Mystery packages from the former USSR

posted in Photography by Cargo Cult on Monday June 25 2012

How to scare the postal operatives. Nuclear materials? Explosive devices? WHO KNOWS???? Wait. That looks familiar... I've got one like it already, but bent! LOMO BIOLAM microscope, now in focus!

eBay is brilliant for potentially terrifying US Postal Service operatives with dodgy-looking packages from Belarus. What's inside? Bit of Soviet-era optical equipment. Why did I need it? Well, some idiot (namely me) forgot to properly bolt his chunky old USSR-constructed LOMO microscope into its carrying case properly when emigrating to the USA, allowing it to rattle around inside without any kind of protection - resulting in ... a slightly bent monocular head for the eyepiece.

Apparently, Soviet-era optical equipment is built to last.

With the replacement, everything is back in focus again! I'll post micrographs of microscopic things on Flickr as soon as I figure out how to align my dSLR-carrying tripod correctly.

Stupidly enough, it wasn't this purchase that got my credit card temporarily blocked - it was trying to buy $5-worth of groceries at a nearby Safeway. And this reminds me, I still need to post packages out elsewhere...

Sunday Things - SPAAAAAACE edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday June 24 2012

What’s your favourite thing about space? Mine is space.

Now try putting them back together again.
Decommissioning the Space Shuttles - now neatly installed in museums, they required gutting first.

Now try putting THAT back together again.
Fate of the Soviet Buran shuttle - still, the US shuttles had a less traumatic fate than the Soviet version...

I hope it works I hope it works I hope it works (breathe!)

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Curiosity's Seven Minutes of Terror - how do you land a giant nuclear-powered rover on another planet? Extra: full animation is similarly dramatic...

Lookin' good!
Cosmonaut survival training - forget landing on a runway in Florida, or splashing down in a tropical bit of the Pacific. Extra: Soviet space-pyjamas!

Bonus Antiquated Soviet Rocketry corner:

Also, dear readers - who are you people? I've already got loads of subscribers to the RSS feed - but you're all remarkably quiet. Do post comments. Don't be shy!

Friday Fings - ancient edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Friday June 22 2012

Another assorted selection of things entirely derived from the bowels of my bookmarks list...

Anyone else feel hungry?
Anatomical Atlases - from the National Library of Medicine's collection. Despite some being centuries old, can unsurprisingly get a bit graphic - so be warned...

I'd love to see it on a dSLR
Splendidly fast lenses - from a German camera wiki. No idea what the article's about, but the pictures are nice... Extra: about the f/0.7 lens used to film Kubrick's Barry Lyndon

Now replaced by a $5 MEMS gyroscope
Inertial Navigator Platform - navigation system originally used on the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, apparently. Extra: Ms. van Vark has a splendid selection of hardware.

Bonus Morbid Incidents of Mystery corner:

  • Dyatlov Pass incident - fabrication? Fact? What did cause the mysterious and violent deaths of nine hikers on the flanks of a Russian mountain?
  • An abandoned lifeboat at world’s end - a ship's lifeboat, found washed ashore on Bouvet Island - perhaps the loneliest place on Earth. Who was on it, and why?

Sunday Things - happy fun edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday June 17 2012

"Oh, don't mind the tripod. I'm just taking some deeply sinister photos. Carry on!"
City of Shadows - long, black-and-white exposures of a newly post-communist Saint Petersburg, from Alexey Titarenko.

I think it likes me!
Video and Optical - bulbous, insectile machines, monitoring and watching and listening, from Bjoern Schuelke.

I think I just soiled myself. :-(
METACHAOS - feeling cheerful? Sleeping well? Change all that with this frankly horrifying animation - filamentatious, ferrofluidic writhing by way of Silent Hill and Cyriak's worst nightmares, from Alessandro Bavari.

Had enough? Here's an emergency bonus Cuddly Fluffy Animal Corner to aid the recovery.

So cute!
Leopard Moth - from Wikipedia.

I miss these blighters. :-(
Cockchafer Beetle - also from Wikipedia. Do you find its name ... amusing, eh? You disgust me!

Thursday Things

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Thursday June 14 2012

Top. Men.
Fifty greatest matte paintings - yeah, it's a list, but it's got some weird and wonderful stuff. And Hitchcock was an absolute master of showing things that weren't there, it turns out.

Like a helicopter without the sanity.
Tailsitter Aeroplanes - as with anything in the early Cold War, completely and utterly insane.

FOR SALE: sea view
Last house on Holland Island - since fallen into the sea. Reminds me a bit of the Brighton West Pier...

'Tokamak' - lovely word.
Giant cross-section of ITER tokamak - currently under construction in the south of France.

Bonus Cuddly Robots of DOOM corner:

  • Ping Bot - tiny robot which scuttles around a table, beeping curiously - before releasing a tiny knife-missile which plunges through your sternum.
  • Yellow Drum Machine - samples its own beats tapped out on its surroundings, then samples your own screams as it burrows through your skull.