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    The History of the Centrifuge

    Sometimes scientists need to break down small things into even smaller things. Blood needs to become platelets, plasma, and cells. Cells need to become organelles. Gases need to become isotopes. One of the best ways to achieve this is to put these items into a centrifuge, spin them around at super high speeds, and use the force of that movement to break them up into their individual parts.

    The first centrifuge was created by Antonin Prandtl, a German cafe owner. According to a biography written by Prandtl's grand-niece, the design of the device, which he published in a polytechnical journal, was for a machine that worked continuously to separate milk from its fat. There is little known about Antonin or his design, but it likely was created sometime during the mid-1800s (possibly around 1850). Much more is known about Antonin's nephew, Ludwig, an engineer and Nazi sympathizer who would eventually become one of the world's experts on fluid dynamics. Ludwig's father, Antonin's brother, ultimately took most of the credit for the design of the first centrifuge by perfecting the mild-separating system and showing it at the 1875 World Exhibition in Frankfurt.

    Photo credit: Flickr user gemmerich via creative commons

    The next big upgrade to the device, and the one that brought the centrifuge into the laboratory, was invented by Swedish Chemist Theodor Svedberg. In his lab Svedberg was studying colloids -- a substance, which, in the simplest possible terms, is made up of matter in one type of state evenly dispersed within matter that is in another type of state. (Whipped cream, for example, is a colloid of gas and liquid.) Svedberg wanted to better understand the (much more complex than whipped cream) colloids he was studying and so he created a device that would separate the colloids out into their individual parts.

    Cooking the Impossible Burger with Traci Des Jardins!

    Adam Savage visits chef Traci Des Jardins at her restaurant Jardinière to learn how the Impossible Burger is cooked. Traci walks us through the making of this veggie burger that looks, tastes, and feels like real meat, discussing the culinary science of how it cooks on the grill. Plus, a taste test!

    The Gabe Bartalos Experience - Episode 66 - 5/5/17
    Frank and Len welcome the incredible Gabe Bartalos to the show this week. You may recognize Gabe's work from cult classics as Leprechaun, Basket Case 2, Gremlins 2 and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. He refined his skills under Tom Savini and Rick Baker before going on to start Atlantic West Effects, a full service FX studio specializing in sculpture, prosthetics and animatronics. In addition to being a special effects guru for over 3 decades, he is also the writer and director of two feature films, "Skinned Deep" and "Saint Bernard" (which sounds awesome, btw). If you're digging this podcast, please head over to and support us with a few bucks.
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    Alien Covenant's Armor, Weapons, and Blood Effects!

    On the set of the upcoming Alien: Covenant, Adam Savage learns about the array of prop guns and knives used in filming by production armorist John Bowring! Adam then stops by the breakaway effects department to see how the various alien, human, and synthetic bloods and fluids are made and used to great effect on screen!

    Adam Savage Incognito: Double Totoro!

    Adam loves wearing his Totoro cosplay at conventions, and is surprised to find another Totoro cosplayer at this year's Silicon Valley Comic Con (also coincidentally named Adam!) We get a look at Adam's extensive upgrades to his costume, and hit the floor in a double Totoro incognito!

    Tested Mailbag: Foam Props!

    It's been a while since we've opened a mystery mailbag, so let's see what's been sent to the Tested office! This package comes from Canada, and holds within some gear that speaks to our prop making sensibilities.

    The History of the Cleanroom

    Science could never get done without the right tools. And all that gear has to come from somewhere. Many of the gadgets sitting on laboratory shelves around the world have histories just as interesting as the discoveries they've made. Each month we're telling the stories of how the most important lab tools came to be.

    There are few more essential tools to a scientist then the ability to keep contaminants out of their research. Dust, microbes, and even vapors can screw up delicate experiments. And as science gets more and more precise, sometimes even a single atom out of place could mean the difference between successful science and total failure. This is why we have cleanrooms. They control the level of contaminated air inside a space and allow scientists to do delicate work without fear that a rogue element will upend everything.

    Willis Whitfield invented the cleanroom in 1962. It was a revolution at the time -- the design schematics for the first "ultra-clean room" even has a patent: US3158457 A. But 1962 wasn't all that long ago. It's hard to believe that no one was protecting their environments from contamination before then.

    Photo Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn

    People were certainly trying. According to a paper on the history of the cleanroom by Daniel Hollbrook, a historian at Marshall University, the earliest people to make an attempt at creating controlled environments were watchmakers. It makes sense if you think about it -- they were dealing with teeny tiny parts that had to move in tandem and even a small speck of dirt would throw off their delicate work. In the 1850s one American watch factory, he says, solved the problem of dirt getting into their watch parts by physically moving their entire company from the polluted city of Roxbury, Massachusetts, to a more rural part of the state. Then they located the actual room where they built the watch mechanics above ground level. It was one of the first instances of an isolated area dedicated to building mechanisms.

    From The Bridge With Kerry O'Quinn - Episode 65 - 4/28/17
    Frank and Len talk to a true living legend - Kerry O'Quinn. Anyone born in the 70s and 80s and is a fan of horror and sci-fi owes Kerry a huge debt of gratitude. He is a writer and publisher of some of the most influential magazines in the industry including Starlog, Fangoria and Cinemagic just to name a few. He talks the inception of these fan mags and also shares some great info about the very first Star Wars Celebration. If you're digging this podcast, please head over to and support us with a few bucks.
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    Adam Savage Behind the Scenes of Alien: Covenant!

    Adam Savage visits the production of Alien: Covenant to learn how Ridley Scott and his creative collaborators bring us back into the Alien universe. In this first episode of our behind-the-scenes series, Adam tours the massive set of the Dreadnought as it's being built, painted, and weathered to life by the production team in preparation for filming!

    Adam Savage Incognito as Chewbacca with C-3PO!

    For this year's Silicon Valley Comic Con, Adam goes incognito in one of his favorite cosplays--Chewbacca! This upgraded Chewie is a bit different than the Wookiee costume he wore a few years back, with a new bandolier, bowcaster, and mask. Plus, Adam rigs up an animitronic C-3PO to wear on his back, complete with custom dialogue!

    Silicon Valley Comic Con and Science March! - Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project - 4/25/17
    Recording later in the week, Adam, Will, and Norm catch up on Star Wars Celebration's reveal of The Last Jedi's teaser trailer, drop some Pete Seeger knowledge, and dive into a Spoilercast discussion of the recent film Passengers. Plus, we get excited for Silicon Valley Comic Con and the Science March this weekend!
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    These Intricate Animatronic Music Boxes are Delightful

    At this year's Replica Prop Forum showcase, we meet Michael Asanuma, who brought a collection of beautiful animatronic music boxes that he worked on at Mccune Masterworks. These displays, while not replicas of movie props, are bespoke kinetic art pieces with eyecatching detail and charming animations. We loved checking them out!

    Last Jedi Trailer and Passengers SPOILERCAST - Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project - 4/20/17
    Recording later in the week, Adam, Will, and Norm catch up on Star Wars Celebration's reveal of The Last Jedi's teaser trailer, drop some Pete Seeger knowledge, and dive into a Spoilercast discussion of the recent film Passengers. Plus, we get excited for Silicon Valley Comic Con and the Science March this weekend!
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    Maker Spaces: Touring Frank Ippolito's Upgraded Shop!

    When we last toured Frank's workshop, he had just moved into a new 2000 square foot space with new infrastructure to support scaled up projects. One year later, we get a tour of his latest upgrades, including custom tool storage, paint spray booth, and digital fabrication machines like 3D printers and a laser cutter!