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Nag Technology

Following is an annotated collection of online resources concerning the exciting world of weird science, gadgets, vehicles, and other technological wonders.

Nag Technology

I should have known, but there is an About.com site devoted to inventions. Here’s the page devoted to Australian inventors. The Inventions A to Z page is particularly inspirational.

ACME, Inc. Aside from Wile E. Coyote, the NAGS Society is the largest international client of the ACME company. Browse the ORIGINAL Illustrated Catalog Of ACME Products for some of the fascinating gadgets they sell.

Here‘s an annotated list of 10 Ancient Civilizations With Advanced Technology.

What’s an Æolipile? If you’re not sure, have a look at this website. If you’re careful and can follow directions, the site even tells you how to make one.

The Alligator — The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Navy are currently diving off the coast of North Carolina in order to find the wreck of the Navy’s first submarine, the Alligator. National Geographic has a brief article with an accompanying drawing of the ill-fated sub.

American Artifacts is apparently a print magazine devoted to the fascinating world of nineteenth century inventions. For example, here’s a page concerning aquatic velocipedes. There is even a catalog of tools and implements for sale — no velocipedes, however, more’s the pity.

John Walker’s Fourmilab homage to the Analytical Engine of Charles Babbage includes a java based emulator of this steampunk staple. Before you let your villain steal one to take over the world, take the Babbage Engine for a spin to what it can do.

Ancient Automatons is a great site devoted to the creators of machines that imitate life.

Ancient Egyptian Flying Vehicles. Straight from the Von Daniken School of Archæology, we bring you an interesting tidbit from David Hatcher Childress. It would seem that some of the more secret Society operations are finally coming to light.

Ancient Technology — The Unexplained.net features an illustrated treatise on Ancient Technology such as ancient Egyptian airplanes and fossilized spark plugs. N.B.: The page is hosted by Tripod, so there is music, pop-ups, and other sundry annoyances.

Ancient Technology provides a few interesting tidbits on the subject.

Antikythera Mechanism — An ancient yet complex astronomical computing device uncovered in a shipwreck near the Greek island of Antikythera. Some sites have animated illustrations of the device. The Antikythera Mechanism Research Project is devoted to unlocking it’s secrets. In 2002, the Economist magazine ran an article on the Antikythera device. It’s brief, to be sure, but it’s always nice to read about an old friend. Number 444 of the journal Nature features and article on our old friend, the Antikythera Mechanism. There are some great photos and illustrations, as well as a recreation of the sound it would make.

ArchaeoBlog is, of course, a blog devoted to archæology (although the most recent piece is on the archaeology of a stereo speaker, though that, too, is interesting…).

Recovering Archimedes — Scientists at Stanford University are using x-ray technology to uncover the writing of Greek mathematician Archimedes, hidden within a 13th century prayer book.

Around the World [By Auto] in 80 Days — Have a look at the Team Busch website for a day-by-day account of an actual circumnavigation of the globe in a ’56 Mercedes-Benz to support Médecins Sans Frontières.

The Balloon Museum — Albuquerque, New Mexico is the proud new home to a museum devoted to hot air ballooning. Have a look at the site for some details about some of the exhibits one might find.

Biplanes Aplenty — David Bruns has sent along a smorgasbord of sites concerning WWI-era aircraft:

Boilerplate: Mechanical Marvel of the Nineteenth Century takes a page right out of the NAGS Society Handbook. My hat is off to them for an excellent website.

Greg Brotherton’s Brotron.com features his thoroughly spectacular metal sculptures of robots, scientific equipment, and several models of death ray. A potent source of inspiration, and, if one’s pockets are deep enough, a source for fabulous pulp decor…. [Overheard on the Wessex Games Yahoo Group.]

Century of Flight is a wonderful website devoted to the history of aviation. You’ll find loads of information and photos — a look at the “flying wing” section, for example, yield photos of Clement Ader’s aircraft rather than the usual drawings.

Computers Old & New — This Aussie Educator site devoted to Computers Old & New will take you down binary memory lane. I believe it’s all of a newer vintage than the TI timeline, but it ought to be inspiring in some fashion.

Crunchy Vehicles — If you are looking for a little more detail, a few more options, in a word, more crunch in your vehicles than TI provides, try Loïc Prot’s Crunchy Vehicles on the Fudge Guide page. You get transportation from bicycles to space colonies, all lovingly described in Fudge terms.

Dannysoar is a website devoted to idiosyncratic aircraft, both models and the originals. There is a a section devoted to Fantasy Aircraft — those designs that for one reason or another never became reality. Some links even feature blueprints — perfect for the scratchbuilder.

Dr. Grordbort’s Infallible Æther Oscillators & Other Marvellous Contraptions!, purveyors of fine rayguns. The little movies alone are worth the price of admission (which is, of course, free).

The Encyclopedia Smithsonian website describes some American inventions.

Always worth another Dispatch, Engines of Our Ingenuity is a PBS radio show from the University of Houston, TX hosted by John Lienhard which examines technology thoroughly relevant to Terra Incognita;— the Jacquard loom, Dionysius Lardner and early steam power technology, and Mesa Verde: Another civilization abandoned at its peak. There’s also a book version that you can get from Amazon.com.

The Éole — Clément Ader’s Éole has always been one of my favorite airplane precursors — a bat-like, steam powered craft with a comfortable looking cabin. Card Modelers Online has a 1/72 card version for free download (down near the middle of the page).

Facsimile Technology — Many technologies which seem to embody the information age actually had their roots in the steam age. One such example is the fax machine, the prototype for which was patented by the Scottish inventor Alexander Bain in 1843. See the HF Fax site for a history of the Victorian technology you still use in your office.

From the Steampunk Yahoo Group comes this excellent link concerning aviation history: Hargrave Aviation and Aeromodeling. For our purposes, the Pioneers page is an invaluable resource.

Horatio’s Drive: America’s First Road Trip — The new PBS Ken Burns film that premiers October 6, Horatio’s Drive: America’s First Road Trip, chronicles the 1903 cross country jaunt in a brand new Winton Touring Car. You can find out more on the Ken Burns site, including notes on the upcoming website to supplement the movie.

HowStuffWorks.com is an award-winning site that you can rely upon for clear explanations, helpful animations, and printable fact sheets on numerous complex devices.

From the blog of Mike Whybark come these musings (accompanied by assorted links) on How to Build a Zeppelin.

The IEEE Virtual Museum hosts some helpful online exhibits involving the history of electronic and computer technology. One exhibit discusses technological advances occasioned by war in general, and WWII in particular.

Inventors Museum — Contains information about actual inventors and their inventions. Includes articles by a favorite of mine, Robert Ripley (of Believe it or Not… fame).

Junkyard Wars Online is the support site for the English television show devoted to outré technology. As an example of the sort of madness they get paid to do, see this page on constructing clockwork cars.

Lateral Science is the best site I have seen thus far concerning actual Victorian weird science.

Mamod Model Steam Engines — Although they are a bit pricey, Wilesco sells actual steam-powered vehicles and engines, available either pre-assembled or as a kit. The models burn a “fuel tablet” and then the engine propels the vehicle with satisfying puffs of steam.

For the technologically and historically minded, I discovered the Master List of Inventions, from 1450 to 1950, from the printing press to the Polaroid. Now when you’re creating your own fantastic technology, you can see what your competition was up to…

The best way to understand technology is to try it for yourself. Mini Science is a collection of science projects for school children which can be fun to try yourself. When you’ve generated electricity with a potato, Nag Tech doesn’t seem so strange…

The Model T Ford Club of America website contains everything you might want to know about the Tin Lizzy (including links to other Model T clubs around the world). And if you need to get your Nag minis into a flivver, look no further than Reviresco and their Model T at War series. (They’ve got Rolls Royces, too, if the Op requires classier transport).

Modern Mechanix (“Yesterday’s tomorrow, today”) is a fascinating blog devoted to weird science and technology.

Mondo-Tronics’ Robot Store is the place to go if you’re in the market for an artificial life form.

The Museum of Retro Technology is publicizing many of the mechanical underpinnings of NagTech. Look here for more civilized communications technologies such as pneumatic networks and optical telegraphs.

The NautilusDisneysub.com is an exhaustive resource on the cinematic version of Nemo’s pride and joy.

Nott’s Nasca Æronautics — Ballooning enthusiast Julian Nott has recreated the balloons some folks think the pre-Inca Peruvians of 500 AD used to fly above the Nasca Plains.

Inventor Richard Pearse of New Zealand flew months before the American Wright brothers in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Pearse didn’t get far, and ended up in a bush, but some argue that he made the first sustained, controlled flight. See his website for a few of his other inventions, such as a mechanical guitar musicbox and the Convertiplane.

PilotundLuftschiff has some great illustrated timelines of the airship development (look under Luftschiffe). There’s probably also a lot of useful information that knowledge of the German tongue would reveal.

Pinhole Cameras — I’ve mentioned before that the best way to get ideas for absurd technology is to try it yourself. It’s quite simple to learn about photography, for example, by making your own pinhole camera. Stewart Woodruff teaches you how to make a camera from an oatmeal box, while this Exploratorium page give instructions for turning a Pringles potato chip can into a camera obscura. Finally, Kodak offers it’s own version of a pinhole camera, one that doesn’t even involve eating! This site — Pinhole.cz (originally in Czech) — even features a downloadable, print out and fold up pinhole camera.

PopularScience.net is a nice site concerning fascinating topics of scientific import.

Rosebud’s WWI Aviation Image Archive assembles an extensive collection of copyright free (I hope) images of WWI era aeroplanes and airships. The death photos are particulary evocative of the horrors of war and the dangers of new technology.

The NAGS Society paved the way for satellite surveillance of terra incognita. SatelliteDiscoveries.com will bring you up to date on the latest mysteries uncovered through these detectives in orbit.

Science Daily.com features a section on Fossils & Ruins, along with other topics such as Computers & Math or Mind & Brain.

Modern day Gadgeteers can find like-minded souls on the Science Hobbyist website.

Andy Patterson has assembled an interesting collection of information on Steam Automotive Technology. In addition to useful pages on steam engines and autos from the golden age at the turn of the last century, Andy includes pieces on steam cars from the 1970s. Who knew?

Steam Engine Library — The University of Rochester, NY history department hosts the Steam Engine Library, a wonderful collection of primary documents concerning the development of steam power, from first century Hero to Parsons of the late-Nineteenth century.

Steampunk Gadgets — Here’s a collection of photos of various objects — laptops, electric guitars — that enterprising folks have steampunkified.

Strange Science follows the rocky road to modern paleontology and biology, paying attention to those miscues scientists made along the way. Of particular interest to the TI GM is the Goof Gallery, a bestiary of fabulous scientific conjecture. But then again, who’s to say they were mistakes?

Submersibles are among the NAGS Society’s most frequently used craft — fast, stealthy, and discreet. The Submarine Wikipedia page does a wonderful job of providing an illustrated history of humanity’s undersea exploits.

The Tech Museum is a commercial site that celebrates technology. There are a number of interesting exhibits in the online museum, such as this one about robotics.

Technological Developments from 1800 to 1914 — I’ve mentioned before the excellent online reference Bartleby.com. One of the many sources available is the World History Encyclopedia which includes a useful list of Technological Developments from 1800 to 1914.

TotallyAbsurd.com provides descriptions of some outré U.S. patents.

An article in Wired magazine from 1999 entitled “The Undead” discusses the fascinating persistence of punchcard technology in business computers. And here’s an article from Columbia University on Herman Hollerith, a Columbia alum who utilized punchcard technology to streamline the U.S. Census of 1890, making a huge contribution to the future of computing.

Vickers Airship Catalog — When you're out shopping for an airship, Vickers is your man. Provided by Marcus Rowland on his Forgotten Futures site (and on the CD).

Zeppelin Library — Great airshipsful of information regarding these gentle giants, including photographs and complete statistics.