Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
This is from BBC's "Bang Goes the Theory." I've always had an interest in the Death Ray that Archimedes built, and even attempted to build my own. This guy's setup looks like some sort of parabola that faces away from the sun. I don't know how it works, but I do know that it is AWESOME! Catch the part where he melts ROCKS! The guy says that there's nothing on Earth that can withstand the temperatures created by this thing. Ummm... Speechless.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
This article is from the NYT. Did you know that October is Catapult Month?!? I have ordered every book ever written by William Gurstelle, who is mentioned in this article, to help us with our endeavors.
Smashing Pumpkins, the Halloween Rage
Wendy Carlson for The New York Times
By AMY VIRSHUP
Published: October 21, 2010
SOME people like their pumpkins baked into pies redolent of cinnamon and nutmeg. Others like them carved into goblin faces and illuminated with candles. Me? I like them hurled at 50 miles an hour by a medieval weapon. Or perhaps shot out of an air cannon, to splatter with a satisfying “Thwock!” into brilliant orange shrapnel.
Wendy Carlson for The New York Times
I like my pumpkins chunked.
Exactly who first fired one using homemade artillery is unknown, but the reasons are pretty clear: Farmers selling pumpkins from their fields realized that the experience was somewhat lacking in drama. And while hay rides, corn mazes and petting zoos are nice, if you really want to draw a crowd, you need a little destruction.
Or, as Donald Totman of Daisi Hill Farm in Millerton, N.Y., said, “We’re doing the entertainment to sell the pumpkins.” Now on a busy weekend he’ll smash 1,000 pounds of pumpkin in the interest of moving product off the vines.
Mr. Totman started about 13 years ago with a homemade trebuchet (a version of a catapult that uses a counterweight to add force). He’s currently on his second one, made from materials lying around the farm. About six years ago he added an air cannon to his arsenal that shoots its orange ammo 1,500 feet toward an old metal tank. The pumpkins “turn into water” on impact, he said proudly. That is especially popular with the fathers in the crowd.
“It’s a man thing,” he said. “It’s a gun, it makes a big noise.”
There is a more scientific side to the pumpkin catapult phenomenon, beyond the “very satisfying splat, with pieces flying everywhere,” said Alice Stevenson, senior manager of family programs at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. Last year the Hall’s exhibits department built a 19-foot-tall metal trebuchet to demonstrate the principles of physics during Catapult Month (a k a October). Most of the time, gallon jugs of water are used for ammunition.
But who can resist using the trebuchet for pumpkins? On the 30th and 31st, the Hall will use its weapon to wreak pumpkin destruction. Bring a jack-o’-lantern — no bigger than a basketball — and you can turn it into pumpkin purée.
Catapults have become popular projects for science museums and physics classes, said William Gurstelle, a backyard artillery expert and the author, most recently, of “Absinthe & Flamethrowers.” Catapults are both accessible — “you look at a catapult and say, ‘I understand this,’ ” — and sophisticated. “There are some complicated equations to describe the motion,” he said.
For sheer pumpkin power, perhaps no event matches the World Championship Punkin Chunkin in Bridgeville, Del., which has grown from a competition with three machines and about 80 spectators in 1986 (the winning shot that year traveled 114 feet) to a three-day extravaganza of orange mayhem. Last year’s contest, with 115 teams, drew 80,000 people, said Frank Shade, director of media and promotion for the event, which raises money for charity. The winning pumpkin (well, maybe not from the pumpkin’s perspective) traveled more than 4,480 feet.
If you can’t get there in person, this year’s competition will be televised on Discovery’s Science Channel on Thanksgiving Day. But by then, as far as I’m concerned, it’s just pie.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Salve! Spartacurtus ibi!
Our Praetor, Dan spoke to us about his plans for the catapult he has been planning, and has drawn up these plans for it. We have decided to move forward with the tortion style of catapult, as this seems to be the most practical and authentic design. This is still in the conceptual phase, and if you have any comments, questions, or concerns about the design, or have anything that you would like to add, please feel free to add to the comments section down below. I will be happy to repost any important additions to a new posting, if requested!
Tibi gratias ago, Dan!