At first glance – it’s just two tram cars going up and down a small hill: simple. However, on closer inspection you find out that these tram cars weren’t built say in the middle of the last century… No – it was actually 1888 when they were commissioned: amazing! And the engine they use?… Nope – no engine! The cars go up and down the hill using just gravity plus one other unlikely source of energy – water: astonishing!
Tag Archives: science
At last! Another dream of mine has come true – to see a spaceship take off! Hurray!
Last week it left Baikonur in Kazakhstan, and by the weekend it had already reached the International Space Station and docked. The crew’s made up of two Russians and one American – which perhaps explains why around town and in our hotel much American-accented English was to be heard.
We watched the liftoff from about two kilometers away, which might seem a long way off. But it isn’t. This isn’t U2 playing a stadium where being at the back is almost a waste of time and money… This is the Baikonur experience. The power generated by the massive rocket engines shook everything around so much it felt like an earthquake was occurring at the same time as the liftoff. Rather unnerving.
As recent events have confirmed – we have an active patent life.
Our inboxes keep getting filled with all sorts of e-mails – both positive and negative, interesting and insipid – about various patent claims and assorted inventions…
…Which got me thinking…
…Which led to my doing some research of some of the weird and wonderful – and totally wrong – predictions of ‘experts’ with regard to various new ideas, inventions and undertakings over the centuries.
Here’s an interesting list of 20 extremely bizarre absurdities which I found on the web; I’m sure it will at least raise an eyebrow or two, maybe compel a chuckle or three, or hopefully induce four LOLs:
1. “The fall of stones from the heavens is physically impossible.” – Paris Academy of Sciences on meteorites, 1772.
2. “In the future computers will weigh more than 1.5 tons.” – Popular Mechanics, 1949.
3. “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” – Thomas Watson, CEO, IBM, 1943.
4. “I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.” – Editor, Business Books, Prentice Hall, 1957.
5. “But what…is it good for?” – Engineer, Advanced Computing Systems Division, IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.
6. “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” – Ken Olson, Chairman, Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.
7. “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” – Western Union internal memo, 1876.
8. “The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” – Associates of David Sarnoff who was seeking investment in the radio in the 1920s.
9. “The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ‘C’, the idea must be feasible.” – Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing a reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
10. “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” – H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.
11. “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” – Decca Recording Co. suits rejecting the Beatles, 1962. (I LOLed to this one.)
12. “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” – William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, British scientist, 1899.
13. “That Professor Goddard with his ‘chair’ in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react – to say that would be absurd. Of course, he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.” – 1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard’s revolutionary rocket work. The remark was finally retracted in the July 17, 1969 issue.
14. “Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You’re crazy.” – Workers whom Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.
15. “Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” – Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, 1911.
16. “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” – Attributed to Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.
17. “Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.” – Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.
18. “The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon.” – Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria, 1873.
19. “640 kb ought to be enough for anybody.” – Attributed to Bill Gates, 1981.
20. “$100 million dollars is way too much to pay for Microsoft.” – IBM, 1982.
As is becoming a habit already, I’ll finish with another brainteasing conundrum:
A rope is stretched snugly around the Equator. It gets cut at one point and an extra one-meter section is inserted to its length. If this rope could magically float on air so that it is fully stretched out (as before), how far above the earth would it be floating?
// Not sure if Google translated ‘Hello everybody’ into Armenian correctly. This is just to flag that I was in this exotic (for most readers) country, as usual for a nice mix of business and pleasure – both covered below.
Last week I had the honor of receiving a prestigious academic award from the State Engineering University of Armenia, which awarded me an honorary doctorate! Namely, ‘for an outstanding contribution in the field of information security’, and handed to me by the uni’s rector.
Hurray! And thank you!
Oops, beg your pardon – the above pic was a bit of fun. Here come the ‘proper’ photos…