If you’ve visited a Costco lately, you might have seen some chairs made from Polywood, a durable material produced by chopping up and melting down plastic, then extruding it into a weight-bearing and weatherproof lumber for making furniture. Popular Mechanics takes us inside the Polywood factory to see how they do it.
John Heisz wanted a place to store some of the tools and other items that didn’t have a home in his shop. So he created a wall-mounted cabinet that provides cubbies, drawers, and a work surface on top. He built it from scrap plywood and wood from previous projects. That gizmo in the upper left is a twin-screw vise John also made.
The Foo Fighters’ tune Everlong is damned near perfect the way it was recorded back in 1997. But if you slow it down to just the right speed, it might even be better. Maybe it’s just that we get to enjoy the song a little longer, but ARK’s speed-adjusted version of the track is simply stellar.
The sounds you hear in movies can dramatically enhance what you see on screen. But other than dialogue, most movie audio isn’t created on the soundstage, it’s added in post-production by foley artists and sound editors. Paul E.T. explores the importance of sound effects, music, and speech in filmmaking.
With its mix of stir-fried noodles, protein, peanuts, veggies, and zesty condiments, pad thai is one delicious dish. Mental Floss series Food History delves into the relatively short history of the popular dish. While it was touted as Thailand’s national dish, its ingredients and origins came from other countries.
ChatGPT and other AI tech have been in the news a lot these days. This fascinating short film from Private Island explores the implications of trusting artificial intelligence to solve problems for us. After tasking ChatGPT with improving diversity in the workplace, we’re exposed to some disturbing biases in the AI’s training data.
On a normal bicycle, the drivetrain only engages when you pedal forward. Move your feet backward, and the rear axle freewheels. But BigWR likes to build unusual bike mods, and created a unique gear and chain configuration that moves the bike forward whether pedaling forward or backward.
With the right lens curvature, it’s possible to project an image that’s not visible until light shines through it. Science educator Steve Mould explains the optical and mathematical properties of these uniquely engineered lenses. A similar effect can be created with mirrors and reflected light. Rayform specializes in the technique.
What you’re looking at is a tiny fire extinguisher called an E-Bulb. Designed to work in small, enclosed spaces, it can be installed inside electronics to prevent a fire from spreading. It works like a fuse and can stop the flow of electricity as well. The Slow Mo Guys captured footage of the invention at speeds up to 150,000 fps.
The buttons on our clothing are one of those things we take for granted. But it’s somebody’s job to make them for us. All of World Process takes us inside of a factory that cranks out buttons by the thousands. They pour liquid plastic into tubes or sheets, slice or cut out button shapes, then drill and tumble them until shiny.
Boston Dynamics’ ATLAS robot continues to amass new skills. We’ve seen how agile the bipedal automaton has become; now ATLAS has grippers, so it can pick up objects while walking and performing acrobatics. This demo video shows off some of the ‘bot’s newfound capabilities as it helps out on the job site – and does it with swagger.
It’s time to swim with the fishes. Ace Underwater put a GoPro on a fishing line and lowered it beneath Florida’s Navarre Beach fishing pier. After exploring the shallow waters for a few minutes, he headed to the end of the pier, dropped some bait, and recorded the feeding frenzy.
Stressed out? Put on your headphones, press play on this video, and expand it to full screen. Project JDM created this digital music box that plays notes as its dots bounce back and forth along rainbow-colored arcs. As the hypnotic visual patterns evolve, so do the soothing sounds, traveling from ear to ear.
Is a pricey kitchen knife stronger than a cheap one? The Hydraulic Press Channel conducted the ultimate knife-on-knife battle, pressing blades against each other to see which cuts deeper. Which knife will reign supreme? We love how he says, “don’t try this at home,” as if we all have a 150-ton hydraulic press lying around.
Located in Playas de Rosarito Centro, Mexico, the Straw Art Gallery specializes in portraits created by placing thousands of tiny pieces of naturally dyed broom grass into beeswax. We won’t spoil the subject of this particular work, so you’ll have to hit play to see the finished product.
King Process takes us inside a Korean factory that makes large industrial nuts. The process starts with rods of steel, which they heat in a forge, then use machines to shape the molten metal into hexagons, punch holes into them, and tap screw threads after cooling and polishing. If you need some bolts to go with, here you go.
New Zealand’s Wētā Workshop takes us behind the scenes to look at the incredible costume work that went into Avatar: The Way of Water. The outfits took an average of 200 hours each to create, and artists applied over a million beads. Each real-world costume was then digitized for use on CGI character models.
Blake McFarland is no stranger to making sculptures of animals. He was recently commissioned to build his largest work yet, a life-size bison for the Henry Vilas Zoo. He started by welding the beast’s horns from stainless steel, then used a foam taxidermy form, spray foam, and fiberglass as the structure for its bike tire “fur.”
Derealisation is a psychological condition that can cause individuals to feel disconnected and distant and may result in a distorted perception of the world around them. This trippy short film by Panoply attempts to capture that sense through a surreal sequence of images that play out in photorealistic environments.
Kinetic sculpture maker JBV Creative shows off one of his coolest builds yet, a machine that creates a sine wave motion as ball bearings roll along its horseshoe-shaped ribs. He sells an STL template for 3D printing your own, along with a detailed assembly video. He’s also made a version that’s twice as long.
The members of the United States Army Band performed this great medley of tracks from the Foo Fighters, including grand cover versions of Times Like These, Walk, Learn to Fly, and My Hero.. The string, brass, and timpani sections add a new dimension to these rock hits.
This satisfying compilation video from Food Kingdom takes us on a tour of five factories in Korea that make different kinds of foods. We start off with rainbow-colored cake layers, followed by corn chip snacks, deep-fried and stuffed tofu pouches, chocolate nut mini brownies, and chocolate cakes. We’re so hungry now.
We’re not quite at the point where AI software like Midjourney and DALL-E 2 can generate entire movies, but they could certainly be used to storyboard one. Boriss used generative image processing to imagine scenes from a non-existent 1980s sci-fi movie that could have stood alongside The Terminator and Robocop.
Mashup maven Bill McClintock combined two highly-incompatible songs into one, amalgamating Wham!’s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go and Black Sabbath’s Children of the Grave, thus forming a new band called “Blam!” He snuck in a sweet guitar solo from Eddie Van Halen too.
While Avatar: The Way of Water shot its underwater scenes by training actors to hold their breath, there are lots of other tricks that moviemakers use to create the illusion of underwater action. Insider explores some of the visual effects techniques – both practical and digital which bring underwater scenes to life.
After seeing Top Gun: Maverick, model maker Boylei Hobby Time wanted to make a diorama inspired by one of the movie’s big action sequences. While he found a 1:144-scale model of the soviet gunship helicopter, he couldn’t find one of an F-18 fighter jet a the same time, so he decided to swap in an X-Wing from Star Wars.