Engineers, scientists and other supposed great-thinkers don’t often make for interesting copy. Centrifuges, remote sensors, pressure valves and biopsies don’t bring smiles to most people’s faces, unless of course, you’re my mom, who never met a biopsy she couldn’t fret over, going back to Marcus Welby, M.D. To those who don’t understand, like or appreciate scientific thought, even MacGyver is mundane and hopelessly highbrow.
Like all things these days, however, anything is fodder for new media hijinks and in recent years, folks like Bill Nye the Science Guy have brought hair-brain science to the masses in creative ways that get people thinking, if only to reminisce about times long ago spent blowing up their neighbor’s mailbox or bird-house. As the dawn of man has morphed into the dawn of YouTube, we can all agree, explosions are always cool to watch. Lectures on thermodynamics are not.
One particularly fascinating piece highlighted the work of Kinetic sculptor and artist Theo Jansen and his “strandbeests,” giant wind-powered creatures 40 feet in length, made exclusively of pvc tubing, that march along Dutch beaches like mechanical caterpillars. The contraptions are part mouse-trap, part genius – watching his most recent creation is mesmerizing.
The compilation, available on Blu-ray Disc and DVD, also includes a rather nifty special extra feature – six segments demonstrating how to make your own contraptions at home. The mini-segments break down in great detail how to build an air rock, a wind-powered sprinkler and four other ingenious little projects sure to keep you out of trouble and annoy your pets and neighbors.
All in all, a rather ingenious series that puts a bit of whimsy and “cool” into the world of science, contraptions and the mankind’s need to tinker.