It’s Friday, do you really want me to make you think? Instead, I bring you a “90 degree index ratchet,” realized in LEGO in what I gather was a single evening by Dan Zimmerman. Dan is a physicist at the University of Maryland whose day job is building a 30-ton sphere filled with liquid sodium that may or may not spontaneously generate a magnetic field like Earth’s.
Dan got the design for this ratchet from a book first published in 1930, Ingenious Mechanisms for Designer and Inventors.
There was a time before computers and the Internet that budding geeks who wanted to “program” in any sense of the word were limited to physical computers. Mechanisms like this one have the added benefit of affecting the material world rather than just someone’s eyeballs, so we called it mechanical engineering, revolutionized industrial production and only later started taking it for granted enough to ship it overseas.
Dan has also built an upright bass out of LEGOs. It even has a nice sound.
10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024
Every year, we look for promising technologies poised to have a real impact on the world. Here are the advances that we think matter most right now.
Scientists are finding signals of long covid in blood. They could lead to new treatments.
Faults in a certain part of the immune system might be at the root of some long covid cases, new research suggests.
AI for everything: 10 Breakthrough Technologies 2024
Generative AI tools like ChatGPT reached mass adoption in record time, and reset the course of an entire industry.
What’s next for AI in 2024
Our writers look at the four hot trends to watch out for this year
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.