Archive for the ‘science’ Category

Recreation for Geniuses

Published November 24, 2009 by Molly

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Really, it’s no surprise that the 1800s produced people like Rimbaud, Tesla, Freud and Darwin. When those guys were kids, they weren’t messing around with portable gaming consoles or mini-robots or NERF guns designed to look like semi-automatics.

Nope. They were doing stuff with balls, hoops and sticks that we probably can’t even imagine. When you consider the creativity and determination it takes to entertain oneself with a stick for, say, fifteen, years, it suddenly becomes easy to see how things like experimenting and making discoveries would be child’s play as an adult.

Not saying we can recapture the magic of boredom in these fast-paced modern days, but it’s worth a try. Start with a sock monkey and work your way up to a spinning top. If that works out, considering graduating to a balsa plane or (whoa) some Lincoln Logs.

Cup O’ Color

Published November 13, 2009 by Molly

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We’d all agree that the worst part of being a baby is the color-blindness. Fact: cones don’t begin functioning until a baby is 4 months old, which means that the world before that time is sadly rainbow-free.

It follows that as a color-seeing grown-up human we should take full advantage of our abilities and surround ourselves with interesting hues. Take Pantone, for example— the company that calls itself “the global authority on color”— which started in 1962 as a manufacturer of color cards for cosmetics companies. When Pantone recently branched out into the world of everyday goods with a collection of mugs and espresso cups— each reproducing a classic hue like 3395 C SPEARMINT or 520 C GRAPE— it gave coffee-drinkers one more way to saturate their lives with bright hues. Yet another reason to be glad we’re not babies.

Science Toy Report

Published November 9, 2009 by Molly

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There’s something seductive about toys that have to forcefully announce that they are NON-TOXIC. Such is the allure of the Amazing Do-It-Yourself Magic Tree—which, indeed, is a distant cousin of the Magic Garden.

This delightfully bizarre toy involves assembling a cardboard Christmas tree (complete with faux cranberry garland, glitter and gold tree-topper ornament) and squeezing an included “mystery liquid” into the base. In six hours a vibrant chemical fuzz will spread across the branches, replicating the appearance of a healthy Douglas fir. Voila: an economical and festive decoration in less than 360 minutes.

Finally, a culmination of our interests in chemistry, DIY, and the holiday spirit. Next up: Magic Menorahs!

Magic Garden

Published October 22, 2009 by Molly

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Remember these guys? They’re like the equivalent of Transformers for individuals with a softer, more fanciful imagination.

Those with sharp memories will recall that the Magic Garden kits included little cardboard cutouts of mountains, trees and grass (treated with a mysterious solution) that you could set up on a tray. After dousing the cardboard with magical liquid, bright blooms began to grow. Soon you had a fuzzy Japanese garden, complete with nuclear-pink cherry blossoms, acid-green grass and a snowy mountain peak. Now it reminds us simultaneously of The Point!, cotton candy, toxic waste and clown hair. Awesome.

3D Doodle Kit

Published October 21, 2009 by Molly

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There’s a reason why everyone in 4th grade math doodled cubes, barns and bubbly letters: creating the illusion of 3-dimensional objects satisfies some basic human urge. There is probably an evolutionary cause for it––some sort of adaptive benefit obtained from cool shading techniques and eye-popping shapes. For now, we’ll just call it fun.

Luckily, the feeling of sketching a sweet 3D shooting star can be recaptured. Not only recaptured, in fact, but improved upon! These days you can get 3D drawing kits that include a pad of stereoscopic graph paper (intersecting red and blue lines) and 3D glasses. It works like this: first, you sketch with a regular black pen. Then you put on the glasses. The filters in the 3D specs allow each eye to see only the opposite color on the graph paper, and as the brain melds the two images together our focal point is pushed backwards. Voila: the illusion of depth. Really, it never gets old.

Discovery: Mythical Monsters

Published October 16, 2009 by Molly

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Interested in mythical monsters? Check out this reference volume from 1886, newly available in glorious totality on the interwebs.

In Mythical Monsters, author Charles Gould argues that “many of the so-called mythical animals, which throughout long ages and in all nations have been fertile subjects of fact and fiction,” are actually creatures that “really once existed, and of which, unfortunately, only imperfect and inaccurate descriptions have filtered down to us, probably very much refracted, through the mists of time.”

Those damn mists, always obscuring the truth. At any rate, Gould sets the record straight with hi informative chapters on such phenomena as dragons, unicorns, sea serpents and the Chinese Phoenix. Old-school illustrations provide visuals for the monsters, and digressions into Peruvian Indian tribes and electric telegrams supply entertainment for those with woefully low attention spans.

Bombs Away

Published October 13, 2009 by Molly

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Soap is for wimps. We can all agree on this, no? The only acceptable body-cleaning agents are those that fizz, explode, or resemble fireworks in some way. Which is why we find these things very agreeable.

These are hygienic tools that even Max (and MAYBE a wild thing) could get behind. They resemble golf balls, giant blueberries or Uranus (ha-ha), depending on the scent, and the best part of all is that they literally erupt when placed in water.

Ka-boom!

Lite Brite Neon

Published September 28, 2009 by Molly

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Lite Brite Neon is a South Brooklyn-based neon studio that uses neon tubes to produce candelabras, skulls, lobsters, chandeliers, and versions of the Brooklyn Bridge and New York Public Library (see below), among other radiant objects. Clever, right?

Also classic. The process of manufacturing neon lights hasn’t evolved much since its invention in the late 19th century. Glass is heated and manipulated into the desired shape, then filled with gas and reheated to yield its signature hyper-bright color. It’s a difficult and an expensive process to carry out, and the artists at Lite Brite Neon can safely be called masters of the craft.

Also? Time Out described the workshop as “arguably the neon king of New York”, which is maybe the best description any business could hope to achieve.

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What Max’s World Smells Like

Published September 23, 2009 by Molly

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Now that we’ve covered the question of what the wild things smell like, we turn our attention to another crucial point of odorific reference: Max.

We’ve already bemoaned the fact that theaters can’t provide accompanying “smell soundtracks” to films. There’s nothing that would make the movie-viewing experience more vivid than waves of powerful corresponding scents. Just imagine smelling the warm supper to which Max returns after his odyssey! It would be totally transformative.

Anyhow, if this were possible, Max would probably be best summoned by the scents of books (to signify the doldrums that he’s destined to escape), the smell of crayons (a whiff of creative boldness with the appealing potential for vandalism) and a slight trail of Golden Delicious apple perfume, as a reminder that good things await the adventurer at home.

Technology: make it happen!

For Tiny Little Wild Things

Published September 18, 2009 by Molly

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Haven’t you always wanted to cuddle with a tree? We’re nuts about these pillows, which are knitted to resemble Cottonwood trees that have been nibbled down by beavers. Just imagine how satisfying it would be to construct a giant log cabin fort out of them: so satisfying.

What an adorable way to bring nature indoors!