Four Tiny Devices



Material Focus: Amorphous Alloys


Your Apple product will eventually be made of an amorphous metal- Vitreloy. This is a member of a strange family of alloys called amorphous metals, otherwise known as liquidmetals. Amorphous alloys are metals that do not have a crystalline structure (if you have ever seen a broken piece of cast iron I’m sure you probably noticed the dull, gray crystalline structure) but they instead have a liquid/glass like composition. These amorphous metal alloys are much stronger than their crystalline metal counterparts, so parts can be lighter.

Liquid Technologies, inc is a spinoff of a long Caltech/NASA/DOE research project into amorphous metals. While Vitreloy has been commercially available since 2003, it is relatively expensive and we have not yet seen widespread use of the material- but that may change soon- Liquid Technologies granted Apple an exclusive license to use their alloys for consumer electronics last year.

An amazing thing about liquidmetals is that once formed, they can be reheated and molded- while retaining their amorphous, non-crystalline structure. In my mind I compare this to glass- once sand, etc becomes glass, the glass can be remelted, cool, and it is still glass- it doesn’t become sand again. So, liquidmetals can be diecast, injection molded, etc. Here is an article in Nature News, another in Plastics Today, and one more.


So, watch for the Ipad3 or 4 to have a Vitreloy frame. For you bicycle riders out there, amorphous metals will be playing their part soon.

If you get a wild inclination to be a penny stock investor, Liquid Technologies is trading at 16 cents a share, search “LQMT.OB.”




Baikonur Cosmodrome

Baikonur Cosmodrome. One of the few spaceports in the world, and the first,  on the desert steppes of Kazakhstan.

images via flickr



Baby Eagle Update: 1 Born, 2 to Go!

Man, I have been seriously watching this livesteam like a damn soap opera!  1 baby eagle was born this morning and is just about the cutest thing ever..  2 more to go today or tomorrow!

Here are some screen captures I took when Mama eagle was letting the little one stretch:

Iowa Baby Eagles About to Hatch!


This is pretty amazing!  Three baby bald eagles in Iowa are about to hatch (due today!), live on the web. The Raptor Resource Project in Iowa has set up two cameras perched 80 feet high in a cottonwood tree where the mother eagle has her nest.

I am absolutely glued to this video!!

(thanks to my sis-in-law for the heads up)

General Curtiss Lemay’s Silver Wing Box

From the Wilson History & Research Center:

“This silver box featuring pilot’s wings belonged to United States Air Force General Curtis Emerson LeMay (1906-1990). LeMay organized the strategic bombing campaign in the Pacific Theater of Operations during WWII (1939-1945), organized the Berlin Airlift (1948) and restructured the Strategic Air Command of the United States.”

I think LeMay had an eye- this box is great. I hope the polish stays away because this patina is beautiful. It’s worth clicking on these photos for a closer look.

Cue the Pink Floyd, Here Comes a Nature Light Show!

Terje Sorgjerd spent a week capturing one of the biggest (and most beautiful) aurora borealis shows in years.  Shot in Pas National Park bordering Russia, while tepratures around -20° F.



Bomber Cap, USAAF

Maine Cap

A Korean War Veteran’s cap.

Flight Helmets

These are so awesome I can hardly stand it.  Be sure to click at the bottom to see all the photos, I can’t edit them down!


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Prototype Helmet, Chad Hodge

Brooklyn based industrial designer Chad Hodge designed this beautiful helmet, a prototype for his senior thesis, University of Cincinnatti. See his portfolio here

Via Bubblevisor

Travel by Air Ship 1938

A good idea in 1938:

The new ‘flying tube’ airship. Washington, D.C., Mar. 14. Immediate commercial development of a new lighter-than-air airship of novel design, which its engineering sponsors believe will revolutionize air transportation, bringing safety, speed, load capacity, and easy maneuverability to airship performance, was announced today. Air sucked through the tube will create a vacuum in front and give a propulsive kick at the outlet. Universal joints will be located at the entrance and exit of the tube, moving in any direction of the air intake and outlet, thus steering the flying tube. The ship will be entirely metal clad and the lifting power will be helium gas in aluminum partitions. Garret W. Peck, designer and vice pres. in charge of construction, left; and Clifford C. Jones, specialist with the Inter-Ocean Dirigible Corp., right, with the working model of the ship

This would be a great idea now, too, except use composite skin instead of aluminum.  I’d like to travel by Air Ship!

Motorsport Chronograph

The German watchmaker Gottlieb Bergmann Zeitnehmer makes this gorgeous mechanical stopwatch.

Land Carpets

Every time I fly back to the Midwest, my favorite part is flying over the farmland because it makes such incredible patterns.  So when I saw  these land carpets by Florian Pucher, I fell in love.  Made in a limited number, you can choose between Eurpe, Africa, the Netherlands, or the USA.

via coolhunting

Its time for a Mathis 333 Turbodiesel

Émile Mathis was a once an important French car maker, he started early on and had dealings with Ford.  He couldn’t get along well with the French government and eventually sold everything to Citroen. Soon after, he was probably pushed out of a hotel window, a little intrigue there. He and Jean Andreau developed this stunning little car, the Mathis 333, secretly, during the German occupation of France. This vehicle premiered at the auto show in Paris in 1946, but the French government would not let him produce it.  It featured monocoque aluminum body, and a 800 cc horizontally opposed twin cylinder engine, and it got superb gas mileage.  It only weighed 840 lbs.

Fast Forward 64 years: please, someone, make this again, include airbags, carbon fiber & aluminum, and side impact protection.  Match this light little car with Daimler’s efficient 800 cc CDI turbo diesel, (pictured at the end of this post, seen employed in the T800 diesel motorcycle) the one that is used in euro smart fortwos.

The smart fourtwos weigh 1850lbs.  I imagine a modern Mathis 333 could match the 1946 333s weight of 840lbs. With this diesel achieving 86mpg in the fourtwo, imagine what it would do in a 2013 Mathis 333 that could weigh half as much?

The fact that it is three wheeled means that it the US it would be legally considered a motorcycle.

And here is the Daimler Turbodiesel engine that the 2013 Mathis 333 needs…

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