Category Archives: Science

Lady Ada Lovelace Day 2016

MFNY 2016

This year for Lady Ada Lovelace Day, I want to celebrate the many women who shared their projects at Maker Faire New York.

I was thrilled to see the Touch Creature sculpture above by Talya Stein, especially after having seen an earlier version. She and I talked about the approachability of organic materials like wood. It was wonderful to see kids interacting with it.

I had a great conversation with Blythe Serrano, who I had met at a previous Maker Faire, about the material properties she has learned this year from experimenting with silicone casting. She makes light up pet collars, and generously shares her learning processes.

MFNY 2016

I loved this spatial magnetic field visualization by Inhye Lee. The three tubes in the center contain individually controllable electromagnets. The  compasses spin in their spheres in response to the changing magnetic fields.

There are so many more I had the pleasure of connecting with and catching up with, including Becky Stern, Sophi Kravitz, Star Simpson, and Sally Byers. I love Maker Faire for the opportunity to bask in the glow (LED glow in some cases) of so many incredible women.

Build it Yourself Science Laboratory at Maker Faire New York

The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory

Windell will be giving a talk on Sunday at this year’s Maker Faire in New York.

You can catch the talk on Sunday, October 2, at 2:30 PM, on the Make: Show & Tell Stage.

The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory is available from Amazon.com, O’Reilly, and other sellers of books, as well as from our store.

TABIYSL: Talk and demo at Maker Faire

The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory

I’ll be giving a talk and demo on Saturday at this year’s Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA. I’ll be demonstrating one of the many projects from my book, The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory (and signing books as well).

You can catch the talk and demo on Saturday, May 21, at 1:30 PM, on the Maker Show & Tell Stage.

The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory is available from Amazon.com, O’Reilly, and other sellers of books, as well as from our store.

Maker Faires and the BIYSL

The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory

This month I’ll be traveling to Maker Faires in Portland, Oregon, and New York City to sign and talk about my book, The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory. That, of course, is the new, updated version of Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory, the classic 1960’s hands-on science book by Raymond E. Barrett.

The Portland Mini Maker Faire is being held September 12-13 at OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. I’ll be speaking on the Innovation stage at 11 AM on September 12. This is a bit of a homecoming for the book: Raymond Barrett was the Education Director at OMSI when he originally wrote the book.

The World Maker Faire is September 26 and 27 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York. I’ll be speaking on the DIY stage on both days.

Bonus: During O’Reilly’s Back to School sale (through September 17), you can get the E-book version of The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory for 50% off using discount code B2S5.

Evil Mad Engineers

Every month or two since 2009, someone has sent me a copy of a particular comic from the webcomic Cowbirds in Love.  Here is today’s example, from @benk_at_work on twitter:

@benk_at_work tweets...

evil mad engineers @ cowbirds in love

 

Sigh.

There is, of course, only one appropriate way to respond in a situation like this: with another comic.

Back in 2011, I wrote an era-appropriate semi-autobiographical rage comic, that I could use as a standard response when people sent me that comic.

f7u12

Joking aside, we really do spend a lot of our time engineering— and many of our friends and colleagues are bona fide engineers. On the other hand, I love to cook, but that doesn’t make me a chef either.

Geek Tourism: Biosphere 2

Biosphere2-1

Biosphere 2 is an enormous earth science laboratory, originally built as an attempt to create a closed ecosystem. The goals were to study long term viability of an isolated human habitat, such as might be needed for long term space travel or colonization.

Biosphere2-17

The results of the initial experiments were a (fascinating) mixed bag. The goal of a strictly closed ecosystem was not met for a variety of reasons. However, some of the results have improved our understanding of the effects of climate change, such as how increased CO2 levels lead to acidification of the ocean habitat and coral bleaching.

Biosphere2-3

The facility is now being used both for education and for research. The enormous agricultural greenhouses have been transformed by the University of Arizona into the Landscape Evolutionary Observatory, a large-scale carefully-controlled long-term study of soil processes. It serves as an experimental bridge between computer models, small-scale laboratory experiments, and the real world.

Biosphere2-13

Some of the original biomes are relatively unchanged and have been growing since the project started in 1991. It is striking to have all hint of surrounding desert obscured by the vines of the rainforest.

Biosphere2-20

One of the most fascinating engineering aspects of the facility are the “lungs,” which are accessed through long narrow tunnels branching off of the main facility.

Biosphere2-22

The lungs were used to compensate for the changes in pressure and temperature. The two domed buildings have flexible inner liners that can expand and contract. A weight attached to the center of the liner makes them look toroidal inside of the dome.

Biosphere 2

The facility was built outside of Tucson, and is strikingly beautiful, surrounded by wildlife including lizards, snakes, tarantulas, jack rabbits, coyotes, gila monsters, and an incredible variety of birds and insects. We’ve put a few more pictures from our visit in albums on flickr here and here. Tours are available to the public daily, and it’s worth the drive and ticket price if you’re nearby.

GeekMom reviews Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory

Sam over at GeekMom just posted a thoughtful and kind review, Bringing Science Home Again: ‘The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory’.

This is exactly what was needed. So much of home-based experimentation right now is focused on technology and making. While there is nothing wrong with that, traditional sciences are just as important. Labs are important. The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory brings the magic of science home again.