Archive for the '[Etc]' category

Past and Present: Selling Newspapers in New York

Are you still reading newspapers? How do you get them? Photo by Jon S. Click on image for license and information.

Are you still reading newspapers? How do you get them?
Photo by Jon S. Click on image for license and information.

New York City takes pleasure in assaulting your senses. You turn a corner and hit a wall of garbage bags that have timed a particularly pungent release just for you. Or you stumble from the train half asleep in the morning and find yourself in a maze of gridlock. You might find questionable substances dripping on you from above where old air conditioning units are holding court. Or you might get to the landing in the stairwell in the subway and encounter an almost tangible odor of urine. Make no mistake: these are calculated attacks. But occasionally the abrasiveness gives way, and under the grime you'll catch glimpses of the harmonies that help shape the New York City. Newspaper hawkers are one such thing. Continue Reading »

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Mad Science! Creating a River of Slime

Oct 29 2010 Published by under [Etc], [Science in Society]

River of Slime. Copyright Columbia Pictures

It's pink. It's angry. And it wants you to be angry! It's the river of slime that the Ghostbusters saved NYC from in the 80s. Fortunately, Vigo has been banished--permanently, since there haven't been any instances of of giant Stay Puffed Puft Marshmallow men and the Statue of Liberty has remained firmly anchored in the harbor. But all the same, it might be sort of neat to create your own river of slime to deploy--as long as it was slime that lacked the ability to be emotionally manipulative:

Well, now you can! PopSci has a five minute video on how you can make your own rheopectic slime! What's rheopectic slime? It's slime that doesn't follow Newtonian laws:

Most fluids get less viscous the more you manipulate them--think of how honey or oil become "wetter" as they warm up and more solid as they cool. Those are Newtonian fluids. But non-Newtonian fluids do the opposite: they get more solid the more they're manipulated. So if you let this slime sit on a surface, it will pool out into a flowing mess, but if you play with it, it becomes thicker and bouncier. You can even form it into a ball.

This would have worked perfectly for the river of slime--the slime would have done all the work on it's own in terms of "flowing" forth and conquering the city. To recreate the effect, all you have do is let the slime loose on a flat surface. Maybe strategically place a few miniature figures in the way? So, grab some Borax (use less for flowing slime, more for slime you want to shape), pink food coloring, glue, and water, and get to it! Here's the video: DIY: Make Your Own Slime.

Disclaimer: Kids, don't try this alone. Grab a parent and do it together. Do not eat the slime. (why would you want to? It's slime!)

For even more fun, mad science/scientist posts today,  visit the Scientopia homepage to see what's been brewing on some of the other blogs.

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Exploring Urban Foraging Stations

Are you wearing comfortable walking shoes? If not, best go grab a pair of sneakers—we're going foraging! Well, it's not quite foraging because we actually have to pay for our finds, but I figured that telling you that we were off to forage might pique your interest more than if I were to admit that we're actually going to the supermarket.

Well, we are going to the supermarket, and I still think you'll need those shoes because I tend to wander the aisles when I'm there even if it's just for one thing—if I don't have a list, I tend to wind up with more than I intended to buy (which happens sometimes even with a list, I admit). Anyway, over at AiP one of my early posts explored an ethnic supermarket and considered the ways food can help immigrants retain a connection to their native countries. I have some plans to continue this series—it's really a matter of writing the posts—but in the meantime, I've been thinking more about how people obtain groceries in urban centers, and how their experiences are shaped by the services they use.

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