Latest StoriesMakers
    Adam Savage's Maker Faire 2017 Speech!

    Adam gives his annual Sunday "sermon" to the attendees of Bay Area Maker Faire, and fields questions from the audience! This year, Adam rides in on a beautiful kinetic sculpture by the artists at La Machine.

    Adam Savage's Maker Tour: Stanford Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program

    At SAYAC, Adam learns about an innovative and therapeutic program that designs makerspaces in children's hospitals in order to engage young patients in making and problem-solving. Then, as part of that "maker therapy," Adam helps Aaron, Ryan and Joseph build a doorbell that will help provide some privacy for Tia from all the nurses and doctors coming and going from her hospital room! (This series and tour is made possible by The Fab Foundation and Chevron.)

    Hands-On with Circuit Scribe DIY Electronic Kits

    We check out Circuit Scribe, a conductive ink rollerball pen that launched on Kickstarter. Stephanie and Valerie of Circuit Scribe explain how this pen can be used to teach basic electronics principles, and show us some new DIY kits that make use of these concepts.

    Maslow Lets You CNC in Your Garage for $350

    We welcome Bar Smith and Hannah Teagle to show us their Maslow CNC cutting machine, which comes in a $350 kit. This CNC uses an upright design to hold a 4x8 foot sheet of plywood, and is completely open source. We talk about the goals of the Maslow CNC project and what kind of big things it can make!

    Hands-On with the NeoLucida XL Drawing Tool

    This modern incarnation of a centuries-old drawing tool demonstrates how art and technology have always been intertwined. We chat with Pablo Garcia, creator of the NeoLucida, about the use of optical aids for art and scientific illustrations in the age before photography. Pablo also shows off his new NeoLucida XL, which we test in a drawing demo!

    Frank. Foot. Mouth - Episode 67 -5/19/17
    Frank and Len are doing a solo cast! No guest this week. But a lot of chat about new stuff coming out this fall, like Orville and Star Trek: Discovery and of course, Guardians. Also, Frank and Len discuss cosplayers, more business stuff and Frank tries to dig out of hole he digs for himself early in the show. If you're digging this podcast, please head over to and support us with a few bucks.
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    The Creature and Special Effects of Alien: Covenant!

    Adam Savage explores the massive built sets of Alien: Covenant and chats with visual effects supervisor Neil Corbould about the resurgence of practical effects to complement cg effects in blockbuster filmmaking. Adam also gets up close with some familiar Alien universe props in the creature fabrication workshop!

    Adam Savage's One Day Builds: Chewbacca and C-3PO!

    It's no secret that Adam's a big fan of Chewbacca. So for his newest cosplay build, Adam revamps his Chewie costume to carry an animatronic threepio, as depicted in The Empire Strikes Back. It's going to require a bit of disassembly, engineering, and problem-solving to turn two costumes into one that's still wearable!

    Lab Tools: The History of the Pipette

    Unless you work in a lab, it's possible that you've never seen a pipette in person and only have a vague idea about what it does. But any scientist that has ever worked with liquids will likely say the pipette is one of the most essential tools in the lab. Modern versions of the tool require just a press of a button to pick up a specific volume of liquid and move it. It's a bit like an eyedropper, but with the ability to control specifically how much liquid you are picking up and dispensing. The pipette is most commonly used in genetic research, chemistry, microbiology, and drug development.

    Photo credit: Flickr user gemmerich via Creative Commons

    In what is probably the most horrifying revelation in all of these lab tool histories so far, the reality about life before formal pipetting is that when scientists didn't have proper tools to move liquids around they just used a straw and their own mouths to create suction. According to a paper titled "Hazards of Mouth Pipetting," produced by the US Army Biological Laboratories in 1966, one of the earliest recorded examples of the hazards of using one's mouth for this purpose came in 1893 when a doctor accidentally sucked a bunch of Typhoid bacteria into his mouth. The paper went on to express concern that it was much too easy to inhale vapors, especially from radioactive solutions, even when the liquid being transferred never made contact with a scientist's mouth.

    It's remarkable, given the history of pipettes, that the "mouth pipetting" method managed to continue into the 60s. According to the US Army paper: "the method of avoiding pipetting hazards is so elementary, so simple, and so well-recognized that it seems redundant to mention it." But, nonetheless, the paper goes on to say that only a few institutions at the time had issued rules that forbade scientists from using their mouths to move infectious and toxic materials around their labs. In fact, Manhattan Project scientist Lawrence Bartell accidentally ingested plutonium using this method -- luckily he lived to tell the tale.

    Credit: Sarah Harrop, Medical Research Council

    Scientists certainly had the tools available to them at that time. The earliest pipettes were invented by Louis Pasteur, one of the scientists responsible for proving the validity of germ theory. For a few hundred years before Pasteur came around science had suspected the existence of microorganisms, but had never been able to prove their existence. Pasteur managed to show that microbes were responsible for food going bad by closely studying the fermentation of milk and wine. The result of this research was twofold. First, of course, was his most famous achievement: developing the method of pasteurization, which uses heat to remove bacteria from food. The second was the creation of rudimentary pipettes, know today as the Pasteur Pipette, which he deemed essential to prevent liquids from becoming contaminated when they were moved from place to place in his lab. The new method used thin glass tubes with a rubber bulb at the end, which created suction. Pasteur Pipettes don't have the measuring sophistication that modern pipettes have, but they are still in use today (now also called "transfer pipettes" they're usually made of one single piece of plastic).

    Show and Tell: Makey Makey Invention Kit

    For this week's Show and Tell, Simone brings the Makey Makey invention kit to the office to teach Norm how to turn everyday items into keyboards and game controllers. High fives and furious banana slapping contests ensue. Just another day at the Tested office!

    The Incredible Spacesuits of Alien: Covenant!

    Adam cannot contain his excitement as he visits the spacesuits shop on the production of Alien: Covenant! Meeting with costume designers Janty Yates and Michael Mooney, Adam tries on one of the amazing new spacesuits from the film and sits with Janty to discuss how design works with technology to make these suits possible.

    Adam Savage's Maker Tour: Small Center for Collaborative Design

    Adam stops by the inspiring Tulane School of Architecture's Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design, which marries its students with real-world projects in a post-Katrina world. After watching students work on their current project, Adam visits a local homeless shelter to learn about one of the center's recent builds: an outdoor space that the class conceived, designed and built in just 16 weeks! (This series and tour is made possible by The Fab Foundation and Chevron.)

    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!