Sunday, December 20, 2009


Wadizit? (View 1)

Wadizit? (View 2)
If you have an idea what the item in these pictures is, post it as a comment or email me an answer at First one with a correct answer (judged by me, before midnight, Copenhagen time, 31 December 2009) will receive a gift certificate from Amazon worth $25 US (assuming there is a practical way for the winner to receive it).
Hint: it isn't a cooking appliance or an early prototype of a lunar lander.


Blogger La vita Alessandria said...

Steve: I think it's some type of camera--to take very close up pictures of things like carbohydrates....Rachel

December 20, 2009 at 10:34 AM  
Blogger Zalman Paktorovics said...

Nice imaginative try, Rachel, but a no go. The contest is still open....

December 21, 2009 at 8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sure looks like something you would have dragged from Boston to Seattle, then to SF and Athens, and put in storage in NH where it sat until you had to unstore it for Copenhagen- maybe even from your high school days in Queens via Brooklyn Tech. Oh, wait a minute, it's coming to me...maybe it's from your hallucinogenic days at Lever Brothers in NJ! Is it a small washing machine they allowed you to take home to study the cleaning effects of various laundry detergents on, say, your underwear(since you were likely too out of it to stay awake during work...)?? Ex-wives' minds work in mysterious ways...what can I say?

December 21, 2009 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger Zalman Paktorovics said...

Another nice story...but wrong again. For the record, people, the "small washing machine" we used at Lever Brothers R&D was actually an array of 4 stainless-steel buckets, each with its own electric-powered agitator, all warmed by a single multi-gallon water bath, so several sets of washes could be run simultaneously under identical conditions. The "Terg-o-tometer" (I'm not making this up, they still make these things, and that's what they are still called) stood at hip level on four reinforced steel legs. The support frame was the perfect size for an eraser-hockey goal mouth, which is what we used it for whenever we got bored and none of our supervisors were around.

In other words, it's not likely anyone would take one home, let alone lug it around the world. It is somewhat unfortunate that the modern designs--while they appear more robust, generally array 6-8 buckets, and are armed with a variety of digital controls and readouts--don't appear to lend themselves to any healthy sports activity.

& Also for the record, we never used these things to wash our underwear--that would have made for very uncontrolled experimentation. We always used numbered batches of standardized "VCD" (vacuum cleaner dust) cloth swatches, whose reflectance was carefully measured before and after washing and drying, and the results treated with rigorous statistics. We're talking about science, after all!

& I only fell asleep once during my 4 years at Lever Brothers--that was the morning after my first acid trip, which kept me up all night and was still going strong when I got to work at 9 AM. I crashed around 10, and passed out at my desk 15 minutes later. Since then I've made sure never to trip except on weekends or during periods of extended unemployment.

& The contest is still open.

December 23, 2009 at 5:58 AM  
Anonymous Jeanne said...

Distilling ore humidifying. Two weak guesses wrapped into a weaker sentence.

Happy holidays. I remember your description of last year's Christmas dinner. I hope you enjoy one this year as well.

December 24, 2009 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger Zalman Paktorovics said...

Hi Jeanne. I hope you're having a great holiday season! Yes, I did go back last night to Henrik and Ulla's for another great Christmas dinner. I got home at 2 AM so stuffed I'm ashamed to have thought for a second about eating breakfast this morning. I decided to go with a single banana and a double latte until this evening....

Sorry to say your guesses are off the mark, although not unreasonable. The contest is still open.

December 25, 2009 at 4:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bike pump.

or waffle iron.


December 25, 2009 at 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry not waffle iron, not a kitchen appliance. dry ice machine.

December 25, 2009 at 9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, now Kim and I are guessing an air clean the air of that cigarette when it gets smoked...

December 25, 2009 at 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Mike Barnett said...


December 26, 2009 at 9:03 AM  
Blogger Zalman Paktorovics said...

Heavy, Mike! Yes, it seems to be an early version of a high speed laboratory "microfuge". I'm still trying to figure out how old it is, but it belongs in a museum. More on this later. Thank you all for trying, but Mike gets the prize, contest closed.

December 27, 2009 at 2:35 PM  

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