The best technologies are *physics hacks*.

Refrigeration works by compressing air to temporarily make it hot and reverse a temperature gradient. Airplanes trick the air below a wing into pushing the wing up by shaping airflow to reduce the pressure on top.

So much of what we call "tech" these days is just "follow a list of instructions, millions of times per second". I'm not impressed, Silicon Valley. ;)

What are some of your all's favorite physics-hack techs?

@brion Superconductors! You just send a blob of stuff to hellish conditions (which are becoming less and less so), and bam! Endless current!


- a candle works by continuously melting its own structure into a fuel source that's then pulled up the wick by capillary action, vaporized by the heat of the flame, and combusted. the amount of exposed wick is regulated by the parts that aren't offgassing vaporized wax burning away. the balance of all this is kind of astonishing.

- i don't really understand anything about sailing, but having read a patrick o'brian novel i think the age of sail was based on quite a few of these.

@brion it's only a concept but I'm quite a fan of magnetic/electric sails, in the context of space travel

"we could spin out an actual physical sail to reflect photons but we could also use a magnetic field to deflect ionised particles and plasma to get almost as good an effect with less mass used"

for current stuff, the insanity that is the internal combustion engine
it certainly has its issues, but it's tiny explosions in cylinders to make a thing spin, it's so backwards but it's wonderful

@brion three words: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

@brion The RNG wall at Cloudflare is really cool. It's a ton of lava lamps and a camera.

@brion Capillary action. If plants hadn't used this trick to defy gravity, I suppose this planet would look very different now.

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