Category Archives: Humor

How a Device Used to Kill Humans Saved Penguins

Humans Saved Penguins By Trying to Kill Other Humans

Be honest: do you like penguins?

The answer is yes. You love penguins just like everyone else.

You’ve watched Happy Feet more times than your 11-year-old niece has sang “Let It Go” in the last 5 months. (Don’t worry, we won’t talk about how much you cried during March of the Penguins.)

Well, what would you and your penguin-loving friends say if I told you that humans placed close to 20,000 land mines  on the beaches of the Falkland Islands? Perhaps I should tell you that millions of penguins call the islands home.

Now that I’ve got your attention, let me tell you how that really isn’t as bad as it sounds. In fact, these gruesome seeds of war may have actually saved the penguins from, you guessed it, humans. The Falklands’ reputation for penguin-based conflict began with whale oil.

Whale Oil for Energy

As everyone who has completed their whale oil handbook knows, rendering whale oil requires big vats and boiling water. This posed a problem to the European whalers in the area, as the Falklands don’t possess much in the way of trees for burning. They turned to something way, way out of left field: penguins. Penguins proved to be easily caught, and even better for fire because of their own fat layers.

How Bombs Saved Penguins on the Falkland Islands.
WE ARE NOT WOOD!

Now, in the year 2014, we don’t have much use for whale oiling. We find our relentless desire for power from other places like fossil fuels, the sun, and water.

War in the Falklands

With the fossil fuel discovery, so came a reprieve from penguins being used as tuxedoed pieces of firewood. The population began to grow in numbers, again, until Argentina’s government attempted to regain control over the islands from the hands of the British.

Those two combatants are less likely than a Mike Tyson – Evander Holyfield rematch, but combine political instability in Argentina with an aggressive no-dictator policy from one Margaret Thatcher, and you’ve got a 2 month conflict over the Falkland Islands.

When the tide went out the British remained victorious, but had a large military invoice show for a fairly lackluster piece of real estate.

To make the conflict worthwhile, the Falklands became an exclusive fishing zone. Our tux-wearing bird friends also eat fish. You can see where this is going.

Competition from human counterparts dropped the penguin population from 6 million to 1 million in just 10 years. So, humans contributed to this penguin downfall, but they’ve also saved the penguins.

Humans Saved Penguins

Remember those land mines we told you about?

The Argentinians left them all over the coast of the islands as British deterrent (we’ve found George Washington does a great job, too).

Thankfully, no humans have actually died from the estimated 20,000 left. Instead, these land mines protect the islands’ penguin inhabitants. The penguins are too light to set off the incredibly dangerous explosives, while humans and the 700,000+ sheep on the island will go… um… kaboom!

So, humans, what do we have to say for ourselves? Our best animal protection efforts happen out of trying to blow the legs off of each other. Thankfully, both Argentina and Great Britain are tentative about going back for the estimated 11 billion (that’s billion with a gigantic “B”) gallons of oil there. Maybe nukes will give the penguins an even better habitat, but don’t count on it.

3D Printing: The End of Manual Labor?

Robots and other automated, mechanical beings have been a staple in science-fiction for a very long time, finding their first mentions in the ancient world. At the onset of the 21st century, however, robots became much more than an idea in a sketchbook. Robots are now a very real part of the modern world.

The world of robotics has seen its share of successes and failures (see Roomba and Asimo for examples of each, respectively). Many of the most notable applications of robots can be found on production lines: automotive, furniture, and food, to name a few. That brings us to the topic at hand, 3D printing.

Get it? (http://bit.ly/1iJOweL)

3D printing isn't, by strict definition, a form of autonomous robot, but the application of the technology is very similar to those listed above. 3D printing has the ability to completely change the world as we know it. Imagine houses, cars, guitars, furniture, or entire body parts printed at exponential rates and for a fraction of the cost. Every field from industry, to medical, to leisure would be altered by mass adoption of 3D printing.

Therein lies a (possible) dilemma.

3D printing has the possibility of putting an already weak job market into further turmoil. Manual human labor would fall to the wayside as a method of accomplishing things from days gone by. Why purchase some do-it-yourself furniture when you can by a 3D printed armchair for less than half of the price at a furniture outlet. This scenario is very possible, and approaching way faster than a hungry Roomba.

I guess my main question is this: where do we draw the line?

Looks small, but it's just the beginning of his full-scale model of 2nd century Rome. (http://bit.ly/1eqysOh)

We are a society with an astoundingly weak ability to define and maintain boundaries, especially when it comes to quality of life. 3D printing may have the ability at increasing quality of life for many, many people through ease of access and low cost, but what of men and women that earn through manual labor? When do we stop progress from becoming too overbearing?

3D printing isn't something that seems inherently evil or corrupt. There are many, varied, amazing things that 3D printing can accomplish. The capabilities that are being discovered and put to use, what seems like, every week are absolutely astonishing. But, the risk is large, too. A balance has to be found and consistently enforced between automation and manual, human accomplishment. 3D printing can, and probably will, be one of the greatest human accomplishments of the early 2000s, but it also has the possibility of being a last, fatal, 3D printed straw on the proverbial camel.

When Actor Rainn Wilson Asked Steve Spangler About the Science of Love, Things Got a Little Awkward

Actor Rainn Wilson of SoulPancake – a website where life’s big questions are debated, mixed and turned to batter – recently made a visit to the Spangler Labs. He sat down with Steve Spangler and asked about the science of love.

When Steve didn’t quite have the answer, he vamped a little and tried to answer the question the best he could…

Did you wonder why Steve and Rainn never appear together in the same shot? They each shot their part in different studios – Steve in Englewood, Colorado and Rainn in Los Angeles. Our two teams met last February at a YouTube workshop. Both The Spangler Effect and SoulPancake are part of YouTube EDU and one of the 100 original channels on YouTube.

YouTube encouraged channels to collaborate, so the masterminds behind SoulPancake and The Spangler Effect put their heads together and came up with a two-sided video that showed off each channels’ personality and style. The result was a fun interview-style parody that asked the question, “What’s the science of love?” The video is beautifully edited by our own Executive Video Producer, Bradley Mayhew.

If you enjoyed our little collaboration, please subscribe to both The Spangler Effect and SoulPancake on YouTube.

Here are a few behind the scenes photos from the shoot on our end…

 

For more information on the experiments Steve used or to purchase the kits, please visit the pages below.

Bouncing Bubbles
Are you a true bubble-ologist? Have you ever bounced a bubble? Can you squeeze a bubble? Are you a true bubble trickster? With this kit you will be able to do all of this and more! The amazing bubble concentrate makes 4 Liters (1 gallon) worth of incredible bubble solution. You will also receive some of the best bubble blowers on the market and gloves so you can actually touch and play with a bubble – AMAZING! So go ahead, mix up a batch and discover the true beauty of a bubble! Recommended for children ages 8 and up.

 

Energy Stick
The Energy Stick is the newest tool in experimenting with open and closed circuits. Completely safe to touch and handle, the Energy Stick features electrodes on each end of its 7.5″ long tube. When these electrodes are touched simultaneously, long-lasting LED lights inside the tube flash and the tube makes a noise. Release one or both of the electrodes and the flashing lights and noise stop. Do it over and over again… it works every time!

 

 

Geyser Tube
The Geyser Tube™ is a loading tube for the now famous Diet Coke geyser powered by MENTOS®. If you’ve ever tried doing the experiment, you know how difficult it can be to drop the MENTOS® into the bottle before the reaction takes off… and you’re soaking wet. The Geyser Tube will give you a perfect launch every time with time to stand back.

Attach the Geyser Tube to any bottle of soda (but diet soda works best because it’s not sticky – no sugar!)

Secure the trigger pin in place. Load the MENTOS® into the tube, lock the special pressurizing nozzle in place and pull the pin.

 

 

 

Space Phone
If you thought a string connecting two soup cans was a major form of telecommunication (or at least better than Cingular), Space Phones are guaranteed to knock your socks off. The two cones amplify sounds and vibrations when the spring is stretched, making wild and wacky sounds. Includes instructions and a study guide on the principles of sound. Recommended for children ages 8 and up.

 

Human Volcano – Wonder How Many Kids Tried This Mentos & Diet Coke Hoax?

While you may have never tried it, let’s be honest… you’ve thought about trying it… or making someone else try it. Drink as much Diet Coke as possible and then eat a few Mentos. It’s every 8th grader’s dream… either you spew a volcano of soda or you explode. Either way, it’s funny. Last night episode of Two and a Half Men just proves that one of the show’s writers is a science geek with a sense of humor.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyoutX8RSLo[/youtube]

Although I’m sure thousands of people (okay, 8th graders) have tried it, you just can’t turn your body into a human volcano with erupting geysers of diet soda. During the first year of my agreement with the company that makes Mentos (Perfetti Van Melle), there were rumors of a Brazilian boy who drank a bottle of soda and chased it with a roll of Mentos… and he exploded. I was asked by PVM to explain the science of why this can’t happen. This lead to the writers at snopes.com posting a great article on the Mentos and Diet Coke reaction with a reference to our site as part of the scientific rationale for why the rumor isn’t true.

But this hasn’t stopped a flurry of funny videos surfacing on Youtube. Super Burp has to be one of my favorites. Get ready… someone explodes.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOdFFa2JZRc[/youtube]

It Doesn't Always Go As Planned on Live TV

I do a live weekly science experiment segment on the NBC affiliate in Denver. I practice the demo before I go on, check and double check my materials and do everything I can to ensure a flawless performance. On live TV, there are no do overs. This week during my Science Monday on 9News, I attempted to show my cohort in crime, news anchor Mark Koebrich, how to pull a cork out of a wine bottle. Sounds easy, right? It didn’t exactly go as planned until the last 5 seconds of the segment.