The Kid Should See This Cool videos for curious minds of all ages: Science, art, nature, animals, space, technology, DIY, food, music, animation, and more Thu, 18 Dec 2014 02:12:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How to wrap presents quickly and easily Thu, 18 Dec 2014 02:12:01 +0000 If you have a lot of presents to wrap, how do you get it all done in time? This viral video shows us how to quickly wrap presents with the aid of some tape and just a few folds. Clearly this sort of thing takes some practice, but it does look easy-ish. Here’s a slower one:

Need one more example? We’ve got one in the archives that reuses newspaper: How to wrap presents Japanese-style. Try it and let us know how it goes!

Related watching: It feels so good to give a present! ]]> 0
Antarctica’s Ice Formations: Volcanic ice caves & undersea brinicles Wed, 17 Dec 2014 21:09:48 +0000 The caves of Mount Erebus, Antarctica’s only active volcano, hide fragile and sparkling secrets: spectacular ice stalagmites, stalactites, shards, and feather-like crystals that form from the volcanic steam and gases flowing through these subterranean spaces. This clip from the Discovery Channel takes us into this ice labyrinth, a phenomenon that exists no where else on Earth.

We first learned about these volcanic ice caves in Sir David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet, where BBC filmmakers not only explored underground, but also filmed underwater in McMurdo Sound, the frozen sea covering Erebus’ lower slopes. There they documented the never-seen-before ice formations called brinicles, growing sheaths of briny sea ice:

The Discovery Channel time lapse clip above went viral in early 2012, but truth be told, we prefer the same footage in context of the entire 2011 BBC version of the documentary, narrated expertly by Attenborough.

In the archives: More ice crystals, more ice, more Antarctica, and many BBC nature clips with Sir David Attenborough.

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Deep Look: What Gives the Morpho Butterfly Its Magnificent Blue? Wed, 17 Dec 2014 18:54:32 +0000 What does it mean to be blue? Let’s look deep into something called structural coloration, the physics of light, and how it’s possible that the Morpho butterfly’s wings appear to be blue, despite their containing no blue pigment at all.

The secret: Each of the wing’s scales is a “huge” cell that can bend and reflect light. Grad student Ryan Null from UC Berkeley’s Patel Lab explains why this is not only fascinating, but useful:

“They appear to be the basic components of all animal cells. The genetic program controlling the creation of the nanostructures is elegant, robust and done in a way that is not hazardous to the life of the animal. If we can figure out how the butterflies do what they do, we have the potential to apply what we learn to a vast array of problems like creating cars that have their “paint” grown from the surface of their sheet metal, vivid cosmetics that are inherently safe for use with minimal testing, and even making solar cells more efficient.”

KQED Science shares research being done at UC Berkeley at the nanoscale — nanometers are one billionth of a meter — in this episode of Deep Look: What Gives the Morpho Butterfly Its Magnificent Blue?

Related listening on NPR: How Animals Hacked The Rainbow And Got Stumped On Blue. Related watching on this site includes more iridescence and previous blue morpho work at UC Berkeley: Zoom into a Blue Morpho Butterfly, and How Biomimicry is Inspiring Human Innovation.

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Ocean sponges have incredible filtering power Mon, 15 Dec 2014 19:01:10 +0000 Ocean sponges are fascinating multi-cellular animals that don’t walk or swim. They eat by filter-feeding, straining the water around them to capture organic debris particles and microscopic life forms.

How powerful are their filters? How strong is their current for capturing food? With the help of some non-toxic Fluorescein dye, we can see how highly effective ocean sponges are as filters of ocean water. Watch this incredible demonstration in Jonathan Bird’s Blue World: Sponges, which also includes some sponge history and details on sponge anatomy. From Oceanic Research:

The scientific term for sponges is Porifera which literally means “pore-bearing.” A sponge is covered with tiny pores, called ostia, which lead internally to a system of canals and eventually out to one or more larger holes, called oscula. Within the canals of the sponge, chambers are lined with specialized cells called choanocytes, or collar cells. The collar cells have a sticky, funnel shaped collar and a hairlike whip, called a flagellum. The collar cells serve two purposes. First, they beat their flagella back and forth to force water through the sponge. The water brings in nutrients and oxygen, while it carries out waste and carbon dioxide. Second, the sticky collars of the collar cells pick up tiny bits of food brought in with the water. Another type of cell, called an amebocyte, takes the food to other cells within the sponge.

Ocean sponges are just one kind of filter feeder. Oysters are also vital water filters within our marine ecosystems. This Chesapeake Bay Foundation time lapse video demonstrates their essential filtration capabilities:

Here’s another excellent example on this site: Sea cucumbers are underwater vacuum cleaners (also known as “the sea cucumber pooping video”).

One more must-see video: Slow Life: Incredible macro video of fluorescing corals and sponges.

h/t Why Evolution is True. ]]> 0 The art of making a book: Setting type, printing, & binding by hand Mon, 15 Dec 2014 17:06:20 +0000 Before machines automated the process of printing and binding books, but after books were made with handwritten pages or large, hand-carved wood blocks, books were typeset with small metal pieces, printed, and bound/sewn by hand. Today, it’s an art form. This video demonstrates the process.

Related DIY at DesignSponge: Bookbinding 101: The five hole pamphlet stitch.

Related watching on this site: Upside Down, Left To Right: A Letterpress Film, PBS Off Book series: Typography, and Printing with a 2000lb cast-iron Kluge Letterpress machine.

via Metafilter. ]]> 0 The Dot & the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (1965) Sat, 13 Dec 2014 21:36:40 +0000 Winner of the Academy Award for Animated Short Film in 1965, and adapted from the celebrated book by Norton Juster, best-known for Phantom Tollbooth, this is The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics.

The circle is not the kindest circle around, it’s true, but this Chuck Jones-directed animation is a captivating story on multiple levels: a classic triangle between characters, the exploration of math and shapes – “squares and triangles, hexagons, parallelograms, rhomboids, polyhedrons, trapezoids, parallelepipeds, decagons, tetragrams” and more, as well as an exploration of form, function, and values.

The original book, the updated edition, and the film also all showcase some beautiful 1960s visual design, as shown below:

Related watching: more math, more shapes, Chuck Jones draws Bugs Bunny, some of Norman McLaren’s pioneering short films, and Charles and Ray Eames’ Mathematica: A World of Numbers… and Beyond.

via Brainpickings.

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AMNH Origami: Fold a Jumping Frog in 13 Easy Steps Fri, 12 Dec 2014 21:19:17 +0000 In celebration of the American Museum of Natural History‘s annual Origami Holiday Tree, a 40 year tradition, the museum has released a series of short origami-making videos. Above, how to fold a jumping frog from an index card in easy 13 steps.

They also share Folding a Dinosaur. (Be ready hit the pause button a lot.)

Related DIY: Check out this wide variety of dinosaur origami instructions, and in our archives: more origami videos.

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Deep Look: The Hidden Perils of Permafrost Fri, 12 Dec 2014 19:06:38 +0000 When you put a permafrost core in a CT scanner and analyze the data, you’re traveling back in time to answer important questions: What was buried deep within the frozen soil? How much of it is ice or plant matter? How much bacteria is mixed within it, capable of springing to life? Presented by PBS Digital Studios, this is KQED’s Deep Look: The Hidden Perils of Permafrost.

Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have descended on Barrow, Alaska to study permafrost — soil that remains frozen throughout the seasons, often for thousands of years. They’re interested in permafrost because it has the potential to release an enormous amount of greenhouse gases in a short amount of time if rising temperatures cause the permafrost to thaw.

Related watching: more Deep Look episodes, more about ecology, a definition of feedback loops, and more time travel via Ice Cores: Measuring Earth’s atmosphere from 20,000 years ago.

Related solutions: solar power, wind turbines, electric cars, entomophagy, sustainability, and The Story of the Hummingbird.

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The Birth of a Snowflake (A snowflake melts in reverse) Thu, 11 Dec 2014 02:45:57 +0000 What if puddles turned into snowflakes? If they did, it might look something like this: YouTuber Armand9x filmed this snowflake melting and then ran it backwards to create The Birth of a Snowflake, a short but sweet 20 second clip that only exists thanks to technological assistance. From Science Alert:

It’s something you’ll never actually see in real life, so it’s fun to watch it in this footage. In reality, snowflakes form up in the atmosphere when a piece of dust or pollen comes into contact with extremely cold water to create an ice crystal. As this crystal falls to the ground, water vapour starts freezing onto it, which forms the six intricate arms of what will end up being a snowflake.

But if puddles did turn into snowflakes, just imagine how the snow would fly when we stomped in huge rain puddles.

Related watching: Learn how snow is made! Plus: Melting backwards: Frozen, the time lapsed formation of snowflakes, and beautiful ice crystals forming on bubbles in real time.

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Stop motion by PES: Submarine Sandwich and Western Spaghetti Wed, 10 Dec 2014 21:34:00 +0000 Come visit the deli where a Submarine Sandwich is made from sports equipment, toys, and other playfully-delicious looking stuff. Stop motion filmmaker PES is well-known for filling his films with visual surprises, where dice, Rubik’s Cubes, glitter, and wrenches all have brilliant new lives. His film Fresh Guacamole (2012) was nominated for an Academy Award.

Watch another recipe from PES’ imagination: Western Spaghetti (2008):

There marine creatures made of tools in the archives: The Deep by PES.

via Colossal. ]]> 0 WNYC: Bodega Cats In Their Own Words Wed, 10 Dec 2014 19:40:34 +0000

“There are no cats quite like New York City bodega cats—if only they could talk. Well, now they can.”

This charming series by Amy Pearl and Jennifer Hsu chronicles the lives of New York City Bodega Cats In Their Own Words, as narrated by their bodega store owners. Kept as companions, and to keep mice, rats, and bugs out of the store, bodega cats are charismatic staples in every borough.

Through meeting the cats, we get a glimpse of the wide variety of cultures, voices, foods, and sounds around New York City’s diverse neighborhoods, as well as how integral these small and independent bodegas are to their communities. Above, meet Oliver of the Upper West Side. Below, meet Victoria and Sheeba of Park Slope, Brooklyn, and Carmel of Ridgewood, Queens:

There are more Bodega Cats on WNYC’s YouTube Channel. You can also see photos of bodega cats at

Related videos: more New York City, more of city life around the world, and more cats of all kinds.

via BoingBoing.

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TED Ed: What are those floaty things in your eye? Wed, 10 Dec 2014 03:02:44 +0000 Have you ever seen something small and strangely transparent float into your field of vision? …as if it’s on your eyeball?

No, you’re not seeing things! And no, those are not microscopic bugs or bits of dust in your eye! These objects are commonly referred to as floaters, or more officially Muscae Volitantes, and they’re native to your body. Want to see them now? Look at the white spaces on this page, or try looking at an almost all white page on your computer…

In this revealing, rather eye-opening video, TED Ed explains floaters and the Blue Field Entopic Phenomenon, “white blood cells moving in the capillaries in front of the retina of the eye.” They can be seen as darting dots of light when looking up at the blue sky.

Follow this video up with a close up or two of the human eye, more TED Eds about the body, and Thailand’s Moken people who have developed incredibly clear underwater vision. ]]> 0
Two Ultra Fast Robots Pick & Place Batteries to Form Group Patterns Tue, 09 Dec 2014 18:07:27 +0000 These manufacturing robots were built to organize parts on a conveyor belt, picking, placing, and grouping at high speed. Watch as the spindle-armed Delta Robot (right) and compact LR Mate 200iD robot (left) sort and move sets of four batteries with mesmerizing, seemingly-endless rhythm.

Chris Baird filmed the demo above at PackExpo 2014, but you can also see these robot partners explained in detail in this promo video by Fanuc America, below: Two Ultra Fast Robots Pick & Place Batteries to Form Group Patterns.

Mmmmmm… conveyor belts. Watch more factories, machines, and more robots making stuff, from Automated Cake Icing and Decorating Machines to Behind the Scenes of How the Tesla Model S is Made.

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Among the stone pile nests of Gentoo Penguins Tue, 09 Dec 2014 17:15:41 +0000 Watch and listen as these Gentoo Penguins breed, feed, and waddle among their stone pile nests in colonies around the sub-Antarctic islands. Gentoo females lay two eggs, and both parents share nest and offspring care. Around 80-100 days after hatching, almost-grown chicks are ready to swim at sea.

Fun facts: They are the fastest swimming penguins, hitting speeds of up to 22 miles an hour (36 kph), and can stay underwater for up to seven minutes, most likely when pursuing prey.

We love the sound in this video. File under: animal sounds, penguins, and the always excellent Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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Alaskan Kayaking Adventure: New Lives in the Wild Tue, 09 Dec 2014 08:02:37 +0000 Paddle out to a glacier with locals Bretwood Higman and Erin McKittrick to witness Alaska’s majesty by kayak in this clip from Ben Fogle’s New Lives In The Wild, a BBC show about people who have chosen to move to more remote locations around the world.

Higman and McKittrick live with their kids in a self-built, New York Times-profiled, Mongolian-style yurt, not far from a coastal village of Seldovia, Alaska, population 350 or so. From The Telegraph, Fogle writes:

They now live for half the year in their yurt, collecting firewood for the tiny wood-burning stove and making their own clothes. For the other six months, they trek through the Alaskan wilderness with their young children, four-year old Katmy and two-year old Lituya.

While their life is certainly unconventional – they have no access to running water, just a well, so they make do without a shower, bath or loo, and use dogs to lick their plates clean – I was astonished by the fluidity of it all when I joined them for a week in the wilderness.

It was strange to see Erin changing a nappy (made from towelling, of course) on the frozen, mossy Alaskan tundra, and I couldn’t begin to fathom how they trek for six long months of the year with two infants; Marina and I struggle to get our children and equipment into the car for a short trip to visit friends. Of course there were tantrums, but I saw less whingeing and crying than with my two on a trip to the park. Their children could also recognise more edible plants and berries than I knew existed.

You can read more about the Higman family’s life in the wilderness in this 2009 NYT article: Broadband, Yes. Toilet, No.

In the archives: more Alaska, more kayaks, more adventures of all sorts, and more glaciers, including another clip of Alaskan ice calving.

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