Here are the Show Notes for Episode #003 of Make: Talk. Our guest was Forrest M. Mims III.
News of the Week Before we talked to Forrest, Dale told us about his meeting with Rodney Brooks and Patrick Sobalvarro of Heartland Robotics and how they talked about radical changes happening in small-scale, cottage production and the role that makers are having and can have in the future in this arena. (Rodney Brooks is also one of the founders of iRobot and the former director of the MIT AI Lab.)
Dale also talked about the open source hardware event he’d participated in at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He talked about MIT’s Eric Von Hippel, author of the book Democratizing Innovation. In the book, and on this panel, they talked about how innovation so frequently comes out of garages and basement workshops, out of the inspired hands of amateurs, rather than from the highly capitalized efforts of corporate R&D labs. You can read a free PDF copy of Hippel’s book here.
Our First Caller! We also had our first caller to the show, George Hrabovsky, president of the Society for Amateur Scientists branch in Madison, WI, known as MAST. George called in to say hi to Forrest, but Forrest was off doing his daily collection of scientific data, so we talked to George about what he does: Running MAST, doing microbiology experiments, consulting for Mathematica, and storm chasing, among many other things. Being our first caller, he won a Maker’s Notebook.
Forrest on Fire Forrest was a whirlwind of fascinating information and scientific wonderment. He talked about his new column in MAKE, “Country Scientist,” and the solar aureole photos he shows how you can take in his first installment. He also talked about some of the simple instruments he’s made for doing scientific data collection, such as the solar photo occluder rig found in Volume 17 and a sun photometer for measuring atmospheric haze, made from an LED turned into a spectrally-selective photodiode. Details of that device can be found here.
One of the cooler parts of the show was Forrest telling us how he’s gotten his kids passionate about science, and how his daughter, Sarah, has made some novel scientific discoveries about aerosols, with a page on NASA’s Earth Observatory describing them. She flew kites with paper cups suspended beneath them (with Petri dish agar inside) to collect dust samples from the sky above their Texas home. In that dust, she found viable fungal spores that had traveled all the way from Central America (carried by massive fires) in one test and sand from the Sahara Desert in another.
Next Episode of Make: Talk (Friday, March 27th, 12 noon PT, 3:00pm ET) This coming Friday, we’ll be talking to our pal John Park, host of the Maker Workshop on Make: television, contributor to MAKE magazine and Make: Online, and a character mechanic at Disney. We’ll be talking to him about the TV show, his love of coffee and coffee gadgets (he did the “Florence Siphon Brewer” article in Volume 17), and other topics that strike our collective fancies. Also, we’ll be sharing our favorite tricks, tips, and tools for the week, and giving away prizes!
And don’t forget, this is live, call-in radio. The show runs for 45 minutes. Call in during showtime (12-12:45pm PT) and ask questions. The number is: (646) 915-8698. We hope you’ll join us this Friday!