The Nerdy Derby at World Maker Faire New York

The Nerdy Derby is a Pinewood Derby-inspired no-rules* car building and racing competition brought to you by students from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. The first Nerdy Derby will take place on September 29th and 30th at World Maker Faire New York at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. Awards will be handed out for: The Underdog, The Tricked Out, The Delicious, The Not-so-pretty, and The King of the Hill. Everyone is encouraged to build a car to take part in this inaugural event, so get started by checking out the track spec. [Thanks, Sherry!]

*exercise common sense when it comes to safety


1939 ‘Map of Physics’

So cool. Click through for higher rez.

“Being a map of physics, containing a brief historical outline of the subject as will be of interest to physicists, students, laymen at large; Also giving a description of the land of physics as seen by the daring sould who venture there; And more particularly the location of villages (named after pioneer physicists) as found by the many rivers; Also the date of founding of each village; As well as the date of its extinction; and finally a collection of various and sundry symbols frequently met with on the trip.”

[via Strange Maps]


EEG-Actuated Watermelon Exploder

Chris Cprek of Louisville’s LVL1 hackerspace demonstrates a EEG-controlled machine that blows up watermelons.

Brad and I created Mind over Melon. Ever since I was a boy, I’ve dreamed of exploding things with my mind. At LVL1, we now have the technology to make this dream come true. Using a hacked Star Wars Force Trainer, Arduinos, XBees and a solenoid valve, we’ve developed Mind over Melon. It’s a game where you focus your mind to an intense level of concentration; and explode a watermelon. It’s a combination of David Cronenberg’s classic sci-fi film “Scanners” and Gallagher.

If you want to see it in action, watch this video! But Chris and Brad, can haz more details?


Engineer Guy vs. The Lead-Acid Battery


Here, friends and neighbors, is the eighth and final video of Engineer Guy series #4. The element of the week is called plumbum in Latin, abbreviated to Pb on the periodic table, and generally known as lead. Formed into electrodes with its oxide and submerged in sulfuric acid, lead is an essential component in the ignition batteries that start cars and other gas-powered vehicles.

Though the lead-acid cell dates to the mid-19th century, and in spite of lead’s density and toxicity, this technology remains a keystone of modern industrial society, and may well continue in that role for a long time. Bill and company explain this anachronism, and lots more, with all their usual flair. [Thanks, Bill!]


Happy Higgs Boson Day!

A tachyon walks into a bar. The bartender says “Hey buddy, not so fast.”

Happy 4th of July, everybody!  I celebrated today along with the rest of America: by hanging out with friends, throwing some meat on the grill, and discussing the breaking (and long-awaited) discovery of a Higgs Boson particle.

The discovery is touted as “five sigma,” meaning that at five standard deviations from the norm, the chances of it being a statistical fluke are miniscule.  The probability of my friends being total nerds, however, is beyond statistical doubt.

For a great cartoon explanation of the Higgs particle, check out this video by PHD Comics:

And just for fun, Vi Hart’s “Sonnet on a Higgs-like Particle”: