BB reader Readblood shares this photo in the Boing Boing Flickr pool and explains,
Bitblox are wooden alphabet blocks inspired by our pixelated nostalgia. While pixels continue shrinking out of sight on our digital screens, they live on in full chromatic and tactile splendor in these one-of-a-kind alphabet blocks.
$45 a set, available at glyfyx.com
. Each limited-edition set includes 28 blocks, "featuring a total of 168 letters, numbers, symbols and quirky pictograms." They're "hand-manufactured in the United States from renewable, American grown, kiln-dried basswood," printed with non-toxic, child-safe inks, free of lead.
It may be a little late for folks on the East Coast to round up the necessary parts before the blizzard really hits, but this would be a fun trapped-in-the-house project. It's not cheap, but it does give you the opportunity to see how subatomic particles interact with one another in the privacy of your own home. In a post at Scientific American George Musser explains how he put his experiment together
. A follow-up promises to show you how to use it, and what he found when he did.
An incredibly labor-intensive animated flipbook version of PSY's "Gangnam Style." Such a bummer that Etoilec1, the talented creator of this stunning video, was sound-blocked by YouTube's automated IP enforcement police. Etoilec1's original video is here
(and below), in higher rez, but it's stripped of sound. Subscribe to his channel
or follow him on Facebook
, for more flipbook fun. Above, a lower-rez copycat upload on Vimeo. (Thanks, Joe Sabia!)
Read the rest
Spotted in the Boing Boing Flickr Pool: Vancouver, Canada-based Artist Hiné Mizushima, right, stitched this lovely commissioned felt work for They Might Be Giants' new iOS song app.
The app is available now, as a free download.
Like TMBGs original Dial-A-Song, the app has a different song every day. The app holds five of the freshest posted tracks at all times, and all are directly linked to iTunes. It also connects you directly to TMBGs social media and free MP3 club. From Don't Let's Start to Nanobots the app even includes brand new tracks, GRAMMY-winning kids music and TMBGs beloved television themes.
The app was created by TMBG with Drew Westphal, graphic designer Paul Sahre, and Ms. Mizushima's lovely felt work.
Learn to break an apple apart with your bare hands. Make a marshmallow gun. Breathe fire. The Cobbler is your video guide to hands-on, science-based projects that filled with fun
A child learns to make ice cream at LA Makerspace.
Hooray for our LA-based friend Tara Brown, co-founder of Los Angeles Makerspace, who is interviewed today on the White House Office of Science and Technology website! She shares about her experience with bringing kids and families into the growing community of American makers. LA Makerspace is a "non-profit community of practice for inventors, builders, and creators (“makers”) to work and learn in a range of areas, including software, hardware, electronics, robotics, art, filmmaking, bio-tech, eco-tech, wearable-tech, and more." And while many "makerspaces" are exclusively for grownups, this one is family-friendly and for makers of all ages.
What inspired you to help lead this effort?
A few different things inspired me. My biggest inspiration is my own two-and-a-half year old. I work with researchers that are focused on the “connected learning” movement and it became very apparent to me that Ripley is going to need more than what is taught to him in school for him to follow his interests. I also noticed that some of the emerging communities for makers in LA might not be the best environment for younger kids, from a safety standpoint. Not too long after that, I co-founded a women's tech club and I thought that perhaps I could combine my own club activities with the need for a more kid-friendly environment.
What kinds of projects demonstrate the promise (and fun) of Making for parents and kids?
All of them! We have a policy where if you are under 13, you must be accompanied by an adult to all of our classes. At first we thought it was a risky move because we weren't sure if parents were hoping to just drop their kids off at classes, but it was the opposite. The parents were just as excited to be at the classes as the kids. Some families have come to almost every single one of our events and always learn something new and mentor the newcomers.
Read the rest.
Boing Boing reader Ross "rossindetroit" Hershberger created the Monobox, a nice speaker with a built in amp based on the venerable LM386 IC. MAKE produced a nice how-to video about it for its Weekend Projects program. This is a great project for parents and older kids (I'm guessing 9 and up).
MonoBox is a small, inexpensive powered speaker that amplifies the output of your headphone music player. It's little but it's loud! All the circuit parts are available from RadioShack. The speaker and cabinet are left to your preference.
You'll learn how to assemble and solder an audio power amplifier using an integrated circuit (IC) chip, and how to choose a speaker and install it in a cabinet with the amplifier.
The core of MonoBox is a compact and efficient audio amplifier based on the LM386 power amp chip. It will run on 200mA of current using power supplies from 6V–15V DC. This gives you the flexibility to power it from a wall adapter, a 9V battery, or a car accessory outlet.
You're probably thinking, "Sure, but it's so small. Does it rock?" Fair question. The prototype has been exhaustively tested and it does indeed rock. Maximum volume output is 90dB, and with the added bass boost your socks will be rocked clean off!
Complete step-by-step instructions for making a MonoBox
If you've ever considered making your own household cleaning products, you've probably asked yourself the following questions: Does it save money? Does it take a lot of time? Do they work as well as commercially made products? Gerri Detweiler of credit.com wanted the answers so she tried making her own laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, and all purpose cleaner. She was pleased with the laundry and dishwasher detergents, but found the all purpose cleaner to be somewhat lacking.
"These simple recipes gave me the confidence to try more. And that’s usually what happens, Matt Jabs [co-author of DIY Natural Household Cleaners] says: 'A lot of people just can’t believe that it’s going to work…because we’ve been conditioned through the excellent advertising agencies and commercials they make that (commercial products are) great. But really, it does work. So just start with one project and then go from there. It’s very exciting.'"
Credit.com: Making your own household cleaning products
Above, the 1/12 scale Transform Robot Version 7.2 from Brave Robotics
of Japan. There's an article about this creation in Wired Japan
by Francesco Fondi, who saw the invention in action at the recent Maker Faire Tokyo
The wirelessly remote-controlled Transform Robot took some ten years to develop, and includes wireless internet connected cameras for remote monitoring, and the ability to steer its arms and shoot little plastic darts from them.
Read the rest
Avi Solomon writes,
With the Jewish Diwali aka Hanukkah well nigh upon us, I was looking to provide my 7 year old son Uriel with a maker angle on the central artifact of the holiday, the Menorah. The Maccabees had hastily hacked together their Menorah by using hollow iron spearheads and I also wanted to capture this improvisational aspect of making the Menorah.
Inspired by Joe Grand's Pipe Menorah we set off to the nearest hardware store to make one of our own.The guys at the store were kind enough to let us putter around gathering the parts we needed and try them out together.
Read Avi's HOWTO: "Making your own Menorah is no longer a Pipe Dream!" (avisolo.blogspot.com)
Some pseudoscience is pretty obvious. I think most of us are comfortable saying that the world will probably not end this December, in accordance with any ancient prophecy. But distinguishing fact from fiction isn't always simple. In fact, "fact from fiction" might be too simple a way to even frame the question. In reality, we're sometimes tasked with spotting misapplication of real science. Sometimes, we have to tell the difference between a complicated thing that nobody understands yet very well but which is likely to be true and a complicated thing that nobody understands yet very well but which is not likely to be true.
Basically, it's messy.
Emily Willingham at Forbes has some helpful hints for how to make these distinctions. She offers ten questions that can serve as guidelines for approaching new topics you're skeptical of — questions that, taken all together, can help you see the patterns of pseudoscience and make informed decisions for yourself and your family.
3. What kind of language does it use? Does it use emotion words or a lot of exclamation points or language that sounds highly technical (amino acids! enzymes! nucleic acids!) or jargon-y but that is really meaningless in the therapeutic or scientific sense? If you’re not sure, take a term and google it, or ask a scientist if you can find one. Sometimes, an amino acid is just an amino acid. Be on the lookout for sciencey-ness. As Albert Einstein once pointed out, if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well. If peddlers feel that they have to toss in a bunch of jargony science terms to make you think they’re the real thing, they probably don’t know what they’re talking about, either.
9. Were real scientific processes involved? Evidence-based interventions generally go through many steps of a scientific process before they come into common use. Going through these steps includes performing basic research using tests in cells and in animals, clinical research with patients/volunteers in several heavily regulated phases, peer-review at each step of the way, and a trail of published research papers. Is there evidence that the product or intervention on offer has been tested scientifically, with results published in scientific journals? Or is it just sciencey-ness espoused by people without benefit of expert review of any kind?
Read the rest at Willingham's Forbes blog, The Science Consumer
Image: Day 35 of 365 - A Private Stash, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from jesssseeee's photostream
At Acculturated blog, Abby W. Schachter writes about "bobos," short for bourgeois bohemians, and evidence that big consumer brands are now marketing to them with highly mockable DIY gear that re-creates artisanal (or, depending on your point of view, obsolete) food production methods.
Case in point: William Sonoma's new upscale DIY kitchenware collection, called the Agrarian Guide, where one can purchase "a reclaimed rustic chicken coop for $759.95... a Warre beehive made from “untreated Western Red Cedar” that retails for $399.95, a vinegar pot for $90, an $80 fermentation pot to make “your own sauerkraut,” and a hand crank Burr grinder grain mill retailing for $675.95. The accompanying grain mill clamp will set you back another $105.95."
Read the rest here.
I vacillate between coveting everything in the catalog, and wanting to mock everything in the catalog. Either way, I cannot wait for the Portlandia sketch.
(via Virginia Postrel)
John Whalen says, "My brother, Dan, cooked up this little quasi-historical tableau for his wife, Rose, in San Francisco."
Read the rest
In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume
thread, Boing Boing reader Celeste says
We've made masks again this year. My husband Jacob is a plague doctor. I'm a spider (ironically, my least favourite animal but I loved working on the mask!). More pics and a bit of info on how they were made here.
In our Epic Halloween DIY Costume
thread, Boing Boing reader Shannon Stewart says
, "My husband and I went as Mars and the Curiosity Rover. Had a ton of fun making these babies and the costumes were a huge hit everywhere we went!"