Category Archives: Science

Foul Play in the Floral Department


While walking through Home Depot on an unrelated mission, we happened to walk by a display of succulents, and were struck by the unusual blue color of some of the flowering cacti.


But on closer inspection, we could see what was really going on: the flowers on the top were attached… with glue. In fact, most of the flowers on the cacti and succulents were glued on.  Some of them, like this winner here, even had globs of glue spilled down onto the spines of the cactus below.

This is a deceptive (yet sadly common) practice— and apparently many people do get fooled by it —as we found garden forum posts and warning articles about it, including here, here, here and here.  This seems not so far away from buying a fruit tree at a nursery, only to find out (once you get it home) that the fruit was only glued to the tree.


It looks like they are trying to make the less showy cactuses compete with the brightly colored grafted ones that they sell, like the ones shown pictured here. (This may not be a naturally occurring configuration, but at least it is a real, living plant.)


Strawflowers are used because they keep their color well after drying. They also open and close as the humidity changes and they absorb more water or dry out more, giving the illusion of being part of a living plant.

And if it’s not bad enough that the customer is being deceived about the nature of plant they are buying, the glue can often damage the plant below, especially during the removal process.

Introducing The WaterColorBot

Today we’re thrilled to be launching our newest kit: the WaterColorBot.

The WaterColorBot is a brand-new project from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories and Super Awesome Sylvia — a friendly art robot that moves a paint brush to paint your digital artwork onto paper, using a set of watercolor paints.

We’ve previously written about how we got started on this project (in a guest post by Sylvia), and about Sylvia’s visit to the White House Science Fair, where she was able to give President Obama a personal demonstration of the WaterColorBot.

And now, you can get one too!  We’re launching the WaterColorBot today on Kickstarter, and we’d like to ask for your support in getting it out there.  The WaterColorBot is an enormously powerful tool for helping to get young people interested in technology:

Beyond simple fun, we think that the WaterColorBot has enormous potential for STEM and STEAM education, especially as a way to get young people engaged with hands-on technology and robotics. We are particularly interested finding ways to inspire young women to pursue careers in science and technology. We cannot imagine any better way to do so, than starting with a robot co-designed by a 12 year old girl.

Perhaps more than anything else that we’ve done, we think that the WaterColorBot really can make the world a better place, one (young) Evil Mad Scientist at a time.

Time Lapse Fog over San Francisco

Adrift is a beautiful short film by Simon Christen chronicling the fog of the San Francisco bay.

I spent many mornings hiking in the dark to only find that the fog was too high, too low, or already gone by the time I got there. Luckily, once in a while the conditions would be perfect and I was able to capture something really special. Adrift is a collection of my favorite shots from these excursions into the ridges of the Marin Headlands.

Via @drwave.

The Evil Mad Scientist STEAM T-shirt

Evil Mad Scientist STEAM T-shirtEvil Mad Scientist STEAM T-shirt

Introducing the Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories STEAM T-shirt. Featuring high quality screen printing on 100% cotton tees from American Apparel.

Front side: Science & Technology & Engineering & Art & Mathematics. (Black ink)
Back side: The Evil Mad Scientist logo. (Red, brown, and black inks)
Shirt color: “New Silver,” a uniform light gray.

Evil Mad Scientist STEAM T-shirtEvil Mad Scientist STEAM T-shirt

These are Great Shirts

Beautiful quality screen printing by Social Imprints of San Francisco (“Printing with Purpose”).

The shirts themselves are comfortable 100% cotton tees, made in the USA by American Apparel. (Mens Fine Jersey Short Sleeve T-Shirt and Womens Fine Jersey Short Sleeve Women’s T.)


The design of the front is an homage (like so many others) to the John Paul Ringo George shirt by Experimental Jetset.

Why Science & Technology & Engineering & Art & Mathematics?
It’s who we are, and it’s what we stand for.

Why not just STEM?
We, like many, many others believe that art is a critical component of good design, of good engineering, and of beneficial technology.

Get yours

The Evil Mad Scientist STEAM T-shirt is in stock and shipping now!

Field Trips: Tide Pools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

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Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
 is a protected marine and intertidal park located at Moss Beach, California, about 40 minutes south of San Francisco, just north of Half Moon bay.  It’s a spectacular place to visit at low tide, for some of the finest, most accessible tide pools in the region.

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And as you’ll see, there’s definitely a lot to look at.

Continue reading Field Trips: Tide Pools at Fitzgerald Marine Reserve

Meteor Alert for North America Tonight

2009 Leonid Meteor by Navicore
Photo by Ed Sweeney under CC-BY license.


METEOR ALERT: Sky watchers in North America might see an outburst of meteors during the early hours of June 11th when Earth passes through a stream of cometary debris last seen in 1930. Forecasters Peter Jenniskens (SETI Institute) and Esko Lyytinen (Helsinki, Finland) predict the return of the gamma Delphinid meteor shower this Tuesday morning around 08:30 UT (04:30 am EDT). The shower is expected to last no more than about 30 minutes with an unknown number of bright, fast meteors.

Field Trips: Fern Canyon

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Fern Canyon is a lush little feature of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park— a tiny winding canyon whose dripping walls are lined with soft ferns and vibrant mosses.

The park is located very northwest corner of California, nestled against Redwood National Park.  The two parks are managed together, as part of the “Redwood National and State Parks.”  It’s a substantial six hour drive north from San Francisco or Silicon Valley, but as you will see, it’s unique, and arguably worth the trip.


Continue reading Field Trips: Fern Canyon