Sunday, August 15, 2004

MIT Museum visit

Visited the MIT Museum today, with Christina, Victor and Justin [who was Victor's "little brother" in the Big Brother program while Victor was in Boston]. Overall, it was very nifty; my favorite bits were

- one of the original "Lisp machines", which looked like it had been hand-wired [and what a pain in the ass that must have been -- there were hundreds of wiring endpoints and the wiring was at least 5-6 layers deep]
- a sculpture/machine which consists of a set of 12 interconnected gear - worm gear speed reducers [a "worm gear speed reducer" reduces the speed of rotation of a gear, something I'd never heard of before today]. Each such combination reduces the input rotation speed by a factor of 50, so the initial input rotation speed is reduced by an overall factor of (1/50)^12 ie quite a bit :-) The end result is that with the input gear rotating at 212 times per minute, the last gear in the series will take 2.191 trillion years to rotate once. Now that's what I call building for the long term :-). The entire "Gestural Engineering" section was really cool.
- A picture of the first few microseconds of a nuclear explosion, taken with apparatus invented by Harold "Doc" Edgerton, whose better-known pictures are of a bullet going through an apple and a droplet of splashing milk frozen in time with perfect clarity.

Definitely a good place to take visitors and my favorite science/engineering musem so far.

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