I’ve always enjoyed shopping for ridiculous stuff online… There is just so much more cool stuff available in the interweb mall; there always has been… eep, sorry. I’m feeling a bit ranty and drawn out today… also, I’m watching last night’s SNL, so I’m totally distracted. I’ll cut to the cheese here:
Hey you! Here’s some cool science crap you can buy online, but probably wont. The original list comes from Crazy as a Bag of Hammers…
… the world’s lowest density solid, clocking in at 96% air. It’s basically just a gel made from silicon, except all the liquid has been taken out and replaced with gas instead. It supports up to 4,000 times its own weight and can apparently withstand a direct blast from two pounds of dynamite.
It’s also known as frozen smoke… I call it a ghost tongue… because it looks like a ghost’s tongue… Anyone have 1990’s Demi Moore on their Christmas list? (Lame joke, I know, but I didn’t feel a dead lesbian joke was appropriate here).
2. Mars Rock
Every once in a while, a meteorite smashes into Mars hard enough to eject some rocks out into orbit around the sun. And every once in a while, one of these rocks lands on Earth. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen, and whoever finds the meteorite is allowed to cut it up into bits and sell it to people who want to have their very own piece of another planet.
The same thing applies to the leftover tiles from your slate kitchen floor. You’re totally free to cut those up and sell them to people who want to have their own piece of another planet. Go Internets!
Get it from the Meteorite Market… Seriously
Gallium is a silvery metal with atomic number 31, but the cool thing about it is its melting point, which is only about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If you hold a solid gallium crystal in your hand, your body heat will cause it to slowly melt into a silvery metallic puddle. Pour it into a dish, and it freezes back into a solid.
I’m envisioning little lego terminators in ice-cube trays.
Get it here! (The Gallium, not the ice-cube tray)
4. Miracle Berries
By themselves, Miracle Berries don’t taste like much. The reason to eat them is that they contain a chemical called miraculin that binds to the sweet taste receptors on your tongue, changing their shape and making them respond to sour and acidic foods. Straight Tabasco sauce tastes like donut glaze. Guinness tastes like a chocolate malt. Goat cheese tastes like cheesecake. etc, etc. After about an hour of craziness, your taste buds go back to normal, no harm done.
Magnetic particles suspended in oil never looked so sexy. That’s all a ferrofluid is, and it looks pretty gross until you put it in close proximity to a magnet, at which point it grows spikes all over the place as the fluid flows out along magnetic force lines.
I’d do her… Buy some here.
Inside these sealed glass balls live shrimp, algae, and bacteria, all swimming around in filtered seawater. Put it somewhere with some light, and this little ecosystem will chug along happily for years, no feeding or cleaning necessary, totally oblivious to the fact that the rest of the world exists outside.
EcoSpheres came out of research looking at ways to develop self-contained ecosystems for long duration space travel.
Maybe we’;re all just shrimp, algae and bacterium in someone’s cosmic EcoSphere…
The Gömböc is a self-righting object, which means that no matter which way you put it down, it stands itself back up. It’s like a Weeble, except it doesn’t cheat by having a weight at the bottom, and it’s the only shape that can do this.
The existence of a shape with these properties was conjectured in 1995, but it took ten years for someone to figure out how to actually make one that worked.
I couldn’t really wrap my head around it until I saw it on film, so you can find a demo here:
8. DNA Genotyping
There’s nothing more personal than someone’s own DNA. And there are ways to give the gift DNA that won’t get you children or arrested. With just a little bit of spit, you can get an genotype analysis that will reveal fun insights about longevity, intelligence, susceptibility to diseases, and even food preferences.
While the technology hasn’t reached the point where you can affordably get a complete sequence of an entire genome, looking at specific markers is still good enough to suggest some things worth looking out for while spurring a lively nature versus nurture debate.
9. Klein Bottle
If you want to give a mathematician something to try to wrap their head around, a Klein bottle is a good place to start. A real Klein bottle is an object with no inside and no outside that can only exist in four dimensions. These glass models exist in three, which means that unlike the real thing, they can actually hold liquid.
The difference between the models and the real thing is that by adding an extra dimension, you can make it so that the neck of the bottle doesn’t actually intersect the side of the bottle. Take a couple aspirin and try to picture that in your head.
Not even a YouTube video could make sense of this one fore me.