Have Your Cake and Learn about It, Too: The Flavor Museum
Oct28

Have Your Cake and Learn about It, Too: The Flavor Museum

Play with your food. We’re serious. A new museum in Brooklyn, New York, will soon give visitors the chance to spin their own hand-pulled Chinese noodles, watch what happens when a human body digests a sandwich, and explore food and drink in ways we’ve never known before. Peter Kim, the museum’s executive director, says their goal is to use food to “engage the senses.” Our mouths are watering. Bring it on. The Puffing Gun and the MOFAD The museum, called the Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD), first hit the streets in 2013 with a mobile public exhibit called “BOOM! The Puffing Gun and the Rise of Cereal.” The exhibit featured an industrial cereal puffing gun that weighed over 3,200 pounds; the machine heated and pressurized ingredients until they burst into pieces of cereal. You can read more about the cereal gun here. People came in droves to see this exciting machine in 2013; it will be featured as one of the installations at the MOFAD. Food Museum’s Humble Beginnings Peter Kim and Dave Arnold (MOFAD’s founder) started churning up ideas for the museum over ten years ago. Kim, as reported by the Times, felt so strongly about MOFAD that he quit his job and began committing himself to it full-time. He said that in 2012 even, he was “doing Google searches for ‘How do you start a museum?’” Food Chefs & Experts Team Up As the word about MOFAD started to spread, Kim and Arnold were able to pull together an all-star advisory board to continue brainstorming Some of the most illustrious food experts in the country joined, including the food-science writer, Harold McGee and the Croc-wearing celebrity chef, Mario Batali. McGee, Batali, and others discussed GMOs, food labeling, and other hotly debated topics to decide which exhibits would be best for the museum. Some of their debates and discussions, as well as links to other readings can be found here. Arnold’s approach to the discussions is similar to his approach to the museum. He opened one of their meetings by saying that, in the interest of “keeping [the meeting] on a more lively basis, we’re going to let people kind of give and take and talk to each other like they’re human beings.” People in the audience were laughing when he said it, but MOFAD hopes to reinvent our concept of “museum.” Its conversational, responsive environment will make it one of the most interactive museums ever. Funding Dilemma From the Food Industry As is the case with many (okay, just about all) start-up projects, MOFAD faced the the ever-daunting challenge of raising money. NPR said in 2014...

Read More
This Brilliant Solar-Powered Cooler Is Your Next Tailgating Must-Have
Oct19

This Brilliant Solar-Powered Cooler Is Your Next Tailgating Must-Have

We’ve heard some people actually like football season for the football, but we’ll be honest—we’re here for the tailgating, the picnics, the burgers, the wings, the nachos, the beers . . . all stuffed into our favorite (and biggest) coolers. Our coolers have it pretty rough. They get beat up, kicked around, left in the sun, used as kicking posts for your angry brother and resting stations for Uncle John’s bigger-than-average behind. Their task of keeping our beers cold for more than a couple hours sometimes seems impossible, and we usually end up bobbing for cans in a pool of lukewarm water that used to be ice. But fear not, thirsty comrades: There is hope in solar-powered coolers. Keeping Your Drinks (and That Klondike Bar You Hid for Later) Ice-Cold The solar-powered coolers invented by nipi can rest on hot pavement, the lawn, or underneath Uncle John on the hottest of days while maintaining a Coors-friendly “Cold as the Rockies” internal temperature. In fact, the nipi can keep ice cold for an astonishing six days. Bring on the overtime. The Brilliant Design and Concept of the Solar-Powered Cooler We’ve gotten used to a high-tech world and demanding high-tech solutions. By utilizing 3D printing, nipi’s solar-powered cooler stands with the best. The cooler’s main body, rigid tires, treads, and handles are all 3D printed using sturdy materials. Additionally, the cooler uses photovoltaic solar panels that can generate six watts of power and store that power in two 14,000-mAh lithium batteries. This technology enables the cooler to keep its contents cold, power its innovative lighting system, and charge electronic devices. Its solar panels are customizable, too, so users can have up to three panels on each cooler. With three panels, it is possible to fully charge a cell phone in about twenty minutes. But Wait . . . There’s More (and You Can Afford It) In addition to its four USB ports, self-draining cup holders, cutting board, and internal and external LED lights, the nipi cooler also features a waterproof storage area perfect for guarding anything you want to keep safe and dry. The initial Kickstarter campaign for nipi made the coolers available for $160. Compare this cost to a YETI Tundra 110 cooler, which holds the same number of beers (about 65), but sells for a staggering $499.99. New Launch Date Unfortunately, nipi announced in September that they’ve decided to cancel their campaign and launch an improved model next year. You can still follow their progress on social media. Do you have any suggestions for the new and improved cooler? Write them in the comments section beneath our...

Read More
The Invisibility Cloak Steps Into the Light
Oct09

The Invisibility Cloak Steps Into the Light

  We humans have long hailed ourselves as the most evolved, most intelligent, most all-around-awesome species ever to walk the earth. And, okay, to be fair, we are pretty darn impressive. Thumbs, speech, logic, and the ability to make fire and build skyscrapers—we’ve got a whole lot that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. However, there is one thing we have yet to master—one thing that tops the list of “things we wish we had”—invisibility. A number of other organisms have become virtuosos of invisibility, camouflaging their bodies to mimic other species and their surroundings. And we are so freakin’ jealous. Until now. Scientists at the US Department of Energy and UC Berkeley have developed technology for a super-thin material that can actually hide an object from visible light. The material has a long way to go before it can be considered a full-fledged invisibility cloak, but we’d like to officially notify the chameleons, octopi, and jellyfish of the world to enjoy the spotlight while you still can: We’re coming for you.     Invisibility as a “Mirror Effect” The scientists, working at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, assembled their material by weaving microscopic nanoantennae into the ultrathin skin of an electromagnetic metasurface. This became an 80-nanometer-thick sheet that could be placed over an object; the first “object” they chose was a cluster of bumpy, mountainous cells. When placed over the cells, the magnetized sheet redirected all visible light waves, making the object appear smooth and flat (like a mirror) to the human eye. When the scientists reversed the polarity of the nanoantennae, the object became visible again. It’s easy to imagine this technology placed over a larger surface (a person, for example); the redirection of light waves would totally disguise the wearer, just as it did the cluster of cells. From Science Fiction to Science There has always been a connection between science fiction and actual science. The two often feed into and from each other. From flying machines to ultrasonic drones to 3D-printed hands, we’ve proven our ability to bring science fiction to the real world. Scientists are now close to pulling the abilities of The Invisible Man and Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak out of our imaginations and into reality. “I Solemnly Swear I Am Up to No Good”: Relevant Questions about Invisibility Considering this technological leap, we now face the ethical and utilitarian questions of invisibility: What should it be used for? Who should be allowed to use it? Should there be legal stipulations to using the material? How should (or could) invisibility be monitored? There are obvious militaristic applications (real-life Predator, anyone?),...

Read More