November 15, 2006 (Vol. 26, No. 20)
Strong Points: Entertaining viewing
Weak Points: A bit light
Over the past few years, there has developed a nostalgia for older views of science, as seen through the eyes of the old Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and Scientific American magazines. This site sort of encapsulates that feeling. With an amazing collection of photos of some of the most improbable sorts of devices (rocket-powered bicycles, anyone?), this is a feast for the eyes and a reminder of how our view of high-tech has evolved over the years. Much of the site will make you scratch your head in wonder. Consider the personal helicopter (looks like a super-beanie helmet with wings), the propeller driven car (a ‘heliocycle’), steam-powered lawn mowers, the ammonia motor, the dog-powered engine, and a dicycle (like a bicycle, but with wheels side by side). Were these for real? Perhaps the main message this site communicates is that engineering marketing is an evolutionary process—some ideas never quite catch on and probably deserve to die. You still have to admire the inventiveness, though, even if it is strange in some cases.