Category: Uncategorized

Things of Science #328 — Soilless Gardening

I also received this Things of Science unit without the “things”. Page 4 in the booklet (see below) lists the few things you would need to purchase to recreate this unit— a few packets of seeds, a pH indicator and a few chemicals that shouldn’t be difficult to source.

They mention the term hydroponics, and that is the term I had always heard for growing plants soilless. In the 70’s, with people turning their minds both to distant space travel and over population — with the likes of films like (Logan’s Run, Soylent Green and SilentRunning) I often associated the term hydroponics to some sort of future farming, or perhaps growing food on the moon….

I see no reason why hydroponics is any less relevant today as it was in 1968 when this unit was first created.

Scan of the booklet (this is a big booklet, by the way — lots of content):

Things of Science #328 — Soilless Gardening

(Mention of the kit in an old newspaper.)

Things of Science #322 — Buoyancy

Another Things of Science unit that requires very few “things” for the person wanting to re-create it. I received only the booklet on eBay so I have none of the things. But, as with other Things of Science units, the contents are listed (usually) on the first or second page.

Again I am amazed at how “buoyancy” can fill a 24-page booklet and 19 experiments. But as usual Things of Science goes beyond the norms — in this unit covering buoyancy as it relates to ships stability among other topics.

Here is the booklet:

Things of Science #322 — Buoyancy

Things of Science #323 — Chromatography

Things of Science #323 - Chromatography_thingsAnother very extensive Things of Science unit — this time on chromatography. The one I got from eBay did not include all the “things”, but there was some sort of egg-shaped plastic container that appears to have once contained some sort of dye.

I remember learning about chromatography when I was in school and being fairly fascinated by it. It surprised me as a boy to find that what appeared to be a black marker was actually a mixture of violet and green ink. The booklet in this unit goes way beyond (and in much greater depth)the little experiment I remember.

Something else I found browsing the booklet was a little “product placement”. Things of Science was a non-profit. I don’t know what their subscription roster looked like in the 1960’s but no doubt they needed large quantities of the “things” in order to box up and mail out a new unit. Likely, by mentioning a company that provided the material for a unit they got the stuff either for free or at a steep discount. One product named in this booklet is the PAAS company that provided the dye for this unit. Yes, the Easter Egg dying company….

Enjoy this unit:

Things of Science #323 — Chromatography

Things of Science — Probability

Things of Science 38This Things of Science must be newer than the previous ones I posted. It isn’t numbered, The booklet too has gone from the larger 5″ x 6″ format to a narrower 3″ x 5″ (and nicely stapled now).

The “experiments” in this unit read more like math problems (not surprising, I suppose). But, again, like the best of Things of Science, the math is approached very practically — that is, by rolling dice, picking colored disks at random out of a box, etc. So it brings a very down-to-earth understanding of a complex topic.

Here is the booklet:

Things of Science — Probability

White-van Speaker Scam

That was weird! I stumbled upon something called the “White-van Speaker Scam” and knew immediately that I had fallen victim to a scam of sorts like this all the way back in 1984 or so.

I had a crappy ($400) car back then and a job making pizzas at a pizza parlor. I was hanging out in the parking lot when someone came by (in a van maybe?) and he had some car stereo speakers to sell — cheap! The price was something I could afford (I don’t remember what it was, but I would be surprised if they were more than $10 each since that would be about what I could swing back then). Somehow I had decided that for the price I could wire them into my car myself and they could only improve the sound quality (right?). So I bought a pair.

I did install them and I don’t think I noticed any real difference in sound quality. They worked though.

But I suppose in the back of my mind ever since I have been wondering — what just happened? Random speaker sale in a parking lot I guess. Okay.

So then I see this Wikipedia article:

White van speaker scam

…The speaker scam was common in the 1980s…

…To find suitable targets, the van operators set up their con in moderately-trafficked areas, such as parking lots…”

Wait, what? This was a thing?

For varying reasons they need to dispose of the speakers quickly and are willing to get rid of them at “well below retail” prices.

I guess I don’t feel too stupid. As I said, I’d be surprised if I paid more than $10 each — how much could the guy have been scamming me then?

So kids, I have learned to be highly suspect of anyone approaching me to sell something.

If you want a thing, seek it out. If a thing comes seeking you, just politely say, “Sorry, I’m broke.”

Language of Flowers

People have long attributed meaning to flowers. Starting in Ottoman Turkey and popular in Victorian England, the language of flowers, also called floriography, is “a means of cryptological communication through the use or arrangement of flowers.” The meaning assigned to each flower varied, but a consensus emerged for the meaning of common flowers.

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