One of the four beasts sang "come and see".

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

As many of you might not know I love steam. Steam power, specifically.

Steam engines represent one of the most interesting engineering developments in history as far as I'm concerned, (closely followed by the accurate mechanical clock).

Why?

When I was a kid I had a computer. Each part of it was labeled and described in a manual. I knew what it was. I understood how it worked. I could build one myself if I had the time and re$ources.

Nowadays? Hell no. Sure I can assemble the different components, but I can no longer visualize the whole entity, and I couldn't build one from scratch.

I'm amazed at youngsters (~18 yrs old) who can understand a modern PC. Me? I do, but only barely, and that is primarily because I've watched the transition: Hercules Graphics -> CGA -> VGA -> SVGA -> & etc.

Coming in cold? Right now? I'd be lost. I'm impressed (saddened? That this stuff isn't more accessible?) that people can pick up technology and understand it, without having watched the developments along the way. "Southbridge"? "Northbridge"? "APIC"?

It's the same with everything. Fixing a car engine? These days? With electronics? Hell no. My (non-existant) car breaks, I'd be fucked.

I can strip a simple engine. I could repair it if I had to. I could build a steam engine. I could, given a suitable template and collection of eye-glasses, build a mechanical clock. But computers? Modern Cars? Aeroplanes? More complex than a simple person like me can understand. And somehow I think that's a bad idea. It almost reminds me of the old Asimov stories where only computers could design new machines. People just didn't undestand them anymore.

 

So, in conclusion. I have new steam car. It works, as you can see in this adhoc video. (Randomly captured by my partner whilst I was too busy squee'ing. Excuse the quality and lack of editting. Notice too that I've removed the seats for the test drive, just to give me a safe place to pick it up without burning my fingers!)

Lets hope the rise of the machines is soon, otherwise mankind will have collectively lost all knowledge of things less advanced than hot & cold electricity and the microprocessor.

(As you can tell it is late and I've just had many beers and a beautiful curry. All is well! Thanks for reading!)

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