A Proto-typewriter, 1857.

A Proto-typewriter, 1857.JF Ptak Science Books
Here we have a lovely attempt at what is close to being a typewriter (a “hand-printing machine”), found in the Journal of the Franklin Institute for June 1857.
The size isn’t given but my guess is that it would be about the size of foolscap paper, easily desk-top.
It seems fairly simple in a slightly complex way, and I can easily see where it would serve as a stop-gap implement between what came before and the typewriter.
The short article introducing the workings of the machine is surprisingly very readable, even though it is brisk and sharp.
It is just well done.It is difficult to see some of the annotations, even in the original, and even with a magnifying glass, but for that first indicator “H” you can find it just southward of the bell-like object (“M”, which turns out to be a handle for the paper roller), and “E” was another difficult one to find, and that one turns out to be the pivot in the center of the type circular.
In any event, the thing operates much like a typewriter, the lever “D” moved to the position of the letter needed, then pressed down, moving the type into place against the ink and the paper, which is loaded in rollers much like a modern typewriter.
Source: JF Ptak Science Books: A Proto-typewriter, 1857.

Macmillan’s Pedal Bicycle, c.1840.

MacmillanBicycleMacmillan was a Scottish blacksmith who is credited with the invention of the pedal bicycle.
Kirkpatrick Macmillan was born in 1812 in Dumfriesshire, the son of a blacksmith.
He did a variety of jobs as a young man, before settling into working with his father in 1824. At around that time he saw a hobbyhorse being ridden along a nearby road, and decided to make one for himself.
Upon completion, he realised what a radical improvement it would be if he could propel it without putting his feet on the ground. Working at his smithy, he completed his new machine in around 1839.
This first pedal bicycle was propelled by a horizontal reciprocating movement of the rider’s feet on the pedals.
This movement was transmitted to cranks on the rear wheel by connecting rods; the machine was extremely heavy and the physical effort required to ride it must have been considerable.
Nevertheless, Macmillan quickly mastered the art of riding it on the rough country roads, and was soon accustomed to making the fourteen-mile journey to Dumfries in less than an hour.
His next exploit was to ride the 68 miles into Glasgow in June 1842. The trip took him two days and he was fined five shillings for causing a slight injury to a small girl who ran across his path.
He never thought of patenting his invention or trying to make any money out of it, but others who saw it were not slow to realize its potential, and soon copies began to appear for sale.
Gavin Dalzell of Lesmahagow copied his machine in 1846 and passed on the details to so many people that for more than 50 years he was generally regarded as the inventor of the bicycle.
However, Macmillan was quite unconcerned with the fuss his invention had prompted, preferring to enjoy the quiet country life to which he was accustomed.
He died on 26 January 1878.
via BBC History.

Graf Zeppelin, the Man.

Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1972-099-15,_Ferdinand_Graf_Zeppelin_am_SchreibtischZeppelin, Ferdinand, Graf von , 1838-1917, German army officer and airship inventor and builder.
He entered the Prussian army in 1858 and served in the Seven Weeks War and in the Franco-Prussian War.
He was an observer with the Union army during the American Civil War.
In 1891 he retired from the Prussian army to devote himself to the building of motor-driven airships.
He invented the first rigid airship in 1900, and in 1906 built one that had a speed of 30 mi (48 km) per hr. I
n 1908 he established at Friederichshafen the Zeppelin Foundation for the development of aerial navigation and the manufacture of airships.
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The Zeppelin was a rigid airship, cigar-shaped, trussed, and covered frame supported by internal gas cells, below which hung two external cars with an engine geared to two propellers.
The first zeppelin flew in 1900. In World War I zeppelins were used as bombers by Germany.
In 1928 the Graf Zeppelin inaugurated transatlantic flight service; it had completed 590 flights by 1937, when the Hindenburg disaster halted such flights.
via Zeppelin | Learn everything there is to know about Zeppelin at Reference.com.

The Champion Asbestos Gas Fire, 1884.

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Example of the World’s love affair with Asbestos, even in the 1880’s they knew of its harmful nature.
NAMPA — Chemistry professor Jerry Harris has a book in his office at Northwest Nazarene University called, “Asbestos: Silk of the Mineral Kingdom,” published in 1946.
He pulls it out when he needs a prime example of why his research on nanoparticles toxicity is important.
Asbestos is the infamous material that has cost billions of dollars to remove after it was used in millions of manufacturing projects throughout the 20th century.
But inhaling it for a long period of time has been shown to cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, among other sicknesses.
His project is one of six taking place at NNU under a $3.2 million, five-year grant from the IdeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence Program, or INBRE — a grant that was just renewed at the beginning of this month.
Harris’ research centers on what can happen when a material is broken down into smaller and smaller particles, or nanoparticles.
As a substance is compressed, it can change shape and color, sometimes changing its biological factors.
“So as (researchers) are starting to look at these nanomaterials, they’re trying to avoid something like asbestos from happening again,” Harris said.
Continue on from the Idaho Press Tribune.

Transparent Canoe gives Incredible View of what’s below.

invisiblecanoe2If you’ve ever wanted to cruise the ocean in a glass-bottom boat, then consider this transparent canoe/kayak as another fun, unconventional option.
Hammacher Schlemmer recently started selling the clear polymer hull that seats two people and supports up to 425 pounds of weight.
As you paddle along the water, you’re offered a full view of everything that’s beneath the surface.
Imagine seeing the fish swimming right below you.
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The watercraft is meant for a fun and safe ride.
Its durable material is the same that’s found in the cockpit canopies of supersonic fighter jets, and it also includes an anodized aluminum frame that weighs 40 pounds.

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This makes it easy to transport or store. Seating is adjustable and has paddlers sitting lower to the deck for improved balance.
In addition, the vessel displaces a greater amount of water for added surface stability.
via Transparent Canoe Offers Incredible Views of the Ocean Below – My Modern Met.