How Sci-Fi Shaped the Past, and Shapes the Future

"Anything one man can imagine, another man can make real..." Science fiction has quite a lot to do with the way we live now, having directly driven much scientific and technological progress around the world for at least the last 150 years. One might ask how or why, and the answer is very simple: sci-fi …

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Monday at the Museum: 14 X-planes at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

The "X" classification in research and development simply marks an invention's current use as "experimental." Some such inventions make it beyond that stage; the majority of those that follow did not. Whatever their contributions to aeronautics in the United States, these X-planes can be appreciated for their interesting designs. 1. The Avrocar Actually Canadian in …

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On the Radar: NASA’s Infamous “Gimbal Rig”

This image shows NASA's Gimbal Rig in motion. NASA used this device to test Mercury astronauts' ability to recover from disorientation that resulted from up to 30 RPM in simultaneous roll, pitch, and yaw. The astronauts had to reset their mock instruments after--and sometimes during--the exercise to prove they could control the craft in tumble …

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Nintendo: Rise of a Gaming Generation

Before video games--before board games, for that matter--there were playing cards.  Though a fixture of China's entertainment scene since the 10th century, playing cards did not reach isolationist Japan until the Portuguese introduced them in the 16th century. The shogunate at the time banned the cards but as times and dynasties changed, the powers that …

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On the Radar: The Massive Soviet Lun-Class “Ekranoplan”

This "Ekranoplan" looks like part-plane, part-ship. In reality, it's what one would call a "ground effect vehicle," which uses the ground effect concept to "fly" seriously low over ground or, more commonly, water. Though Russia retired this particular vehicle, the country has plans to develop similar military crafts very soon, armed with cruise missiles. Watch …

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On the Radar: The First Animation Showing a Horse “Hovers” During Its Run

As recently as the late-1800s, people had no idea how horses ran. To the general public's astonishment, Eadweard Muybridge revealed that at a point during a single "revolution," all of a horse's four legs hover over the ground. This was demonstrated through stop-motion photography, which has been animated here. Muybridge made an animated projection of …

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