Visit the Offworld Colonies, 70’s Style

Bernal Spheres Way back in the 70’s NASA commissioned a few studies on what long term space colonies might be like. Many artistic renderings were done as visual aids and have become icons of a future that might have been. I remember seeing these on the pages of Starlog and Future magazine when I was a little kid and wanted more than anything to live among the stars. Well, that didn’t happen. Closest I’ve come to it is working with computers, flying a lot and watching loads of Science Fiction movies.
The educational resources are simply a joy to browse through. I mean, where else are you going to find data on low-g agriculture and a Ringworld simulator?

[via MAKE, boingboing]

Space Settlement Education Information

Space Colony Art from the 1970s

Weird Al Yankovic on Japanese TV

Weird Al in JapanThe undisputed modern master of parody, Weird Al Yankovic, appeared on Japanese television back when his hit ‘Eat It‘ was soaring through the charts. You have to see this as it’s clear that ‘ol Weird Al was out weirded by the host and pretty much everyone on the stage. The giant lobster is surreal…

[via waxy

Weird Al Yankovic Performs “Eat It” On Japanese TV at TV in Japan

The Landmaster

LandmasterAny science fiction fan worth their salt knows what your talking about when you mention the word "Landmaster". Arguable one of the most recognized vehicle ever created for a movie (Damnation Alley), this monster of a futuristic super survival truck was built to last and actually be practical. Meaning that it’s not just for show but it actually works. The Landmasters most noticeable feature is its odd tri-star wheel arrangement. Twelve wheels, all powered but only eight are in contact with the road, are set into four triangular mounts that will rotate over large obstacles. This gives the Landmaster the ability to go through deep mud, over big rocks, and pretty deep water. Turning this beast is done with an articulated joint in the middle of the vehicle. Did I mention that it floats? Yeah, it floats. It’s amazing that such detail was given to a prop in a move. It’s a tribute to the skill of Dean Jefferies, car master and artist. He built loads of cars that appeared in films in the 60’s and 70’s like the Monkees, Logan’s Run, Green Hornet, The Great Race, and even Diamonds are Forever. In fact, if your in the Hollywood area you might see the mighty Landmaster parked next to Jefferie’s auto shop on Cahuenga boulevard. This page has loads of info and photos on the beast. I hope to see it in another film soon, it’s got a few more miles left on it for sure.

Damnation Alley Landmaster Page

Logan’s Run Gun Memories

 DS Pistol from Logans Run

One of the first props that I ever made was a DS pistol from the movie Logan’s Run. This was around 1986, way before the Internet was popular and prop makers had the crisp clarity of DVDs (I didn’t have a laser disc player, I didn’t even see one until the 87’s), that makes it easier to freeze frame images of props. I worked from plans a friend of mine had, I think they came from some sort of Logan’s Run guide book. Never having built a prop let alone a replica of one used in a movie, the materials used were a little sketchy. I remember using a few pill bottles for the tubes, Legos for spaces, and stacked sheets of ABS plastic that I ground down on a bench grinder for the grips. Other than falling apart once due to super glue failure it worked pretty well. Later in life I ended up owning a resin copy of one that had a light bulb in the end. that was pretty cool, not as cool as the ones that fired real flame but still… I can’t remember what happened to these, I think I sold them or traded them years ago but they were fun while I had them. It sure is nice to see that not everyone has forgotten this movie, the film was cool (read the book, way better) but the gun was the coolest.

Memory jogged via Props and Costumes form Logans Run

Storage The Old Fashioned Way, On a Drum

Burroughs drum storage 

Today when people talk about storage you hear megabytes, gigabytes, sometimes even terabytes. Luxury. Back in 1957 you had to make do with 4000 words of storage on a big old spinning drum.  Each word was made up of 10 decimal digits and one additional digit that was used for marking if it was an algebraic expression or an instruction. Each digit is made up of a four bit binary number (called a ‘nibble‘ now days). This gives you about 20KB of storage in today’s world. This was pretty major storage back then. I can’t help but think that this kind of old computer technology couldn’t be used in making simple robots, or even some sort of LEGO device. I think it’s pretty cool none the less. You can see more of the venerable Burroughs computer manuals here at the  Department of Computer Science (University of Virginia) Historical Computer Literature page.

Burroughs 205 Central Computer Handbook