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Deep-Sea Eclipse: The Forgotten Voyage of the Ben Franklin

The Apollo 11 Moon landing in the summer of 1969 captured the world's attention and had everyone looking skyward. But while Michael, Neil, and Buzz were swiftly heading away from the surface of the Earth, NASA was also involved with another unprecedented voyage travelling in the opposite direction. Only no one was watching.

The PX-15 was a small research submarine that could safely reach depths of 2000 feet. (image courtesy of The Grumman History & Aerospace Research Center)

A small research submarine, called the Ben Franklin, carried a crew of highly-skilled explorers to locations never before visited by humans. Much like the astronauts headed to the lunar surface, the submariners placed themselves in great danger to expand our scientific knowledge and scratch that uniquely human itch to explore the unknown.

NASA oceanographer, Dr. Gene Carl Feldman, sums up the parallel efforts:

"I grew up in the 60s, a decade of exploration. We were going to the moon and we were going to explore and colonize the sea. The sea was the next frontier just as space was the next frontier.

There were two culminating expeditions: one to the Moon, one to the Gulf Stream. These missions were the ultimate voyages of exploration for their respective disciplines. There was no space mission greater than Apollo 11. And there was no expedition to the undersea world greater than the Ben Franklin. What was amazing was that both of these missions took place at the end of July in 1969."

Grumman marketed the PX-15 for further deep-sea research, but the Gulf Stream Drift Mission was its only significant use. (image courtesy of The Grumman History & Aerospace Research Center)

The Mission

The Gulf Stream Drift Mission was an endeavor with many widely-varying scientific goals. Its core objective was to map and study the Gulf Stream, the Atlantic Ocean's northward-flowing current of warm water that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to Europe and Africa. The effects of the Gulf Stream are wide reaching. It had often been the subject of previous scientific study, including pioneering work by Benjamin Franklin. What made this effort particularly unique is that the 6-man crew and the myriad instrumentation were not housed on a surface ship. Rather, they remained cocooned in a submersible vessel for the entire 30-day voyage covering more than 1400 miles (2250km).

Testing the Sony a6500 Camera for Photos and Video

Tested producer Joey Fameli tests the Sony a6500 in his search for his next camera upgrade. Joey talks about how he uses small formfactor cameras for video production and how an interchangeable lens photography camera like the a6500 would fit into his workflow.

Papercraft with PhysicsGirl, Part 2

Our tiny papercraft rock band is coming together, as Simone, Norm, and guest PhysicsGirl share some stories of theme parks, Harry Potter, and learning different languages via subtitles. Plus, awkward interactions with famous YouTubers!

Let's Build: Papercraft with PhysicsGirl, Part 1

We're joined by special guest Dianna Cowern, aka PhysicsGirl, for a week of building intricate Japanese papercraft dioramas. Dianna talks about how she makes her successful YouTube channel, recent adventures, and how her father was struck by lightning...twice!

Shop Tips: How To Use Spray Paint Nozzle Tips

This week's tip from Frank Ippolito is about actual tips--for spray cans, that is. Frank shows Norm how he uses different nozzle caps for different effects when spray painting props and signage in his shop. Whether you run a large workshop or just work out of your garage, we want to hear your shop tips that you rely on in your projects. Post them in the comments below!

Google Play App Roundup: Peek Launcher, Fire Emblem Heroes, and Glitchskier

If you're going to be supporting app development on Android (and you should), you might as well pay for the best content you can. That's what the Google Play App Roundup is all about. This is where you can come every week to find out what's new and cool on Android. Just follow the links to the Play Store.

Peek Launcher

Most of the alternative home screens on Android are generally similar, but every now and then a developer just goes in a different direction. Such is the case with Peek Launcher. It eschews many of the things that other launchers have, relying almost entirely on T9 text input. It's an interesting minimalist take on the home screen.

When you start up Peek Launcher the first time, you'll get a regular phone dial pad at the bottom of the display and two rows of icons. The icons that show up are predictions based on what you've been using most lately. Newly installed apps will also pop up here. To find an app, just start tapping the keys to spell out the name. So for Gmail you'd tap 4, 6, 2, and at that point you'd probably be left with just Gmail. It filters the list of apps live as you tap.

There are other launchers that include features like this, then there are some apps that just do this alone. Peek Launcher is the only one I'm aware of that is based almost entirely on T9 input. In addition to filtering apps, you can long-press the icons to pin important apps so they'll always show up on the main page. There are swipe gestures too. Drag down to get your Google search bar, and drag up to reveal a full scrollable app list.

Peek Launcher includes options to change the background and button color of the keyboard. It will also change automatically when you set a new background to match the colors. You can set a custom icon pack as well.

This app is still early in its development, and it's changing fast. It is a little light on features right now, but it's free. I'll be watching to see what Peek can do down the line.

Revisiting The Wild West With Norman Cabrera - Episode 58 -2/3/17
CreatureGeek returns for February with one of the premiere makeup artists and sculptors working today - Norman Cabrera. Norman's list of credits are a compendium of the best fantasy and horror have to offer and include such titles as The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, Drag Me to Hell, Kill Bill Voume 1, Hellboy, The X-Files, Harry and The Hendersons and many more. He reminisces about the 80s, the wild west of makeup and working with one of the greats, Rick Baker. If you're digging this podcast, please head over to and support us with a few bucks.
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