Lots of new content in the Science Room!


We’ve just added a bunch of new content to the Make: Science Room. In “General,” we added Bob’s brief on how to set up and keep a proper lab notebook, in “Chemistry,” we added Section 12 on the fine art of studying reaction rates in chemical processes, called “chemical kinetics,” and in “Forensics,” we take a look, a VERY close look, at hair and fiber, the bane of violent perps everywhere.

You learn a lot of interesting stuff working with these labs (ah… or editing them). For instance, did you know the different classifications for the types of hair found on a dog? Me neither:

Animal hairs are more differentiated by somatic region and purpose than human hair. Animal hairs are classified as members of four broad types:

* Guard hairs form the outer coat of the animal, shed water, and protect the inner hair and skin
* Fur or wool hairs form the inner coat and provide insulation
* Tactile hairs, also called whiskers, are found on the head (the snout or ears), where they provide sensory functions
* Special-purpose hairs, such as tail hairs and mane hairs, whose morphology may differ substantially from the main body hairs of the animal.

[From: Laboratory 6.4: Study the Morphology of Animal Hair]

And did you know that human and animal hair have different “scale patterns” that can be used in identifying the source head/body?

Figure 6-7 shows the three major types of scale patterns. The imbricate scale pattern is a flattened wavy pattern that is commonly found on human hair and many types of animal hair. The coronal scale pattern is a crown-like pattern that resembles a stack of paper cups, and is normally found only on very fine hair. Coronal scales are found on many types of animal hair and are very rarely present on human hair. The spinous scale pattern is a petal-like pattern made up of triangular scales that protrude from the cuticle. Spinous scales are found in the proximal (root) region of the fur hair of some animals, including bobcat, chinchilla, fox, lynx, mink, mouse, otter, raccoon, rat, sable, sable, seal, and sea lion. Spinous scales are never found in human hair.

[From: Laboratory 6.3: Make Scale Casts of Hair Specimens]

My favorite excerpt from the new Forensics labs (from Laboratory 6.1: Collect Hair Specimens):

Real Life
The three example lines at the top of Table 6-1 are real data, from Robert’s stocking cap. The short gray hairs are his. The long black hairs are almost certainly either from one or both of our Border Collies or from Barbara, whose hair is naturally black. Barbara asked Robert who the blond hair belongs to. Uh-oh.

Make: Science Room: fomenting marital strife since 2009.

Make: Science Room >>

Introducing the Make: Science Room
Building the Make: Science Room: A Personal Perspective

In the Maker Shed:


Don’t forget, there are TONS of new DIY science-related products in the Maker Shed! They have everything you need to set up a fairly sophisticated home science lab. Check out their impressive Science Room section.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at garstipsandtools.com.

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn
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