Did you know that the automaton featured in Scorsese's "Hugo" was based on real machines? I found this amazing. Watchmaker Henri Maillaret was one of the masters of this discipline, building fascinating and amazingly complex automatons in the early 1800s. Incredible!
In a somewhat related note: Douglas Trumbull, one of cinema's greatest living technical cinematographers (2001, Blade Runner, Close Encounters) is doing some very interesting research and development into high frame rates for playback purposes. He's building systems that will reach 120 frames a second or higher, and is trying to do so in a more cost-effective manner than existing technologies (like IMAX). The world of digital video is really just getting started...120 fps, 4K resolution, pans and zooms done in post...it's really exciting.