Wylie Overstreet and Alex Gorosh made this impressive scale model of the solar system out in a dry lakebed in Nevada. Trying to make sense of our place in the solar system is extremely difficult. Most of us don’t travel beyond a few miles from our homes with much regularity, so I really appreciate films like this and “Riding Light” (featured here), which give us a much greater appreciation for the staggering immensity of our Universe.
Some people may feel insignificant, but it makes me feel hopeful. There is so much to explore even in our small corner of the galaxy.
Youtuber, James Risner, has built this mesmerizing spiral train setup that looks pretty amazing to view in endless GIF format. I’d like to see a similar video with different colored trains that could synch up in different ways through the train’s passage.
Check out this 360° video made as a demo by Samsung. If your internet speed can handle it, I recommend watching it in the full 4K resolution. It will be pretty amazing to hook up the Oculus Rift to video like this and get the fully immersive experience.
Use the ‘W, A, S, D’ keys to control direction on a computer.
Use the + and – keys to zoom.
I think you have to move your phone around if you are watching on mobile. But again, the real experience is to watch this type of video with an immersive virtual reality headset. FYI: you can cheaply get this experience with something like Google Cardboard and your mobile phone.
Wanderers is a beautiful short film by Erik Wernquist. The visuals depict humanity’s future expansion into the Solar System replete with colonies on Mars, astronauts floating through Saturn’s rings, and humans hiking across Europa’s frozen oceans. Erik’s renderings are stunning. As Phil Plait pointed out at Slate:
“Nothing in there is impossible; no faster than light travel, no wormholes. Even the space elevator shown towering over Mars and the huge cylindrical rotating colony in space (did you notice the Red Sea in it?) are problems in engineering, not physics. We can build them.”
Humanity has an exciting future ahead. I hope our species can work toward this reality.
The German company, Festo, has a history of making incredible, biomimetic robots in their laboratories. We have featured kangaroos, dragonflies, and jellyfish in the past. They’ve also made Air-Penguins, Air-Ray, robotic birds, and the Airacuda. The butterfly may seem less ambitious than those efforts, but the butterflies can swarm in the air while avoiding collisions.
Each butterfly weighs a little over an ounce and has a wingspan of 20 inches. They consist of nothing more than a couple of motors, batteries, infrared markers, and soft, elastic wings.
The robots were not developed to sell but represent continued research efforts towards making ultralight, networked robotics systems. I think the company should focus on these creations and move them to market. I want one!
“Riding Light” is a new, beautiful animation by Alphonse Swinehart. In the 45-minute journey, you will travel with light on its way from the Sun to Jupiter. I love videos like this because they really help me gain a better appreciation for the scale of our Universe. If you watch light travel from Earth to Mars, for example, you will realize how difficult it will be to successfully complete a manned exploration mission to the red planet. There’s just so much emptiness between the planetary masses…
A word from the creators:
“In our terrestrial view of things, the speed of light seems incredibly fast. But as soon as you view it against the vast distances of the universe, it’s unfortunately very slow. This animation illustrates, in realtime, the journey of a photon of light emitted from the surface of the sun and traveling across a portion of the solar system, from a human perspective.
I’ve taken liberties with certain things like the alignment of planets and asteroids, as well as ignoring the laws of relativity concerning what a photon actually “sees” or how time is experienced at the speed of light, but overall I’ve kept the size and distances of all the objects as accurate as possible. I also decided to end the animation just past Jupiter as I wanted to keep the running length below an hour.