Ground Control to Major Tom.
- Carl Sagan’s reflections serve as a reminder that Apollo wasn’t about science, it was about displaying military power. It wasn't until Apollo 17 when a scientist, Harrison Schmitt, was on board a flight.
- Apollo In Real Time is archival masterpiece that painstakingly documents the Apollo 11 mission with a cool dashboard.
- How do they keep cool in space? Without the ability to regulate body heat, astronauts have wildly complicated liquid cooling garments.
- For us, the sleeping arrangements of the Apollo crew symbolize the priorities of the human element of space travel, which is to say human comfort is not a priority.
- This is an audit of Nasa’s space suit management from 2017, which explores the current and future state of spacesuit technology. A few months ago, NASA took some heat for not having enough medium sized suits; this document provides context.
- A point of interest for those of us who solder: Here is Nasa’s soldering and wire connection standards. How does your work compare?
- We’re not sold on Blue Origin’s vision and approach, and this Citylab article explores whether or not this vision is really forward thinking. It's a great overview of the habitats that Jeff Bezos revealed at the Blue Origin keynote, and how they are based on Gerard O’Neill’s life’s work. We have encountered these habitats through the incredible artwork of Don Davis and Rick Guidace.
- In 1910, Earth passed through the tail of Halley’s comet, and there was public panic. Understanding how space and celestial phenomena have been interpreted throughout history can give us an interesting insight into how we are currently experiencing space travel, as well as how we can look back on it in the future.
- The team behind the excellent mailing list The Orbital Index has compiled an excellent list of space resources. Ben Lachman, one half of the Orbital Index, will be curating The Prepared later this summer.
An E-Commerce Monopoly.
- Counterfeit goods continue to be a problem on Amazon, and the sale of unsafe infant car seats is a particularly upsetting example. Proof of a patent violation is more likely to get a product pulled than being demonstrably unsafe.
- HQ2 may have pulled out of New York, but the infrastructure mapping wizard Ingrid Burrington shows how the company continues to expand in less flashy ways across the city.
- In the days following the Prime Day strike, July 15th and 16th, it’s hard to suss out what the impact has been. There were record breaking sales, but also a lot of dialogue was started. The company’s bottom line may also have been impacted by $13,000 lenses being sold for $95.
- After a hiatus for a major surgery, Tim Carmony is back with his newsletter Amazon Chronicles. From supply chains to social issues, Tim is doing an incredible job explaining what is going on with one of the largest companies in history.
Making & Mechanisms.
- This tide prediction machine is a fascinating example of an earlier, different paradigm of computation.
- The Antikythera mechanism, an ancient Greek analogue computer is being meticulously recreated by Clickspring on youtube. He is an incredible machinist and historian, and speculates about the nature of the mechanism and analogue computing.
- This is an amazing explanation of how integrated circuits work, an excellent contrast to the mechanical tide machine! Evil Mad Scientist breaks down how the microscopic elements of an IC function in a clear way.
- Why do PCBs have 45 degree corners? Why are there no right angles? This detailed teardown has all the answers!
- A delightful gallery of paper mechanisms.
- The infrastructure that controls the internet is at risk of being consumed by rising sea levels. We believe it’s important to make infrastructure more visible so we will value it more highly, however humans just aren’t very good at assessing environmental risks, as evidenced by the attitude of realtors who are selling property in sinking Miami Beach.
- 50 Things that Made the Modern Economy with Tim Harford is a podcast about the inventions that shape our lives. Things we take for granted have profound historical and future effects on our world.
- This is an excellent guide to what technologists and engineers can do to combat climate change, with quantified information about where our efforts will be the most useful. This is a reminder that this problem is well understood, and there are areas that need better products to create a low-carbon future.
How it’s made.
- A video card on a breadboard is the electronics project we didn’t know we wanted to see. In this two part video (1, 2) Ben Eater produced ‘the world’s worst video card’ with Bob Ross level chill.
- We love this interactive breakdown of what exactly a jpeg is and does. The inline editor lets you play around with the underlying code and see how the image distorts and breaks down.
- The infrastructure that will be needed to implement 5G networks is extensive, energy intensive and running into zoning issues. For all the hype about next-gen connectivity, logistics and legislative issues are piling up behind the scenes. This essay exposes the political and physical reality behind the network, which doesn't seem worth the outlay to us.
- This rerun of an essay from the 90s about the lives of air traffic controllers in the NYC area is incredibly stressful. We couldn’t find any conclusive evidence it’s improved in the intervening 30 years, but we all owe a lot to these multitasking controllers.
- This is an amazing video of an inductively activated LED contact lens. Wireless cyborg power!
- Memphis has a giant pyramid sponsored by Bass Pro with a history just as bizarre as you might think.
- Scientists don’t entirely understand how tape works.
- Restoration at the Louvre is aided by an onsite particle accelerator! This twitter thread takes you into the basement where the magic happens.
- One of the most bizarre shows on television stars our friend Andrew Quitmeyer building Arduino projects out in the elements in Hacking the Wild. He’s also leading the Digital Naturalism conference in Panama this August!