The Kid Should See This Smart videos for curious minds of all ages: Science, art, nature, animals, space, technology, DIY, food, music, animation, and more Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:44:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Archaeology of Crossrail and the history of London Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:44:04 +0000

The construction of London’s newest railway, which will be known as the Elizabeth line when services begin in 2018, has given archaeologists a unique chance to explore some of the city’s most historically important sites. Since work began in 2009, the project has undertaken one of the most extensive archaeological programmes ever in the UK, with over 10,000 artefacts shining a light on almost every important period of the Capital’s history.

Explore 8,000 years of human history, from Mesolithic tool makers, to the Great Plague of 1665, to the engineering wonders of Crossrail, Europe’s largest infrastructure project at Tunnel: The Archaeology of Crossrail at the Museum of London Docklands. The free exhibition runs from February 10 to September, 3 2017.

For more, read Excavating Tunnel: The Archaeology of Crossrail, and London’s Big Dig Reveals Amazing Layers of History at National Geographic.

Next: 40,000 years of London history created with papercraft and Building a Class 345 railcar for the Elizabeth line. Bonus: More tunnels.

]]> 0
How the food you eat affects your gut – TED Ed Wed, 29 Mar 2017 13:28:27 +0000

The bacteria in our guts can break down food the body can’t digest, produce important nutrients, regulate the immune system, and protect against harmful germs. And while we can’t control all the factors that go into maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, we can manipulate the balance of our microbes by paying attention to what we eat.

Learn how the food you eat affects your gut with this TED Ed by gastroenterologist Dr. Shilpa Ravella.

Next: You Are Your Microbes and Sugar: Hiding in plain sight. ]]> 0
Relighting “Circus Sideshow (Parade de cirque)” by Georges Seurat Tue, 28 Mar 2017 06:12:58 +0000 French post-Impressionist painter Georges Seurat is well-known for his pointillism technique and for his depictions of life in the late 1800s. In observing his painting Circus Sideshow (Parade de cirque), we see these hallmarks, but considering the year and place that it was painted—1887–88 in Paris, France—Seuret may have intended for the painting to be seen slightly differently…

In this video from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, conservator in the Department of Paintings Conservation Charlotte Hale simulates the gas lamp lighting effect of Seuret’s era. In contrast to the balanced and brighter lights of a museum, this flickering gas light experiment may inspire a new understanding of the young artist’s city experience and artistic intentions.

The painting’s description from The Met:

At the Salon des Indépendants in 1888 Seurat demonstrated the versatility of his technique by exhibiting Circus Sideshow, a nighttime outdoor scene in artificial light, and Models, an indoor, daylight scene (Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia). This is Seurat’s first nocturnal painting and the first to depict popular entertainment. It represents the parade, or sideshow, of the Circus Corvi at the annual Gingerbread Fair, held in eastern Paris around the place de la Nation, in spring 1887. Sideshows were staged outside the circus tent, for free, to entice passersby to purchase tickets. The onlookers at the far right are queued on stairs leading to the box office.



On view at The Met from February 17 through May 29, 2017: Seurat’s Circus Sideshow, “a provocative display of more than 100 paintings, drawings, prints, period posters, and illustrated journals, supplemented by musical instruments and an array of documentary material intended to give a vivid sense of the seasonal fairs and traveling circuses of the day.”

Next, check out A Vault of Color: Protecting the World’s Rarest Pigments, Pablo Picasso painting on glass, and this favorite silent movie scene: Charlie Chaplin in the lion’s cage: The Circus. ]]> 0
Four minutes of an armadillo digging a hole Tue, 28 Mar 2017 03:47:12 +0000 With a leathery shell and front leg claws made for digging, armadillos burrow to find food and to make underground shelters. The armadillo in the video above, identified as a six-banded or yellow armadillo by YouTuber Fauna and Flora, digs U-shaped burrows with a single opening. “Unlike the moles, that throw the soil to a side while digging,” explains Wikipedia, “the six-banded armadillo digs with its forefeet and throws the soil behind with its hindfeet.” Read on

Armadillos are small to medium-sized mammals. The smallest species, the pink fairy armadillo, is roughly chipmunk-sized at 85 g (3.0 oz) and 13–15 cm (5.1–5.9 in) in total length. The largest species, the giant armadillo, can be the size of a small pig and weigh up to 54 kg (119 lb), and can be 150 cm (59 in) long. They are prolific diggers. Many species use their sharp claws to dig for food, such as grubs, and to dig dens. The nine-banded armadillo prefers to build burrows in moist soil near the creeks, streams, and arroyos around which it lives and feeds. The diets of different armadillo species vary, but consist mainly of insects, grubs, and other invertebrates. Some species, however, feed almost entirely on ants and termites.

Armadillo means “little armored one” in Spanish.

Next, one of our favorite videos: A Baby Nine-Banded Armadillo found in a yard in Texas. Plus: Rollie, a southern three-banded armadillo, playing. ]]> 0
Termite clay kiln & pottery – Primitive Technology Mon, 27 Mar 2017 17:37:55 +0000 If you lived in Far North Queensland, Australia before modern technologies were invented, how might you make a clay kiln and pottery from a termite mound? Primitive Technology takes on the challenge in the video above.

Termite clay is good material for making furnaces and an OK substitute for good pottery clay should it be difficult to find a better source. The termites have already processed the clay by the fact that their mouths are too small to include sticks and pebbles into their structures. As a result, the clay is very smooth and plastic. Too smooth for my liking, in fact, I’m used to working with coarser clay that has silt mixed into it naturally. I find that termite clay is either too runny when wet or cracks too easily when drier. It was difficult to form into complex shapes and it took me 2 attempts to make the urn. But for forming objects like tiles it’s OK, it can be pressed into shape and it will hold without difficulty. In future, I’d be likely to use termite clay for mass producing formed objects such as bricks, tiles, simple pots (formed over a mould) and possibly pipes, thereby conserving the dwindling clay supply from the creek bank which I’ll save for more intricate pottery.

Read about how he built the kiln and worked with termite clay on his site, and watch more Primitive Technology videos on this site.

Related watching: Made by the Sea – Pottery from beach-harvested clay, From Clay to Mosaics – How zellige (الزليج) mosaics are made, and Kintsugi & kintsukuroi – The art of pottery mending with gold.

Plus, related termites: How do living things change their environments?

]]> 0
The differences between a living and a dead sand dollar Mon, 27 Mar 2017 04:31:49 +0000 How can you tell if a sand dollar is dead or alive? Sand dollars are flat sea urchins that burrow into the soft sand. When alive, their undersides are full of “velvet-textured spines” covered with cilia, a latin word for eyelashes. When they’re no longer alive, the spines disappear. The test or skeleton of the creature begins to turn white, bleached by sunlight, and they’re more easily recognized by the five petal pattern on their backs.

YouTuber and teacher Sea Something explains the difference in this video from 2012. More info from the Monterey Bay Aquarium:

In their sandy seafloor habitat, sand dollars use their fuzzy spines, aided by tiny hairs (cilia), to ferry food particles along their bodies to a central mouth on their bottom side. They capture plankton with spines and pincers (pedicellariae) on their body surfaces. A tiny teepee-shaped cone of spines bunched up on a sand dollar’s body marks a spot where captive amphipods or crab larvae are being held for transport to the mouth. Unlike sea stars that use tube feet for locomotion, sand dollars use their spines to move along the sand, or to drive edgewise into the sand. On the upper half of the sand dollar’s body, spines also serve as gills.

In quiet waters, these flattened animals stand on end, partially buried in the sand. When waters are rough, sand dollars hold their ground by lying flat—or burrowing under. In fast-moving waters, adults also fight the currents by growing heavier skeletons. Young sand dollars swallow heavy sand grains to weigh themselves down.

If you see a sand dollar on the beach, consider its color and look for short spines, cilia, and tube feet. If it has those, be sure to return them to the water after observation. YouTuber April Morris shares another example:

Plus, here’s a time lapse from Monterey Bay Aquarium that shows sand dollars burrowing and moving sand grains: “One second of this video represents about two and half minutes in the life of these animals!”

Next: The weird world of the sea urchin and How Life Begins in the Deep Ocean. Plus: More animals that burrow.

h/t Reddit.

]]> 0
Genevieve von Petzinger & the invention of graphics on cave walls Mon, 27 Mar 2017 03:55:25 +0000 Northern Spain’s Cueva de El Castillo and Cueva de La Pasiega both contain incredible specimens of Franco-Cantabrian cave art, paintings and engravings in Cantabria province and southwestern France. El Castillo cave is home of the earliest-found rock paintings in the world, dating back at least 40,800 years, and contains 45 hand prints, 50 symbols, and 180 depictions of animals. La Pasiaga’s cave “contains the largest number of cave paintings anywhere in the Iberian Peninsula. There are 291 drawings of animals, 134 complete symbols and 25 series of isolated dots.”

Tour these early signs of graphic communication with paleoanthropologist Genevieve von Petzinger in this clip from Origins: The Journey of Humankind, hosted by Jason Silva: Inventing Graphics on Cave Walls.

Why did von Petzinger become a paleoanthropologist?

I’ve been interested in digging things up since I was a kid. My first love was dinosaurs. Somewhere in my teens I realized I actually was interested in humans more than those lovely creatures that I had obsessed over my childhood. There’s always been this theme of wanting to go explore old things…

I’m just really fascinated by the fact that 200,000 years ago, there were people who looked like us and had our brain size, but they didn’t seem to quite be thinking like us yet. I’m trying to understand: When did these people truly become us, and how far back does that actually go?

We live in this incredibly graphic world, and none of that would exist if it weren’t for the fact that our Stone Age ancestors around the world started making these visible marks and storing their information this way. Even if there’s always the, “Well, we don’t know this for sure,” I think sometimes you can pull enough threads of data together to at least get a sense of what’s going on. I guess I’m just intrigued. I want to know what they were thinking, as much as is possible to know.

A deeper dive into her work can be found at Why are these 32 symbols found in ancient caves all over Europe?

Related reading: Mysterious Markings May Hold Clues to Origin of Writing and How Communication Made Us Modern.

Also, at NPR: For How Long Have We Been Human?

Watch Deep in the caves with Homo Naledi & the Rising Star Expedition and Animated Life: Mary Leakey & the Laetoli footprints next. ]]> 0
Diffusion Choir, a flock of 400 kinetic origami elements Mon, 27 Mar 2017 03:44:05 +0000 Four hundred motorized origami elements echo the movement of an invisible flock of birds. The piece, titled Diffusion Choir, is made from Tyvek fabric hexagons that furl and unfurl like umbrella canopies around 1800 times a day. Driven by a flocking algorithm, the pattern of their flight path constantly changes.

Diffusion Choir was created by art and technology studios Sosolimited, Hypersonic, and Plebian Design to celebrate the beauty of collaboration for a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based client. Go behind the scenes in their Making of Diffusion Choir vid:

Also from Plebian: Breaking Wave, An anamorphic kinetic sculpture.

Plus: Shylights, Blooming silk light sculptures at the Rijksmuseum and The ORBIS FLY kinetic light system at the Leningrad Center. ]]> 0 Why 10 Daily Tons of Ant Poop Keep This Rainforest Thriving Fri, 24 Mar 2017 04:22:01 +0000 High up in the rainforest canopy of Panama’s Barro Colorado Island, there are ants everywhere. Azteca ants—one kind of 30 different ant species that might be in a given tree—stand out because of their epic, 9 foot (2.74 meter) tall hanging nests… and the ant poop that falls from them.

What’s the ant poop made of and how does its chemistry affect the ecosystem of the forest? Hazard a guess: Which of these two plants was fertilized with ant poop?


Research Fellow Jane Lucas has been scooping the poop and shares what she’s learned in this clip from Secrets of the Rainforest: Why 10 Daily Tons of Ant Poop Keep This Rainforest Thriving.

Related reading: Manna from heaven – Refuse from an arboreal ant links aboveground and belowground processes in a lowland tropical forest.

Next: More poop videos and more ant videos, including The Sticky Feet of Ants & Cockroaches, excavating a giant ant hill, GPS-navigated rolling of the dung beetle, and why do leafcutter ants cut leaves and carry them away?

]]> 0
Building a Volcano-bot | How She Works Thu, 23 Mar 2017 16:41:43 +0000 Volcanologist Carolyn Parcheta builds and tests Volcano bots, sturdy and compact robots that can explore inside volcanoes. Her team is developing these two-wheeled explorers to learn more about how magma moves and how volcanoes erupt, not only on Earth but perhaps on other planets and moons, too. From NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab:

For their experiments in May 2014, they had VolcanoBot 1 roll down a fissure – a crack that erupts magma – that is now inactive on the active Kilauea volcano in Hawaii.

Finding preserved and accessible fissures is rare. VolcanoBot 1 was tasked with mapping the pathways of magma from May 5 to 9, 2014. It was able to descend to depths of 82 feet (25 meters) in two locations on the fissure, although it could have gone deeper with a longer tether, as the bottom was not reached on either descent.

“In order to eventually understand how to predict eruptions and conduct hazard assessments, we need to understand how the magma is coming out of the ground. This is the first time we have been able to measure it directly, from the inside, to centimeter-scale accuracy,” Parcheta said.


Above, via NASA, VolcanoBot 2 and the slightly larger VolcanoBot 1.

We love How She Works, a series from Mashable about women with diverse jobs. Watch this next: When Your Job Is Saving The Ocean.

]]> 0
The Brick Double-Domino Effect Explained Wed, 22 Mar 2017 14:58:41 +0000 In 2016, bricklayers in Teralba, NSW Australia filmed their domino-style technique for capping a concrete brick wall. The video went viral thanks to the surprising second part of the chain reaction: After the bricks fell like dominoes in one direction, they quickly fell like dominoes again in reverse.

How and why did that happen? Mathematician Matt Parker shows us what’s going on in The Brick Double-Domino Effect Explained.

Plus, watch the bricks fall perfectly both ways in the original vid:

Try it yourself and let us know how it goes.

Next: Watch more domino videos and more videos about math, including Parker’s Measuring the Berlin TV Tower with a ruler.

]]> 0
Invisible Nature: Code of the Treehopper Wed, 22 Mar 2017 05:06:03 +0000

Hiding in plain sight and deceptively still, treehoppers have evolved an ingenious way to communicate—using a complex series of vibrations. Now, scientists are listening in and starting to crack the treehopper code. And it turns out, these insect conversations are happening nearly everywhere they eavesdrop—from tropical rainforests to urban gardens. Your own backyard may in fact be hosting a cacophony of communication that is imperceptible, until we listen in just the right way.

Invisible Nature: Code of the Treehopper, a delightful and informative story about what we don’t usually see or hear, directed by science filmmaker Flora Lichtman for bioGraphic.

Next, watch Whale Fall (After Life of a Whale) and Animated Life: Seeing the Invisible. Plus: Look Up! The Billion-Bug Highway You Can’t See.

h/t @Anna_Rothschild. ]]> 0 Ben Vereen sings Pure Imagination on The Muppet Show (1977) Wed, 22 Mar 2017 03:25:44 +0000 Watch actor, dancer, and singer Ben Vereen try to cheer up Droop with some Pure Imagination, a song from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971). They’re also joined by some unusual creatures. The performance is from episode 117 of The Muppet Show, which aired in the U.S. on January 24, 1977.

Watch these next: Mummenschanz on The Muppet Show (1976) and Dizzy Gillespie & the Electric Mayhem (1980).

via BoingBoing. ]]> 0 What’s inside a tape measure? Wed, 22 Mar 2017 02:49:54 +0000 It’s useful for measuring, fun to extend out as far as possible, and when its rocker is unlocked, the long metal measuring blade snaps quickly back inside of its shell. But how? What’s inside a tape measure?

In this clip from the Science Channel’s Machines: How They Work, the humble tape measure’s engineering is revealed. We also visit a factory in the United Kingdom to see how the metal is cut, painted, printed, and coiled.

Next: More engineering, more measuring, and why the metric system matters. Plus, What’s on the inside of a fishing reel? And how does a retractable ballpoint click pen work?

]]> 0
Cell division in a frog egg, a microscopic time lapse video Tue, 21 Mar 2017 23:24:25 +0000 In a feat of DIY time lapse filmmaking at a microscopic scale, wildlife filmmaker and photographer Francis Chee captured the cell division of a Rana temporaria common frog egg. Watch it transform from a few cells to… hundreds of thousands? A few million?

The 23 second time lapse captures a 33 hour process. Given a few additional days, a tadpole will hatch from this egg. Chee, who has a PhD in Biology and has worked as a scientist, is in the process of filming an entire egg-to-tadpole time lapse video. Of the image capture techniques demonstrated above, he writes:

…it was done with a custom designed microscope based on the “infinity optical design” It is not available by any manufacturer. I built it. I used LEDs and relevant optics to light the egg. They too were custom designed by me. The whole microscope sits on anti-vibration table. I have to say that it doesn’t matter too much what microscope people use to perform this. There are countless other variables involved in performing this tricky shot, such as for example: the ambient temperature during shooting; the time at which the eggs were collected; the handling skills of the operator; the type of water used; lenses; quality of camera etc…

Update: Here’s his follow-up video of another zygote developing in time lapse. From Chee’s notes: “…it is hard to distinguish the individual cells, formation of the neural crest and embryonic eyes and gill and tail development. The last scene is a large magnification of blood flow within the embryonic gills.”

Next: How an Embryo Grows, a bacteria growth time lapse, Hunting for microbes in Central Park’s murkiest waters, and how to create a DIY phone microscope. Bonus: Banggai Cardinalfish eggs.

via Colossal. ]]> 0