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Making a Large Laser-Cut Dymaxion Globe

We're enamored by this project by Make Magazine's Gavin Smith: a laser-cut dymaxion globe. After making our own small scale 20-sided globe, we tweak the files to scale up the build on our Universal Laser Systems laser cutter and test using transfer paper to protect our wood sheets from scorching. Find the files for this project on Make!

Awesome Jobs: Meet Mary Beth Wilhelm, Planetary Scientist

Mary Beth Wilhelm is a planetary scientist and astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View California. She specializes in studying areas on Earth that have climates and landscapes similar to those found on Mars -- and that means some of the driest and most remote parts of the planet. She talked to us about what it's like to travel to the coldest and hottest places in the world where, in some cases, rain only falls once every decade.

What exactly does a planetary scientist do?

My work is a combination of fieldwork and lab work and a lot of writing. Way more writing than I ever expected going into the sciences. In my research, I'm mostly interested in searching for the signs of life on Mars. You could describe me as an astrobiologist -- understanding the origin of life on Earth and looking for it outside of Earth.

How can you find life on other planets by looking at Earth?

Basically I use these really Mars-like places on Earth as a testbed to understand how all of the components that make up life are preserved in those types of environments. One of the most Mars-like places is the Atacama Desert. You can look at dryness as a function of precipitation or you can look at it as the availability of water for life. In Yungay, a region in northern Chile, it only rains there once a decade, about 2 - 5 mm. Barely enough to even form a puddle. There's no plants, no lichens or mosses. I'm doing a study right now and don't even see evidence for activity of soil bacteria. Even the coastal city of Antofagasta in northern Chile, which is on the Pacific Ocean, is about 30 times dryer than the Mojave Desert.

How did it get so dry there?

It has to do with the Andes. They're tall and block the trade winds that go from the Atlantic towards the Pacific. Hot dry air descends on the desert. Offshore on the Pacific Ocean the currents come up from Antarctica they're cold and therefore the air doesn't pick up any moisture. It's' been like this for millions of years. It has been Mojave Desert-level dry for a hundred million years, a couple rain storms per year. And then it's been even drier, 100 times dryer than the Mojave, for 10 to 15 million years.

Google Play App Roundup: Island, Framed 2, and JetCrash

You probably want more apps, but more than that, you want the right ones. That's what we're here to deliver with the weekly Google Play App Roundup. This is where you'll find the best new and newly updated apps and games on Android. Just click the link to head right to Google Play.

Island

Android has support for work profiles, which can be used by a business to deploy and manage apps on employee devices. This keeps personal and work data separate, but you can also leverage these features for personal use with Island. This app creates a "work" profile on your device that can be managed to copy apps and run multiple copies in parallel.

Setting up Island is easy, but a little counterintuitive. It creates a "work" profile, but it's not attached to any corporate accounts, and there are no "administrators" who can access your data. The app uses the metaphor of an island to make usage easier to understand. The "island" is where all your cloned apps live. They use the same binary as your "mainland" apps, but the data and accounts are totally separate.

When you start using Island, you get a few stock apps in the list including the Play Store, contacts, and downloads. These are all empty until you start using them, and you will need to log in with your Google account all over. Remember, no data carries over from the mainland. A folder is placed on the home screen with all your Island apps, but you can get rid of that if you don't want to use it.

You can manage apps in your island using the Island app. Use the drop-down at the top to choose either mainland or island lists. To create an island version of a mainland app, just tap on it in the list and hit the "plus" button. The Android package installer pops up briefly to install the app into your island, and that's it. Island apps can be run from the home screen folder, or you can use the app list in the Island app itself. The apps also appear in your app Drawer with a work badge to indicate which icon is which. Apps in your island can also be frozen, preventing them from running until unfrozen.

Island allows you to test different settings and configurations in an app without screwing up your main installation. You might also want to use a cloned app for privacy purposes, keeping that data sandboxed from other apps and services. It can be used to run a second instance of an app side-by-side with the first as well.

Island is a neat app with a lot of potential utility, and it's completely free. It's still in beta, so it's possible some paid features will be added later.

Leonard Engelman Gets Our Vote - Episode 74 - 8/18/17
Today's guest is one of the most iconic and recognized makeup artists in the industry, Leonard Engelman. He has been working professionally for over fifty years and has lent his talent to such films as Rocky, Ghostbusters, Heat and Batman Forever, to name only a few. He has made up some of the most beautiful women in the world inlcuding Cher, Meg Ryan, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sigourney Weaver, Faye Dunaway, Julie Andrews and many more. Leonard also gives us some insight into the Academy's selection process for the makeup category, which is fascinating. If you're digging this podcast, please head over to http://www.patreon.com/creaturegeek and support us with a few bucks. We truly appreciate your support!
00:00:00 / 01:13:31
Logistics of Viewing the Upcoming Solar Eclipse

Are you planning to view the solar eclipse next Monday (8/21/17)? No, I mean are you really planning how you'll watch this rare celestial event? Finding the appropriate solar-filter glasses is just one piece of the puzzle, and certainly a very important one. You should also prepare yourself to be part of an astronomically huge migration of people as millions of sky watchers gravitate to the best viewing spots across the US.

What's Happening

A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's path takes it between the Earth and the Sun. Monday's eclipse is unique because it is a total solar eclipse. Those in the right spot will experience "totality", where the Moon completely obscures the Sun, leaving only its corona fringe visible. The Moon's shadow will cast an eerie temporary twilight in the middle of the day. It's a sort of otherworldly phenomenon that eclipse experts say is worth whatever effort it takes to experience.

True totality will only happen for people who are at the correct latitude to be aligned with the Sun and Moon…i.e. folks inside the Moon's shadow. Viewers at off-axis latitudes will have to settle for a less-spectacular partial eclipse, as some part of the Sun will always remain visible for them.

Over a period of about 1.5 hours, the Moon's shadow will trace a diagonal path approximately 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina. This "Path of Totality" through the US heartland is why many are calling Monday's event "The Great American Eclipse". This presents an opportunity for viewing a total eclipse to the 12 million+ Americans who live within the path of totality as well as the additional millions who plan to travel there.

Adam Savage's New Thracian Warrior Armor!

A massive box filled with packing peanuts and voluminous zip-lock bags just arrived at the cave! That can only mean one thing: time for the unveiling of Adam's newest costume acquisition from Prop Store. This costume has it all: armor, a helmet, shield, sword, and spear--and it's all gorgeously made for a big budget film.