Links We Like: Space Auctions, Scientific Glassblowing, & Iconifying All the Things

Flown space navigation indicator via Bonhams

Gently used space navigation equipment via Bonhams

This week’s Links We Like explore the world of Space history auctions, appreciate the art of scientific glassblowing, and survey what it looks like to iconify all the nouns.

Last week’s post resulted in a few movie recommendations, including yeti’s suggestion of the John Carpenter movie, Dark Star. As always, make sure to share with us the links you’re reading. Have a great long weekend! ᕕ(⌐■_■)ᕗ ♪♬

Bidding on Space History

Original Gemmi training assembly via Bonhams

Original Gemmi training assembly via Bonhams

This year is the 47th anniversary of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission. For non-space exploration nuts, this is the mission where Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins went to the moon. You know, the one where Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Cast hands for sizing gloves via Bonhams

Cast hands for sizing gloves via Bonhams

To celebrate the anniversary Bonhams –the storied British auction house– has assembled a collection of objects from the Apollo 11 period of NASA and artifacts from the 1957 Soviet Sputnik program (the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth). There are also a bunch of other space related pariphenalia such as photos, patches, and minature vehicle models in the auction.

NASA flight simulation chair via Bonhams

NASA flight simulation chair via Bonhams

There are also weird items. Take the set of cast astronaut hands you can bid on or the surprisingly utilitarian NASA flight simulation chair. No question that chair isn’t gonna be cheap, but you can be sure some fan of space exploration is going to pay good money for it!

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Almost all of the items up for auction are too pricey for most personal budgets. The voyage-worn spacesuit above is estimated at $25,000-35,000! But the large price tags don’t mean you can’t enjoy the auction catalog PDF (warning, large download) or even order a print copy of it. The layout is stunning and each item has a blurb explaining basic facts about the object.

What’s your favorite item up for auction?


The Art of Scientific Glassblowing

Rick Gerhart blowing glass bound for an experiment (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Rick Gerhart blowing glass bound for an experiment (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Unless you run a Fortune 500 company, are a famous celebrity, or a beloved athlete, most newspapers will not write about your retirement. Rick Gerhart is none of these. But he is elite. He’s one of the best scientific glassblower in the world.

Scientific glassblowing is the art of creating the tubes, beakers, a glass contraptions that are used in experiments. It’s a vital part of the scientific endeavor, it’s just not often talked about. WNPR has a nice video covering the field which is embedded below.

Recently, the LA Times ran a story about Gerhart’s retirement from being the sole scientific glassblower for CalTech. For over 23 years he has been working with professors and students to create specialized glass containers for their experiments. Experiments that would not be possible without his handmade glassware.

As glassblowers retire, there is a real concern about finding replacements. Salem Community College in New Jersey is the only school in the nation that teaches scientific glassblowing. On an average year they graduate 20 students. Even if this number increase –which the college projects that it will– these students will fill entry level positions, not those vacated by veterans like Gerhart.


Iconify All the Nouns

Search results for "chip" from The Noun Project

Search results for “chip” from The Noun Project

Imagine a world where every object, every single thing has a pictorial representation. That’s exactly what The Noun Project is aiming to accomplish. It’s easy to get lost in the massive number of icons. There’s always just one more set to peruse.

Apart from searching for “chip”, I’ve found it interesting to search for adjectives like pink and blue. Results range from what you’d expect, to ones that you’d absolutely wouldn’t. Pink yields flamingo icons and blue results in nautical themes.

When you need a break from browsing, try the blog. Articles range from interviews to explorations of icon collections focused on a single theme. There’s so much material to explore on this site, you’re sure to lose more than a lunch break browsing it all.


Have a great weekend, make sure to share any interesting links you find with us in the forums. And while you’re sharing, don’t forget to mention your favorite item up for auction and icon that you’ve discovered.

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