui al Benghazi“, high ranking official of Libya (95 million USD), to „Pandle Swallow“, trusted attorney of the Ivory-Coast business mogul who perished together with his family in a fire disaster (50m), to „John Christopher“ from the US lottery (450,000m), to „Daniel Kroklokwafz“ and „Xin Pling Chi“ from Hong Kong (500,000m each), to Barrister „Franz Mlojeek“ for reminding me of 15m USD lying dormant at a Royal Bank somewhere, to „Dr. Giles Comtrade“ from the “World Bank” saying that my idling 1,8m USD are waiting to be claimed, and to „Garda Giardino“ for letting me know that “United Nations” grants me 500,000 USD, for what merit I’m not sure. I do deserve it, though. It’s absolutely impossible to give credit to the many hundreds of you who have made my well-being your creed. 

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A curled blurr of colours in blues and pinks

TED Talk: How to beat stage fright

27.06.2019

Phobias: A Plague or Mutations of the Basic Instinct?

Phobia is Greek and means to be afraid of something. In the non-Greek world, it is mainly used in psychological terms, signifying severe fear as in: terrified and: neurotic and: in need of professional treatment. Those in the grip of a veritable phobia are panic-stricken and paralyzed when it comes to tackling certain situations. Phobias are relics of our evolutionary past and were quite useful back then. Should a ferocious sabre-toothed tiger – teeth bared – spring up inadvertently from the undergrowth with an intimidating roar, the primitive brain would switch to red-alert and reliably signal to the short-legged homo erectus: RUN as fast as you can! It was a matter of survival, and the same basic instinct takes control over us in perilous situations until this day.

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The legendary Ju 52 is a flying treasure and a fine example of German aviation heritage.

Junkers Ju 52/D-AQUI: „Only Ju“

20.06.2019

When gifted inventor Hugo Junkers’s two companies (for engines and airplanes) were merged in Dessau in 1936, the first Ju model – the D-AQUI Fritz Simon – was just about ready for its maiden flight within the Lufthansa route service in April that year. Junkers stroke it lucky with his newly developed aircraft, which is said to have made him the most successful manufacturer of passenger planes worldwide, a happy circumstance to last for many years to come. As for D-AQUI – originally constructed as a water plane – constant changes of ownership in varying countries down to abandonment marked her turbulent path.

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Reading time: about 3 minutes