A Giant Magellan Telescope Needs Giant Mirrors

The Giant Magellan Telescope doesn’t seem so giant in the renderings, until you see how the mirrors are made.

The telescope will require seven total mirrors each 27 feet (8.4 meters) in diameter for a total combined diameter of 24.5 meters. Half of an Olympic size pool’s length. A little over four times the diameter of the James Webb Space Telescope.

According to the website, the mirrors are cast at the University of Arizona mirror lab and take four years each to make. They’re made from blocks of Japanese glass laid out in a giant oven. The whole process of casting the glass takes a year, from laying it out to the months of cooling, it’s a painstaking process.

Once the cooling is done there’s another three years of polishing to get the mirror just right. If you’ve ever had to set up a metal block for precision machining on a mill, you might have an idea of why this takes so long. Especially if you make that block a few tons of glass and the surface has to be ground to micron tolerances. A lot of clever engineering went into this, including, no joke, a custom grinding tool full of silly putty. Though, at its core it’s not much different from smaller lens making processes.

The telescope is expected to be finished in 2024, for more information on the mirror process there’s a nice article here.

Enlarged Miniature Forklift

How do you classify something that is gigantic and miniature at the same time? LEGO kit 850, from 1977 when it was known as an Expert Builder set, was 210 modular blocks meant to be transformed into a forklift nearly 140mm tall. [Matt Denton] scaled up the miniature pieces but it still produced a smaller-than-life forklift. This is somewhere in the creamy middle because his eight-year-old nephew can sit on it but most adults would demolish their self-esteem if they attempted the same feat.

[Matt] has been seen before building these modular sets from enlarged LEGO blocks, like his Quintuple-Sized Go-Kart. He seems to have chosen the same scale for the pieces and who wouldn’t? If you’re printing yourself a ton of LEGO blocks, it just makes sense to keep them all compatible. Isn’t combing all your sets into one mishmash the point after all? We’ll see what his nephew/co-host constructs after his uncle [Matt] leaves.

In the time-lapse video after the break, you can see how the kit goes together as easily as you would hope from home-made bricks. With that kind of repeatability and a second successful project, it’s safe to say his technique is solid and this opens the door to over-sized projects to which LEGO hasn’t published instructions.

Hackaday is bursting with LEGO projects, K’Nex projects, and even Erector set projects.

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Needs more LEDs, EMSL biggified Conway’s Game of Life

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories has proven bigger is better with their colossal LED table running Conway’s Game of Life. At the heart of the system is 44 ATmega164Ps controlling 352 LEDs on a 32×44 inch table; and to make it interactive IR LEDs detect the presence of objects.

The display is set up as an exhibit at the San Jose Museum of Art in tribute to [Leo Villareal]. To see a demo, catch a video after the divide.

Related: Colossal LED tables, and Conway’s Game of Life. Why has it taken so long to combine them?

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Monster Chess

Over 100,000 Lego pieces, 4 people a year to create, and a 12 foot by 12 foot chess board make this the largest most awesome Lego hack we’ve ever seen. Take that Lego Printer.

For a mere $30,000 you too can have such a setup. Not a lot of information is out yet, but we do know all the pieces are remote controlled via a PC with LabVIEW and a total of 38 NXT controllers are used. Oh, and of course you can see it live at the 2010 Brickworld. Check out a video of a replayed game after the jump.

[via Geekologie]

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