The ‘Flying Bum’ is almost ready

Flying Bum
Click to enlargeHybrid Air Vehicles

The world’s largest airship, nicknamed the ‘Flying Bum’, is almost ready for its test flight next month.

The 300ft-long (93 metres) ship was originally developed as part of a US Army project but was scrapped by military bosses…It is now being converted to provide business and leisure flights in a hangar in Cardington, Bedfordshire.

The vessel was filled with 1.3 million cubic feet of helium – enough to fill 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools – in a test run last October…Yet despite its impressive size and design, which is hoped to reinvigorate interest in using airships, the vehicle is attracting more attention for its appearance.

The October tests caused a stir on Twitter, with many spotting the airship’s rather unfortunate resemblance to a human bottom

The craft has already been tested with a successful hover test, with the hull being filled with helium and floated outside the aircraft hanger in November, but this will be the first test once the engines are successfully attached…If successful, an aircraft based on this prototype will go into production.

I love airships. Being an old fart, I remember the sight of some pretty big navy dirigibles overhead during WW2. Truly impressive.

New instrument generates music with 2,000 marbles

 

Swedish musician Martin Molin has long had experience with esoteric instruments like the glockenspiel, traktofon, or Theremin, but he may have topped his musical prowess with the invention of his own new instrument: the Wintergatan Marble Machine, a hand-cranked music box loaded with instruments including a circuit of 2,000 cascading steel marbles.

As the devices cycles it activates a vibraphone, bass, kick drum, cymbal and other instruments that play a score programmed into a 32 bar loop comprised of LEGO technic parts. The marbles are moved internally through the machine using funnels, pulleys, and tubes.

Molin began work on the marble machine in August 2014 and hoped to spend about two months on the project. Its complexity soon spiraled out of control as all 3,000 internal parts had to be designed and fabricated by hand, a time-consuming process that eventually took 14 months. An early version was designed using 3D software, but it was easier for Molin to create parts on the fly leading to it’s Frankenstein appearance…

Despite the extreme interest an oddity like the Wintergatan Marble Machine is bound to generate — especially on the internet — don’t expect to see it on tour anytime soon, as the contraption has to be completely disassembled to move it. Molin hopes to build additional music devices, some smaller, or perhaps more suited for transport.

Who will be the first to compose music specifically to be played on this?

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Conspicuous consumption is contagious


There goes the neighborhood!

When someone wins the lottery, it can be bad news for his neighbor’s finances. A new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia examines the relationship between lottery winners in a particular Canadian province and bankruptcies in the same province — it found that neighbors of lottery winners are unusually likely to go bankrupt, and the larger the lottery prize, the more likely bankruptcy becomes.

Specifically, every $1,000 in lottery winnings translates to a 2.4 percent higher probability of a nearby neighbor declaring bankruptcy.

The researchers have an explanation for why this happens, too. When people declare bankruptcy in Canada, they have to disclose all their major assets — things like houses, cars, boats, and motorcycles — to the courts. The researchers found that the larger the lottery prize, the more money bankrupt neighbors spent on big-ticket vanity purchases — and the more likely they were to run out of money.

The clever study is one of the first to provide statistically rigorous evidence for a claim that seems plausible but is hard to prove: that rising inequality causes people to spend beyond their means in an effort to “keep up with the Joneses.” This is the idea that when someone’s wealth suddenly increases, her neighbors — and probably her friends and relatives — feel pressure to spend more to avoid being upstaged. Ultimately, this kind of competition can leave everyone worse off.

Never lived in a neighborhood where this was a problem. Most times, you struck it rich – you moved out of where I lived. 🙂