Thursday, January 07, 2010

The DIY Chip

The January 2010 issue of The Atlantic contains an article I wrote about the way small, cheap, and easy-to-program computers are turning artists into technologists and technologists into artists. It's about the concept of physical computing, or the way people use computers to sense environments and do great things with that sort of information.

The entire issue of The Atlantic is available for reading online without cost. Read the whole article here, or browse to

How to Build a Double Pendulum

I've written a detailed article describing all things related to building a double pendulum for Make Magazine, issue 22. When Mark Frauenfelder first suggested this project, I wasn't familiar with the device. But the more I found out about it, the more I wanted to make it! They are wonderful, mesmerizing, simple, and complex all at the same time.

Full instructions are in the magazine which will be available in March or April 2010 I think. I've also produced a video that provides a pretty good introduction. Don't worry too much about dimensions: you can make them just about any size and they still look interesting.

This video is posted at youtube

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Job for the next decade: Spider Farmer

A couple of years ago the always cutting edge David Pescovitz of BoingBoing fame gave me a book called Mr. Wilson's Cabinet Of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology. It i s an interesting look at the "off-kilter scientific oddities that challenge the traditional notions of truth and fiction."

Since then I've been wanting to build my own cabinet of wonders. I'm not sure where I'd put it, but I envision a big oak curio cabinet with shrunken heads, an umbrella stand made from an elephant's foot, a meteorite or two, and of course, some large, preserved insects.

Meteorites are readily available on the Internet in in rock stores. The elephant stand is probably not available and the shrunken head sounds hard to get.

The giant preserved insect? They're for sale on the etsy website. They look cool. What's interesting is that their claimed to be raised on spider farms.
The insects used in our framed shadowbox butterfly art have been raised on natural cruelty free tropical farms around the world

Wow,  spider farming. That's a job for Mike Rowe if I ever heard of one.