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, 04 Mar 2015 08:17:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Dancing Paper, 8bit Harmonica, and Musical Umbrella by Ugoita Wed, 04 Mar 2015 08:17:56 +0000 The next time we start folding origami cranes, we’re going to be tempted to give them legs and little magnetic feet. This is Dancing Paper, a project by multimedia artist Ugoita. Watch as the cranes dance with synchronized moves, powered by a beautifully-made electromagnetic box that acts as their stage.

Ugoita has a variety of projects that explore how technology might intersect with more traditional objects. Below, his 8bit Harmonica project, a NES sound effects instrument, and a Musical Umbrella that translates the raindrops into adorable electronic tones. (We totally want one.)

Related videos: Sticky Actuator pouch motors, a Self-Folding Crawler, LEGO Bionicle Toa Mata Band, and Jason vs The Ultimate LEGO Machine.

h/t @aatishb.

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“Sunflower Cat Window” – Eight cats in a time lapse sunbeam Wed, 04 Mar 2015 05:46:04 +0000 Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, keep a closer eye on your cats because they just may have an agenda that you haven’t noticed before. This time lapse video by Mitsuru Yasui is an illuminating mini-epic that reveals the subtle motives of eight cats in a room throughout the day. It’s perfectly titled ひまわり猫窓 or Sunflower Cat Window. Conclusion: Cats are solar-powered.

Watch these next: Bodega Cats and Do Cats Always Land on Their Feet?

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Deep Look: Banana Slugs and Secret of the Slime Tue, 03 Mar 2015 18:58:25 +0000 Slime can trigger an immediate ewwwww! reaction, but ooey gooey slime is actually a rather brilliant, problem solving substance. One of the animals that depends on its slime can be found among the gigantic redwood forests of California, and stands out like a bright flower… or really more like a banana. This is Deep Look‘s Banana Slugs and Secret of the Slime:

Banana slugs are important members of the redwood forest community, even if they aren’t the most exalted. They eat animal droppings, leaves and other detritus on the forest floor, and then generate waste that fertilizes new plants. Being slugs, they don’t move very quickly, and without a shell, they need other protection to keep themselves from becoming food and then fertilizer. Their main defense: slime.

Slime or mucus is a liquid crystal — a goo that’s between liquids and solids — and it’s as useful for the Banana Slug as it is for our own bodies. Yep! We can learn more about our mouth, nose, sinuses, throat, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract by watching slugs drag slimy paths across the forest floor.

Be sure to read more at the always excellent

We love Deep Look, and for more slugs, watch The anatomy of a slug.

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Icebreaker Boats: Breaking Ice on the Hudson River Tue, 03 Mar 2015 17:23:56 +0000 The rivers surrounding New York City no longer freeze over completely –despite a lot of ice, water salinity and boat traffic keep the waterways open — but farther north on the Hudson River, in this case near Germantown, the Coast Guard’s specially-designed icebreaker boats have work to do to keep other boats moving. From The New York Times:

The hull has an S-shaped curve from its bow to its keel, which allows it to cut through the mounds; its weight enables it to effectively smash the ice; and its wake is perpendicular to the boat (most boats have a wake that comes out from the stern at 30 degrees), which allows for the greatest amount of ice to be broken. The Coast Guard has nine ships of this size deployed in the Northeast; there are also bigger and smaller cutters.

Read more at NYT, which includes a slide show about how Icebreaker ships aid stranded boats, and check out the February 2015 ice between Manhattan and New Jersey via an Animal New York quadcopter:

Watch this time lapse next: Breaking ice on an icebreaker boat (Two months in five minutes). ]]> 0
ExpeRimental: The Soap Boat Water Experiment Sun, 01 Mar 2015 16:46:05 +0000 Send molecules flying with this super fun and easy science experiment for kids (and adults): The Soap Boat Water Experiment from The Royal Institution’s ExpeRimental series. Comedian Rufus Hound and his son Alby make soap powered boats — there’s a pdf template and more useful info here — by breaking the surface tension of the water behind the boats. Watch as they start the video with a “super powers” demonstration.

Rufus and Alby do a science magic trick with some pepper (or oregano, if that’s your flavour), washing up liquid and water. Watch the flakes shoot across the water at the touch of a finger. They experiment with different liquids, investigating how substances around the house affect the surface of water. The dramatic effect you see is because the soap weakens the pull that water molecules have on each other. As a result, as the soap spreads over the surface of the water, the water is able to pull away, taking the oregano or pepper with it.

We love this classic experiment because it’s so easy, and the reaction is pretty impressive, even after doing it over and over again.

Like it, too? Try these next: The Color Changing Milk Experiment and ExpeRimental’s How to Make Static Magic.

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How is an ice sculpture made? SciFri investigates frozen water Fri, 27 Feb 2015 20:42:59 +0000 What’s So Cool About Frozen Water? Art and science come together to uncover some ice-expert-level details in this 2012 Science Friday report. Shintaro Okamoto, founder of NYC’s Okamoto Studio, and Erland Schulson, Dartmouth College’s Ice Research Lab Director, both explain how ice behaves as a material, and why they find it so fascinating.

For more on how a block of ice transform into a beautifully-carved, glass-like sculpture, Yakenda McGahee visits Takeo Okamoto, Shintaro’s father, in his Alaskan workshop to see how different drills, chisels, and chainsaws help create the ice’s final forms… well, almost final. Ice sculptures do melt, of course, and ice sculptors consider that, too. Shintaro explains:

“We’re always thinking how it’s going to melt, how is it going to perform, and we do see ice as a performative material. I think there is an immediate gratification that we get as an artist to see it go out there and be enjoyed by the people, and I think there’s an exercise of letting go that we do enjoy, as well. It about that journey of the material that we do enjoy most.

Watch this next: Why do ice cubes crack in drinks?

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A Briefer History of Time: How tech changes us in unexpected ways Fri, 27 Feb 2015 18:17:37 +0000 Have you ever gone camping where you wake and sleep with the sun and moon? Have you played outside all morning, only coming in when you get hungry for lunch? What was life like before we could measure time? How have clocks changed our behaviors — our work, our play, our sleep, our values, our expectations, our cultures — as humans?

Perhaps it all changed in the year 1657. This is Fusion’s A Briefer History of Time: How technology changes us in unexpected ways, a video essay by Adam Westbrook that argues that “When we mechanized time, we also and completely by accident, mechanized us… Now we don’t eat when we’re hungry, we eat when it’s time to eat. We don’t sleep when we’re tired, we sleep when it’s time to sleep.”

Is this true for you? How have different technologies changed your days and nights? Watch these next: Borrowed Light and Carl Sagan’s Cosmic Calendar.

via Open Culture.

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Expressive faces and sticking power: The Lumpsucker Fish Fri, 27 Feb 2015 17:01:29 +0000 Lumpsuckers or lumpfish are coldwater fish that live in the Arctic, North Atlantic, and North Pacific oceans. There are over two dozen species of them, but a few of the smaller kinds appear to have Ponyo-like faces, especially the one above. From CalAcademy:

With their befuddled-looking expressions, globiform bodies, and comically poor swimming skills, Pacific spiny lumpsuckers (Eumicrotremus orbis) are almost impossible to observe with a straight face. These entertaining little creatures, however, also possess some pretty striking adaptations. Their standout trait is a true evolutionary wonder: What was once a set of pelvic fins has fused to form a large, surprisingly strong sucker disk, giving the orb-shaped fish the ability to anchor itself to rocks, kelp, and eel grass.

…and balloons. Here are some adorable lumpsuckers on a balloon at Epson Shinagawa Aqua Stadium:

Baby Lethotremus awae or Dango-uo lumpsuckers seem to move their tails around like feisty cats in this video from Japan’s Enoshima Aquarium:

Here’s a red one that yawns:

And this one appears to be hanging out with a friend:

Read more about them at Wikipedia and Scientific American. Watch more strange and amazing fish at Enoshima Aquarium, as well as anglerfish, goliath groupers, and fish that walk.

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NASA: Satellite Tracks Saharan Dust to Amazon in 3-D Thu, 26 Feb 2015 21:34:35 +0000 Watch 182 million tons of dust ride the wind out of Africa’s Sahara Desert in 3D, as tracked from 2007 through 2013 by lidar, thanks to CALIPSO, the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation satellite.

Where is this dust traveling to? From the world’s largest desert — it’s “almost the size of the continental United States” — to the largest rainforest on the planet, a portion of the dust fertilizes the Amazon. NASA explains:

An average of 27.7 million tons of dust per year – enough to fill 104,980 semi trucks – fall to the surface over the Amazon basin. The phosphorus portion, an estimated 22,000 tons per year, is about the same amount as that lost from rain and flooding. The finding is part of a bigger research effort to understand the role of dust and aerosols in the environment and on local and global climate.

Phosphorus is, among other things, a plant food that’s often washed away into the Amazon’s ever-draining streams, rivers, and flooded lands, making this trans-continental dusting — “dust picked up from the Bodélé Depression in Chad, an ancient lake bed where rock minerals composed of dead microorganisms,” for example, — a key process that feeds the rain forest.

How does the amount of nutrient dust change from year to year, and what causes the variations? As our climate changes in the coming decades, how will this effect the dust distribution? Read more about the project at

Related videos include Feedback loops: How nature gets its rhythms, Dead stuff: The secret ingredient in our food chain, wind, dust, deserts, rain forests, and the Overview Effect. ]]> 0
Emily’s Oz: A blind girl imagines & art directs The Wizard of Oz Thu, 26 Feb 2015 19:58:55 +0000 A recent television commercial is standing out among the others, not as much for the product that it’s advertising, but for the story it tells about a seven year old girl named Emily. Blind since birth, Emily’s imagination runs free when she experiences movies, including her favorite: the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz. How exactly does Emily watch a movie without seeing it?

“I think about the shape, I think about color. I also think about sound. I take it into my brain and I think about… ‘What would it look like to me?'”

Perhaps the experience is something like how one might listen to an audiobook, podcast, or radio show, or even what you might imagine when someone’s reading a book out loud… but without the same visual references, Emily’s land of Oz is unique to her alone.

Above, watch how a team of set designers, puppet makers, and filmmakers put together a collaborative version of Emily’s creative vision for what Oz and its beloved characters look like. Below, watch Emily’s Oz, the original commercial that aired on television, narrated by Robert Redford:

If you couldn’t see, what might your favorite movie or animal look like? Watch this next: Feeling, not seeing, an elephant.

Plus, Judy Garland sings Over the Rainbow for US troops (1943), and we recommend some of our favorite books: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the stories of L. Frank Baum.

via @VideoAmy.

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Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle Restoration at MSI Chicago Thu, 26 Feb 2015 06:42:14 +0000 This huge fairy castle, a doll house made from 200 exacting components that can be packaged into shipping crates for touring, has been at the Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry since 1949. In 2014, the structure and its 1,500 miniature artifacts underwent a nine month restoration process. This time lapse video shares its reassembly.

Not only is the fairy castle a beloved part of the museum, but its history is a rich and unique one. From MSI Chicago:

This elaborate house full of hand-crafted miniatures and artifacts was completed by silent film star Colleen Moore in 1935, and came to live at MSI in 1949. The Fairy Castle has delighted generations with its tiny treasures and imaginative presentation, representing the contributions of celebrities, artisans and craftspeople around the world. These include a painting by Walt Disney himself; the tiniest bible ever to be written, dating back to 1840; and ancient statues more than 2,000 years old.

In February 2015, CBS Sunday Morning went behind-the-scenes at the museum, and spoke to Moore’s family to help tell her fairy castle’s story:

Watch a few silent films from Moore’s era of work, and see how other museums have worked to restore their artifacts: AMNH’s Building a True-to-Life Butterfly for a Habitat Diorama and How Do You Dismantle a Dino? (Very Carefully). Plus: More fairies.

Thanks, @mamagotcha.

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Flying drones over the lava lake at Ambrym’s Marum Crater Wed, 25 Feb 2015 16:39:08 +0000 …for science! Made possible thanks to camera-outfitted drones, filmmaker Sam Cossman took a team the edge of Ambrym Volcano‘s Marum Crater to 3D map its 7.5-mile-wide (12-kilometer) caldera and the spectacular lava lake at its core. Not all of the drones survived the expedition.

From Wired’s Drone Vs. Volcano: How Robotic Flyers are Changing Exploration, astrobiologist Jeff Marlow writes about the expedition, and drone expert Simon Jardine describes what it was like to fly new technology over this ancient, ever-changing window into our planet:

“The hardest part of flying was the hot air rushing out and cold air getting pulled into the lake. The machine would surge forwards and I would pull back on the stick. Then the hot air would blow in my face 10 times hotter than a hairdryer, and I could see the copter blasting back at me…”

The results will help scientists better understand the volcano, and really showcases how these highly-controlled flying cameras might advance science and exploration:

Read more at National Geographic, including details on the special, protective suit that allowed them to get a closer look. Cossman explains:

In order to approach the 2,000 degree F lava in close range, I wore a custom-built industrial proximity heat suit with an aluminized fiberglass shell and Nomex, fire retardant liner. The suit is built to withstand radiant temperatures of up to 3,000 degrees F. I worked with and was supported by NEWTEX, a pioneer in the niche thermal management apparel industry. The heat-protective face shield is constructed from a polycarbonate, gold-plated lens to filter out strong infra-red and ultra-violet radiation while still absorbing visible light. This is the same material used on spacecraft and astronaut visors.

Related videos include Eruption at Iceland’s Bardabunga Volcano, When a Volcano Erupts Underwater, and in a different kind of hostile environment: Testing a Space Rover Under Alaskan Ice.

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…meanwhile…: Marine life in high magnification time lapse Fri, 20 Feb 2015 17:44:25 +0000 Look very, very closely at Protoreaster linckii, Scolymia, Fungia, Trachyphyllia, Symphyllia, Euphyllia divisa wilde, a mix of Zoas and Alien eye zoas, and Tridacna maxima in this 2K and 5K mix of intense time lapse footage shot under ultraviolet light by Italian filmmaker Sandro Bocci: …meanwhile…

…Meanwhile… shows the world of marine animals like corals and starfish at high magnification and during long time span through the timelapse… This is an infinitesimal part of the wonderful world in which we live and of which we should take better care. A trip through a different perspective that would encourage reflection on the consequences of our actions on each scale of space and time. Enjoy the vision…

Related reading: AMNH on Fluorescent Corals, this LED vs ultraviolet LED light comparison, and The spectacular fluorescent colours of Coral Reefs.

More videos: Coral gardening and conservation, The Difference Between Bioluminescence and Fluorescence, Underwater time lapse can show the secret life of a coral reef, and, of course, Slow Life: Incredible macro video of fluorescing corals & sponges. ]]> 0
Mom’s Original Chinese Dumpling Recipe Thu, 19 Feb 2015 20:59:54 +0000 Dumplings are a traditional Chinese Lunar New Year celebratory food that you can make all year around, and there’s no shortage of recipes online to try: From lamb and pumpkin dumplings, to pork dumplings, to vegetarian dumplings, to authentic Jiaozi, to six easy dumpling recipes that children can help make.

We like this homemade video by Dan Seto: Mom’s Chinese Dumpling Recipe. He writes:

This is my Mom’s original recipe to make Chinese dumplings. She adds tapioca flour to the wheat flour to give it a chewy texture. You can add more or less of the tapioca flour to get the texture that you like. The steaming time for the Chinese dumplings depends on the type of filling and the thickness of the dough. Fifteen to twenty minutes should do it. Enjoy!

For more yum, check out NYT’s Lunar and Chinese New Year recipe collection and The Serious Eats Guide To Dumpling Styles Around the World.

Watch this next: San Francisco’s Kei Lun Lion Dancers. ]]> 0
Cookie Monster’s food-related “showerthoughts” at the museum Thu, 19 Feb 2015 20:43:37 +0000 What was the best thing before sliced bread? Cookie Monster considers some food-related “showerthoughts” — those random, seemingly-profound thoughts, ideas, or questions that you might have while taking a shower, daydreaming, or doing something relaxing or routine — while he explores the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Send us your showerthoughts! Related reading: Teach kids to daydream.

There’s more fun in the archives: Grover does science experiments, Telly explores microscopic worlds, and a few delicious-looking cookie videos.

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