Monday, 31 March 2014

Prime Mover Mondays - The Packard Bentley "Mavis"

The Packard Bentley "Mavis" is the ultimate kit car. Yes, that is a 1930s Bentley racing car body. And yes, that is a WWII-era 42 liter, 1,500 bHP Packard diesel engine of PT boat origin. But no-one conceived of that as a form of transportation until the inspired British racing enthusiast Chris Williams got out his wrench set and made it all happen.

Some things that I love about this clip:
  • The flames shooting out of the exhaust manifolds
  • The fact that the car, racing on an airstrip, sounds like a WWII fighter place
  • The live steam that emerges when least expected

If you want the factual background, then visit this Wiki page

Monday, 24 March 2014

Cover Song Wednesdays - Jimmy Webb

Jimmy Webb, Cher, Art Garfunkel...

Cover Song Wednesdays - Iron Man feat. Tesla Coil

The erudite Bulent Besim sent this explanation via Google+

Couldn't help sharing this one: Playing Black Sabbath on Tesla coils with an iron guitar, standing in a Faraday suit. The MIDI signal from the guitar is routed through a fiber optic cable to control the Tesla coils.

Prime Mover Mondays - Awesome Powerful Train plow through snow

Here in the North we have lived through one hard winter. Here's a video showing how awesome it is when diesel trains push snowplows through snowdrifts...

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Phunky Physics Fridays - Tesla's little secret

One of my personal projects I like to call "The Men Who Stole Niagara Falls". These are the 19th Century American robber barons who stole it - first from the aboriginal population - and second, from America herself as they trenched and tunneled it and pushed the Falls into millraces to make their fortunes.

Central to this intrigue are George Westinghouse and the genius Nikola Tesla. For it is Tesla who invents polyphase alternating current out of whole cloth. Polyphase AC makes possible transmission of electricity over long distances. Which in turn makes it possible to generate electricity on rural rivers, and transmit it to cities for industrial production.

To me Einstein and Tesla will be forever linked - because both discovered a set of pure mathematical formulae involving 4 dimensional equations. In Einstein's case it's that old chesnut E=MC2. Tesla's findings are not as mind-blowing, but they are practical and important to our industrial development. The "Power Curve" is the most formidable factor in electrical engineering. As soon as I energize my large electrical motor it draws infinite amps and zero volts. But the electrical grid is sending hundreds of volts and dozens of amps. Why doesn't the whole thing melt down?

Because of the genius of Nicola Tesla. Tesla understood these four-dimensional equations and developed electrical equipment to maintain the power curve in a null state even as massive devices were switched on and off.

In this delightful video clip we find a Tesla-phile who shows us the drawing of a Tesla Coil and then coldly observes that it would work better collecting energy from the atmosphere than transmitting generated electricity into the sky. Which I am fairly certain is what Tesla always said he was working on.

The reason I believe him, BTW - because the capacitor, spark gap and coil form an oscillator circuit. Whereas pumping electricity into the circuit would require a rectifier to bring the mains into DC.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Cover song Wednesdays - Leaving on a Jet Plane

In my quieter moments I wonder why the Internet has never inspired adulation in popular culture. As opposed to, say, "Leavin on a Jet Plane", a song which celebrates technology and its effects on contemporary relationships.

Peter, Paul & Mary

John Denver

Chantal Kreviazuk

Monday, 17 March 2014

Prime Mover Mondays - 1955 Ghia Streamline X 'Gilda' Concept Car

Who doesn't love the turbine whine of the batmobile? Well guess what? - Such a vehicle existed!

Ghia Gilda Streamline X Coupè

According to - Chrysler’s executives commissioned it in 1955 and it was designed by Giovanni Savonuzzi of Italy’s Ghia coachbuilding firm. The car was shaped to take a gas turbine, but it was never fitted with one: the Gilda toured the show circuit with a 1.5-liter OSCA four-pot, then was handed over to the Henry Ford Museum, where it sat until purchased by a Californian eight years ago for $125,000.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

The TTC's new train signals

In Toronto residents are understandably annoyed when the TTC closes the downtown part of the subway system for maintenance work. This is a video that explains what work is being done to install new signals, and why it's necessary to close the line entirely to do it.