Author Archive: Will

The Hidden Screws of Precision (and why the delay in new videos)

This is one of those videos that I’ve wanted to make for a long time but felt that I had to build upon the ones that came before it first. Usually screws are thought of just as fasteners, but what about their role in precision? Without the screw as an easy way to magnify movement so careful measurement could be taken precision would be far harder and more expensive to come by. It’s one of the most important uses of screws, but one that almost no one talks about.

For me this video represents something even more important though. I was working on this as my wife was in the latter part of her pregnancy. I was rushing to get it done before we left for the hospital to be induced while also trying to keep the quality high. I just barely made it! I uploaded this video and hit ‘publish’ the day before we went into the hospital and, given all of the necessary prep, essentially at the last minute!

I knew if I waited even one day longer it wouldn’t be a day, but weeks or maybe even months before I would have free time (and sanity). The next day she gave birth to a beautiful daughter that has lit up our lives in ways we had not imagined possible.

This is our first child and in the 7 months since this was published I still feel like I haven’t fully recovered from the immense amount of time squeeze a child and full time job put on a couple, regardless of the joys a child brings.

I am working on new videos though and trying to find ways to make them faster. I just don’t have huge blocks of free time any more. This is still my passion though and I do little bits where I can to move the project forward.

Thanks for understanding and know that I’m still here ūüėÄ

The Screws of Disruption

This video is another alternate take on screws – the ones at the center of the early style printing presses that industrialized printing and completely reformatted our brains and the world. The screw was incredibly important to these early machines as they allowed the force of the printer to be multiplied enough to print an entire page at once. This reduced to seconds what used to take a scribe writing by hand most of a day. Vast increases in efficiency in any industry can be disruptive, but when it’s in mass communication the ripples of change are not ripples at all, but tsunami waves which are still crashing ashore today.

Patreon launched!

I love making the content for the YouTube channel but it takes a shocking amount of work to get these out the door. I’ve launched a Patreon to help offset hiring some people to work with me to do this faster. I’ve already found a Video Producer who is helping me structure these in a way to make them faster and easier to complete.

There are several reward levels with interesting additional content, but I will also occasionally post content that’s free for everyone to view so even if you don’t intend to sign up you still may catch something cool!

Also, the main channel content will always be freely available so no worries if you just want to enjoy that.

If you want to have a look, check out patreon.com/machinethinking

[No longer needed!] Please help me render faster

Edit: After many months of leaving a couple of videos cards rendering full time (plus some help from some of you!) I now have more points than I will need for the foreseeable future. Thanks!!

I’m deep into the next video and I’m at the stage where I am doing the animation renders. These are very slow and can run for hours or days for several seconds of footage.

I’m using a free render farm service called Sheep It, which is a distributed render service where you run a client and render other people’s frames and gain points for doing so, then you can spend those points getting your renders done much faster later.

You can help by running a client but using my render key so I collect the points.

You can download the client here for Windows, Mac and Linux: https://www.sheepit-renderfarm.com/getstarted.php

When you launch the client use these credentials:

username: machinethinking

password: Nshg0797ql6VCsQ4v40mdlRX37wD10oi7zjTDhHj

The password isn’t exactly a password, but it will mean that credit you earn will go to me so I can speed up my renders. As a bonus, if I start rendering a job while your client is running, it will render just my frames which will make my render faster no matter where I am in the queue!

Even a few hours here and there will help, thanks!

Expert Reviewers needed

As always, I’m working on the research on many different future videos. The fact checking is always a very slow part and easy to get wrong unless I find people with the right expertise to help. I have a researcher I’m working with for the heavy lifting, but if you have reasonable expert knowledge in any of the below fields I’d love to send you a review link when the video is partially done for your review and commentary. This will help ensure the videos are as accurate and fair as possible.

If you think you can help, please use the Contact link at the top of the page to get in touch with me. Please let me know your area of expertise and I’ll be in touch shortly.

Any of these subjects roughly 0 AD to the present. This list is not complete – anything similar please email.

Economics

Military history

Greco-Roman period

Arab scientific and engineering contributions

Mathematics

Capitalism (including historic Trade)

Religion, particularly Christianity through Vatican II

Railroads

Firearms

City history (primarily US and European, including Istanbul)

Engineering (especially Mechanical, but optics and others very welcome)

Science

French Revolution

Art

Farming

Architecture

Not dead yet

It’s pretty sad but it seems about half of the comments on my videos lately are asking if I’m ok and checking in that I’m still in good health. The answer is thankfully yes, though Life things have come up and I did end up spending a lot of time this last year not working directly on videos for several unrelated but important reasons.

I am happy to say, I ALSO spent a lot of time working on videos. Several in fact. Three of them were derailed by the weird state of the world, but others are moving ahead.

However, these videos take a *tremendous* amount of time to research and make. Way more than I ever imagined and while it’s truly a joy to do and the biggest reason why I do it, I still have a different full time job so I only get to spend a few hours most days working on my videos. I often find I spend an entire evening researching one sentence I’m going to write to try and figure out what is ‘fair’ to say as I have to check many sources and try and decide which ones are ‘most’ correct (as often there are contradictions), or, as the video below says, try and find an expert to talk to which is a whole other rabbit hole. It’s really that slow.

When this video came out today, which is not mine but CGP Grey’s, the first six minutes (though I do recommend the whole thing as it later touches on other important points) sum up extremely well what the process is and all of the pitfalls. I highly recommend you check out at least that much to understand what goes on behind the scenes as it is laughably similar to what I’ve gone through. Each topic does indeed become a fractal that goes ever deeper and it’s also true the moment you publish a video every expert imaginable turns up. Still worth it though.

The latest video I’m working on has now actually split into 4 videos because there is just that much material to cover, and ever more the more I research. I’m in the final script stages now of a video that can’t be screwed up by the state of the world and other ones to follow so I hope you have something to enjoy quite soon!

And I hope you are healthy and doing well, too!

The Story of Iron

This video is “unlisted” on YouTube in that it does not show up on my channel. However, I’ve had many requests for it so I’m posting it publicly here. It does contain some very regrettable errors so please read the comments before posting your own correction. I’ve had too many teachers tell me they’ve used my videos in educational contexts to leave it on YouTube.

It was meant to be a follow up to the previous video, Iron from Sand which showed the process of making Iron from magnetite rich sand using mostly very early smelting techniques as done by the crew at The Crucible in Oakland, California. However, I didn’t want the follow up video to just be about the firepit they built from the iron they made but also to include, as I saw it, the real story of the creation of iron in massive stars. It blows my mind that every bit of iron we have was made this way, even useless bits of iron we throw away.

It was a lot of effort but unfortunately I couldn’t live with the errors being up so I pulled it. Rather than correct it I’ve decided for now to move on to other projects and I’m happy to say yes, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything but I have videos in the pipeline and I hope to have something out soon. Life sometimes gets in the way a bit but making videos, doing all the research and making relevant objects is still something I passionately love.