Topic: inventions

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A Visual History of Light, animated

400,000 years ago, humans and Neanderthals created fire. This ignited a relationship between people and photons that changed the course of mankind—and continues to evolve to this day. Take a tour through the visual hi...

Introducing the Dial Telephone, films from 1936 & 1954

Have you ever heard a dial tone or a busy signal? How did we call someone before speed dial and push-button telephones, but after people stopped needing to speak with a switchboard operator? Behold the rotary dial: ...

The playful wonderland behind great inventions

Music boxes, automatons, harpsichords, typewriters, flutes, fabric-making machines, modern computers. Explore the playful wonderland behind these great inventions from around the globe, the unnecessary but delightful ...

Fungus: The Plastic of the Future

In 2014, Ecovative Designs was working to combine mycelium with local crop waste to make a compostable biomaterial for packaging, and continue to expand their efforts. One example: A collaboration with Netherlands-bas...

Building a prosthetic arm with parts from a LEGO Technic Air Race Jet

David Aguilar has built with LEGO since he was a kid. At nine years old, he built a prosthetic LEGO arm to augment his underdeveloped right arm, but the LEGO pieces weren't strong enough to meet the needs of his desig...

The Exhale Bionic Chandelier: Microorganism-filled ‘leaves’ that ‘breathe’

An air purifier, an art object, and a piece of lighting design all in one living, 'breathing' chandelier. This is London-based inventor and bioengineer Julian Melchiorri's Exhale Bionic Chandelier, a microorganism-fil...

Magnetic fields make this tiny robot roll, jump, swim, and wriggle

This very small elastic strip is a robot that can walk, roll, jump, swim, and wriggle like a worm. Infused with magnetic particles, it responds to the strength and direction of magnetic fields surrounding it. As scien...

LEGO Mindstorm mecanum wheel vehicles by Yoshihito Isogawa

Mecanum wheels, also known as Ilon wheels for their inventor Bengt Erland Ilon, are wheels designed to move a vehicle in any direction. Japanese pro LEGO builder Yoshihito Isogawa has been building vehicles with diffe...

The Courage To Invent: A NASA Roboticist Tells Her Story

When educator, researcher, and innovator Dr. Ayanna Howard was a kid, she decided that she wanted to invent robots. When she grew up, she made that dream come true with a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and a job at N...

Cycling, a LEGO Technic creation by Yoshihito Isogawa

A round yellow track made from LEGO's circular gear rack, also referred to as four 'banana' gears, spins as a bicycle rider rides inside of it. This cycling creation was built by Japanese pro LEGO builder Yoshihito Is...

Lisa Winter, Robot Builder

When Lisa was 10, she built Doughboy, her first robot. For her, it’s all in the family — her father’s a robot builder and her mother collects them. But she really got hooked when her father came home from a Robots War...

Henry Fox Talbot, the First Photographs, and the Pioneers of Photography

The invention of the photograph, in 1839, would forever change the way people looked at the world. But this extraordinary breakthrough cannot be credited to a single individual—while William Henry Fox Talbot labored q...

Atlas robot jumps and backflips

The last time we saw Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot, it was lifting boxes and being shoved around, a demonstration of its increasingly strong balancing technologies. In the video above, Atlas shows off its stunning jump...

How A Children’s Toy Led To An Essential Medical Device

"We were out in a primary health center talking to health care workers [in Uganda] and we found a centrifuge used as a doorstop because there's no electricity." The workers said that they really needed a powerful cent...

The Glass Armonica, Benjamin Franklin’s 1761 invention

The glass armonica is truly one of the strangest musical instruments in the world. Invented by founding father Benjamin Franklin, the concept is the same as rubbing the tip of your finger around a wine glass to make a...

How a failed invention lead to a potentially life-saving new idea

Inventor Hahna Alexander spent years developing an idea that people said they really liked: Shoes that generate power as you walk, making it possible to charge a battery with them. But after starting a company and tes...

How to make a Pumpkin Piano (using a Makey Makey)

How do you make a piano out of pumpkins? In this autumnal video, Maddie Moate and Greg Foot create a pumpkin piano with the help of a Makey Makey plug, clip, and play invention kit. We also get a quick tutorial about ...

Wooden domino row building machine

I first built a domino row building machine of this type in 1985 out of Lego, then built it again from memory in 2009 to make a video of it. The machine works by pushing a magazine full of dominoes forward along the t...

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