Thursday, April 26, 2012

National Physics Day!

In case you didn't know, this past Tuesday was National Physics Day. Of course, for us here at the Mad Scientists of Etsy, every day is Physics Day (and Chemistry Day, and Astronomy Day, and Biology Day...). Here are some great items, from the Mad Scientists and laypeople alike, that celebrate the beauty that is physics.

'Physics Day!' by Kokoba

















Thursday, April 19, 2012

Etsy Shop of the Day: Fender Minerals

According to my mom, I was fascinated by rocks and minerals even at an early age. I don't remember much from those years of my life, and during my middle and high school years I didn't give a second thought to rocks. It wasn't until I started working at a rock and mineral shop in college that my fascination reasserted itself. Since then, my appreciation for the gorgeousness lurking in the crust beneath our feet has only deepened. Nothing makes my day like pretty rocks and mineral samples.

Fender Minerals has so many beautiful items I don't even know where to begin. While not a Mad Scientist of Etsy (yet?), Ms. Fender has some gorgeous samples that are of interest to any of our mad scientist rockhounds (yours truly, for example). Check out, for instance, this gorgeous piece of malachite (already one of my favorite stones):

Polished Bullseye Malachite Nugget from Fender Minerals

The little crystals in there are awesome! I've never seen that in malachite before. Alas the piece looks a little dinged up, but malachite is so soft it's really inevitable that it gets scratched.

If green's not to your taste, there's always iridescent chalcopyrite—the aptly named "Peacock Ore."

Peacock Ore Chalcopyrite Ray Mine Specimen from Fender Minerals

Something like this would be great in a little knick-knacks display shelf. This is what you'll find in my curios cabinet when I'm an old lady—not creepy ceramic children.

Fender Minerals also carries polished fossils that are drilled and ready for beading or wire-wrapping. Here's one of my favorites, an orthocera.

Orthocera Fossil from Fender Minerals

If you want more pictures and information, check out Fender Minerals' blog. There's a lot more to be had over there.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

April Challenge Theme: World's Tiniest Vertebrate Found!

Scientists in New Guinea recently discovered the world's tiniest vertebrate: a frog that reaches a whopping 7.7 mm in length.

Look at him! I can't deal with adorable he is! Neither can we, apparently, so for the rest of April the Mad Scientists will be crafting up a huge (tiny) storm. 

What do you think would be a cool crafty idea to celebrate this miniature amphibian?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Documentary Review: Playing God

I put off watching this one for a while because the title was just so dumb, honestly. Phrases like "playing God" and so forth perpetuate this image of science as a reckless, thoughtless endeavor; a field of study full of people who don't consider the consequences or repercussions of what they do. It paints this image of science as something that will ultimately doom us all and glosses over all of the good that science has brought us.

It's doubly unfortunate that Playing God has such a stupid title, then, because it's seriously the most amazing thing I've seen in a while. All of the documentaries I've watched so far have been good, of course, but this is the first that made me go, "Holy shit!"

It's another BBC production, this time hosted by Adam Rutherford. This one is all about genetics and what amazing things scientists are doing with gene splicing: goats that produce tougher-than-Kevlar spider silk in their milk, radiation treatment in tiny carbon capsules injected under astronauts' skin, purely synthetic materials created with squid camouflaging genes that will change color from the carbon dioxide in your breath, brewer's yeast that make petroleum instead of alcohol. Everything in here sounds like the stuff of science fiction, and yet scientists are creating this today.

The good: Everything. Just...everything. It also raises legitimate ethical concerns, not fluffy fear-mongering.

The bad: The documentary gives a little too much credence to the "are we meddling with what we should not?" view in some places, but for the most part avoids that trap entirely.

One interesting fact: It was all interesting, but I think my favorite part was the "citizen science" lab that was set up in the community center of some town in California. For a small membership fee, John Q. Public can now perform science experiments that, just a few years ago, were only possible to do in university laboratories. I wish something like that had been available when I was a kid!

Would recommend? A must-see. Put your NetFlix queue on hold and watch this one tonight. Seriously.


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