Ordinarily, I talk about how students and young people of all types and sizes adore Insta-Snow and other products and experiments featured here. However, don’t think for even a second that you have to be a child to have fun with science. It’s not just children who are fascinated by Insta-Snow. Polymer science has the power to fascinate grown men and women – sensible adults who are attending a serious conference and sharing business techniques and practices and products and advice, for example. I’ve seen it happen.
Music makes everything better. While that might not be scientific fact, it’s an opinion that holds a lot of stock, for me. In fact, I believe that certain types or styles of music can make things better to the point of being perfect. We’ve all heard people say something along the lines of “this is the PERFECT song.” It can be driving a car or going for a swim. Songs can be perfect for situations… and fields of science! Science & music go together like dry ice and dish soap… that is to say, they’re better together.
4. Physics and EDM
Physics is arguably the most applicable field of science, as it pertains to human existence. My very typing on a keyboard is governed by physics: friction between my fingers and the keys, potential energy in stationary fingers, kinetic energy in moving fingers, etcetera, etcetera, on and on. I would float away if it wasn’t for physics.
The necessity and application of physics to real life makes it seem like the musical suitor should exhibit similar real-world tendencies. Country music with lyrics that harken to blue collar life, runaway dogs, and heartbreak? Symphonies that fit perfectly with the dance of planets, stars, and other universal bodies? Nope.
Electronic Dance Music, or EDM, fits the bill.
Younger scientists will think of popular artists/DJs like Skrillex, Diplo, or deadmau5. (That’s “dead mouse,” if you were curious. It is not Dead Mow Five, however incredible that would be.) For older scientists, EDM is that weird noise that has been referred to as “that noise,” “robot sounds,” and “what in the…?”
The majority of EDM music falls in a beat per minute (BPM) range that only seems suitable for things like running, faster running, and sprinting until your heart explodes. However, isn’t movement what physics is all about? And while EDM does tend to stay above 100 BPM, there is a TON (metric) of movement from key changes, tempo adjustments, and more. Listen through one of your favorite tracks (or, one that you can tolerate) and imagine vectors, angles, and Sir Isaac Newton holding headphones to his ears. Glorious.
3. Biology and Hip Hop
I’ve heard it said that life has a beat, a pulse, that drives each being, each action. Therefore, biology is essentially studying that beat.
Hip hop, more than any other style of music, relies heavily on a beat. Some songs are comprised of nothing but lyrics over a kick and snare drum combination.
A BUH-bum, BUH-bum gives your body the rhythm required to make you a functioning homosapien. I know more than one person that has made a hip-hop beat out of their own heart beat. Time lapse videos show plants swaying to a muted tune like commuters on a train. Biology, the science of life, has a beat, because life has a beat.
2. Ecology and Atmospheric Nature Sounds
If you’re an ecologist and you listen to anything except atmospheric nature sounds when you’re doing lab work or paper work, I question your dedication to your work.
Turn your lab into your passion!
1. Chemistry and the Late 60’s
The Late 60’s comprise an era of music as diverse and all-over-the-place as Janis Joplin’s hair.
If one field of science can relate to that, it’s chemistry.
Good ol’ chemistry: identifying, studying, and playing with the building blocks of life. From the first time your dad convinces you that vinegar and baking soda taste really great together and that, “No! They won’t make a mess,” chemistry is just… THERE. Chemistry is involved in your life whether you like it or not. Want to know the reason your shampoo foams so much? Chemistry. (Well, foaming agents like cocamid, DEA, MEA, or TEA, to be more exact.) Gasoline propelling your vehicle? That’s combustion, and that’s chemistry!
You know how I made fun of older scientists before? Well… younger scientists, take a listen to 10 recent pop songs. Odds are that, whether inconspicuous or blatant, nearly half of those songs feature a sample. Where did that sample come from? Let’s just say the 60’s would be a very, very solid guess. That era of music is still everywhere, even though we don’t know everything about it. What did they take when they wrote that? What in the world are they singing about? Doesn’t matter! It’s good music!
That sounds a lot like the constant investigation of chemicals and elements, don’t you think?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.