"Human beings are scary. We breathe a corrosive gas, drink one of the most potent solvents. Our preferred method of hunting was persistence hunting, where we chased animals until their body simply gave up and died. We can eat just about anything we find, which means that we don't need to stop for food when chasing our prey. If we can't find food, that's fine. Our body will simply begin to eat itself so that we don't have to stop chasing our prey. We walk upright, we sweat, we don't have much body hair, which allows us to radiate away our body heat. This means that excessive time or extreme environment wont stop our hunts. If the animal fights back against us, we can take massive damage to our extremities and lose half our blood and still live. Our entire existence is owed to persistence, endurance, and determination. When we put ourselves to a task, it gets done, period. And this instinct is still affecting us today. 332BC: Alexander the Great hits a stalemate with the fortified island city of Tyre. Instead of going back defeated, he builds a kilometer long bridge in order to raze the city. 49BC: Cesar, after defeating the Gauls and invading Britain, turns a political fight into a civil war by invading Italy with only a single legion. He eventually becomes dictator starting a world superpower whose engineering feats are only recently being broken. 1804AD: A charismatic French general declares himself Emperor and sets off to conquer much of mainland Europe. He is captured, exiled, and then escapes. The soldiers sent to recapture him instead lay down their arms and join him. 1961AD: One man decides that we will go to the moon, despite much of the technology to do so not even existing yet. Just eight years later, two humans stand on the surface of the moon and look back upon the Earth. 200 years ago, we didn't have railroads. 100 years ago, we didn't have airplanes. 50 years ago, we didn't have spaceflight. 25 years ago we didn't have the Internet. We've already inherited the Earth and soon we WILL inherit the stars and anyone or anything that stands in our way will be eliminated one way or another."
Hello Visitors from Stumbleupon! If you like this post, please give it a Thumbs up! You might also like this post from BlogCampaigning’s Heather Morrison about her new nerd glasses or this post about Parker’s Favourite Science Fiction books! My dad's an engineer. Back when I got Lego for Christmas he was always amazed at some of it's complexity. I wonder what he'd make of this – I don't know if the person who built this is an engineer, but this is simply amazing!
Twenty-odd years ago, a whole generation of kids grew up tinkering with Commodores, Ataris, and clunky Intel 286s. Back then families shelled out a good chunk of change to participate in The Personal Computer Revolution, hoping to give their kids a head start in the hazy future of computers and electronics. It wasn't all fun and games though. These devices weren't just toys, and they encouraged anyone, adults and kids alike, to delve deeper into their mechanic and electronic underpinnings. For our generation, I hope we also pass on the favour to the kids, to allow them the opportunity to tinker, to think, to come to terms with the future in their own way. Here's the state of the art in exploration, to the delight of kids and adults alike:
For the toddlers, the One Laptop Per Child project's OLPC XO-1 junior convertible tablet takes the crown as the cutest, bubbliest tablet currently not on the market. A few years ago, it was possible to get these laptop/tablets via the Give One Get One program, which donates a device to the developing world for every one purchased. The project has since discontinued this deal, but it's still possible to find these on eBay. However, the best way to get one of these is to participate in the OLPC project itself. The project has loaner models for volunteers, whether as coder, hardware developer, or even evangelist. The hardware itself is fairly hackable, and as the OS is based on Fedora Linux, with large parts of the UI based on Python, it's an easy and early entry point for kids into the wonderful world of UNIX. There is a higher spec "high school" version currently in development: the XO-1.5.
For the curious teen, looking to brag about the biggest, baddest robot on the block, there's the MakerBot:
The MakerBot is a construction kit for the modern age. It's a do-it-yourself, DIY 3D printer. For $950, it allows you to construct objects from models designed on a computer. The base material is ABS plastic, which the MakerBot spits out layer by layer to form the finished product. A video is worth a million words, so here's Bre Pettis, a founder of Makerbot Industries.
For the fledgling adolescent, wanting to know more about why one boy is so different from another, or needing information on coming to terms with family histories of illness, we have the gateway to genetic analysis and biotechnology in the upcoming OpenPCR project. While the science of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is more advanced, the goal remains the same: it's a tool for enlightening and learning about our world. The OpenPCR is a DIY box for replicating DNA, as the first basic step in genetic screening, testing, and analysis. The purpose of the PCR process is to create enough copies of the microscopic DNA from a sample, so that we can visualize it, and use other tools to break it apart or match it for certain patterns. The project is requesting funding at their KickStarter page, which has a good video intro to the process.
Why would kids be interested in this? Because they can use it to prove that they really do hate brussels sprouts, so don't even try making them for dinner.