October 12, 2009
Greebles: turning ordinary polygons into futuristic technology since the dawn of televised science-fiction.
A greeble, or nurnie, is a small piece of detailing added to break up the surface of an object to add visual interest to a surface or object, particularly in movie special effects. They serve no real purpose other than to add complexity to the object, and cause the flow of the eye over the surface of the object to be interrupted, usually giving the impression of increased size.
A greeble is essentially the small detailed technical part of a larger object. The detail can be made from geometric primitives, including cylinders, cubes, and rectangles, combined to create intricate, but meaningless, surface detail. Greebles are commonly found on models or drawings of fictional spacecraft in science fiction.
From Wikipedia, via Metafilter.
There’s a character on a show I work on who wears a shiny silver helmet with some greebles on it. The greebles are made of little pieces of spaceship toys, broken apart and glued to the helmet in mostly-symmetrical patterns. Some are recognizable pieces of Happy Meal toys. I remember seeing a behind-the scenes Star Trek footage that showed how pieces of disposable razors made the pontoons on a shuttlecraft model.
By the way, haven’t razors come a long way? Goodness, technology. That razor pic is from here. But that’s not my point. My point is that this Hallowe’en you need to make sure you put Greebles on your techie-looking costume, and take your robot suit from crappy to snappy.
Greebles made it better.
April 30, 2009
In the early 1960s, a pair of Italian brothers allegedly managed to hack into Soviet and US transmissions from the first cosmonauts. For strategic reasons, some early space missions were kept secret until they were proven successful, but the Cordiglia brothers (age 20 & 23), managed to make a satellite dish that they claim picked up secret transmissions from space shuttles back to Russian & US home bases:
… on 11 April 1961, an Italian journalist working for the International Press Agency in Moscow received a tip-off that something “of immense importance” was about to happen. He called the Cordiglia brothers.
“We leapt out of bed,” said Achille, “dashed over to our receivers and began listening. Suddenly, in what was a magical moment, the hiss faded and this Russian voice emerged from very far away for a few seconds.” At that stage, no one in the West – not even the President of the United States – knew that the Russians had launched a rocket.
Russian translators were few and far between but the brothers had this covered – their younger sister was fluent in Russian. The first sentence they heard was: “The flight is proceeding normally. I feel well. The flight is normal. I am withstanding well the state of weightlessness.”
As the brothers listened, the cosmonaut experimented with zero gravity. They lost the signal as the cosmonaut prepared for re-entry while whistling a communist hymn. It was only then that President John F Kennedy was awoken at 2am to be given the news that Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space.
Fascinating article here. Cosmonauts and space missions seem very theoretical and almost like works of fiction to me: this article made them seem much more real, even if it may be an exaggeration or hoax.