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    Visualizing Energy Inside a Microwave Oven!

    Have you ever wondered why your microwave oven has a rotating turntable, or what exactly makes water boil inside a microwave? This week, we're joined by Zeke Kossover from The Exploratorium to demonstrate an experiment that visualizes microwave energy in the form of a light show. Plus, we show how glass can absorb microwaves by melting a soda bottle!

    Hamilton and The Three Body Problem SPOILERCAST! - Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project - 3/01/16
    The latest book we're gushing over is Liu Cixin's The Three Body Problem, a science-fiction story with ideas that blew our minds. Adam, Norm, and Will review the book and discuss its concepts in a Spoilercast! Adam also talks about his current obsession with Hamilton: The Musical, and we hear Norm's best segue yet.
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    Adam Savage's 'The Martian' Spacesuit Project

    It's no secret that we've been enamored with the spacesuit from The Martian. From the moment we saw the costume in the film's first teaser trailer, we were impressed by designer Janty Yates' imagining of near-future NASA gear, and special effects studio FBFX's ability to bring those designs to reality. It's no surprise then that Adam has been looking forward to building a replica of the costume. But it's not going to be easy--it's a project much bigger in scope than a One Day Build. It's a project that's going to take many months, and we want to bring you along for the build.

    Over the course of this year, Adam and Frank Ippolito will be working on building their own The Martian spacesuit replicas, using the processes and materials of the original fabricators. We've been given unprecedented access to one of the costumes to document and create reference, but that's only the beginning. There will be more research, experimenting with materials, and a whole lot of prototyping, building, polishing, and finishing work. Every month, we're going to show you the progress of Adam's suit replica, with in-depth videos for the Tested Premium member community. In this new video series, you'll get to see every new discovery, every part of the fabrication process, and yes, all the mistakes as well.

    We're excited to show and share for the first time Adam's entire replica building process for a prop of this complexity. It's not going to be easy. Failure may be an option, but one thing's for certain: this is going to be fun! Join the Tested Premium Member Community today to follow along with this build and get exclusive updates!

    Replicating 'The Martian' Spacesuit, Part 1: Building Reference

    Adam Savage has been granted unprecedented access to one of his favorite movie costumes: the spacesuit from The Martian. Over the course of this year, Adam aims to replicate the spacesuit, keeping as close to the original as possible. The first step is to study and document the prop, creating reference through photos, sketches, patterning, and even photogrammetry! (Bring home The Martian on Blu-ray™, DVD & Digital HD today.)

    Watch This Animated Short: "We Can't Live Without Cosmos"

    This 2014 animated short from Russian director Konstantin Bronzit is nominated for an Academy Award, and tells the poignant story of two best friends who have dreamed since childhood of becoming cosmonauts. It's a story told without a single word uttered, but says volumes about friendship, humanity, and the loneliness endured by the brave men and women who put their lives at stake in pursuit of the final frontier.

    Breaking Glass Panes with Car Speakers!

    In our second episode of Simple Feats of Science, Zeke Kossover from The Exploratorium demonstrates how to use cheap car speakers to break a pane of glass. Unlike shattering a wine glass with sound, this experiment uses a low frequency of sound that won't hurt your ears. Watch that glass bend and then break!

    Studying How We Type with Finger Tracking

    Aalto University recently conducted a story about the correlation of finger and eye movement with performance (speed and accuracy) for everyday typing. 52 tracking markers on subjects' fingers were recorded at 240 frames per second, alongside 30fps eye-tracking data to analyze which fingers are used to press which keys, and the differences in typing strategies. The researchers found several surprising results, including that self-taught typists can reach the performance of touch typists, even when using fewer fingers and "hunt-and-peck" techniques.

    In Brief: The Physics of OK Go's Zero-G Music Video

    Yesterday, OK Go dropped their latest music video, Upside Down and Inside Out, which was shot entirely in an airplane making parabolic flights. The result was a stunning choreographed performance in simulated zero-gravity, running over three minutes long. Watching the jaw-dropping video isn't enough to give you an appreciate for the amount of prep work and logistics that was needed to film the piece--three weeks in Russia (by the Cosmonaut Training Center) to design, rehearse, and perform the video. OK Go shared the making-of process in the music video's FAQ page, which explains how each take of the video consisted of eight periods of weightlessness, lasting 27 seconds each. For the physics of how a production team could film with those constraints, Wired's Rhett Allain and Slate's Phil Plait each explain the science of the music video stunt. Astronauts on the ISS, the ball's in your court.

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    Destroying a Soda Can with a Ping Pong Ball!

    We're introducing a new series this week demonstrating Simple Feats of Science! Kishore and Norm are joined by Zeke Kossover from San Francisco's Exploratorium science museum to show how you can destroy a soda can with a ping pong ball moving at almost the speed of sound! (Thanks to the Exploratorium for sharing with us these experiments.)

    What it Takes to Keep a B-29 Superfortress Flying

    Last month, we looked at the dedication and financial resources that are required to keep a WWII-era P-51 Mustang in flyable condition. It is definitely not for the meek or frugal. As civilian-owned warbirds go, the P-51 probably represents the middle of the road in terms of overhead. Many aspiring warbird owners seek former trainer and liaison aircraft because they are generally much easier and less costly to maintain and operate than fighters. At the opposite end of the scale are large, multi-engine transports and bombers. While there are a few of these pricier treasures in private hangars, they often demand resources that only a diverse and well-funded organization can provide.

    When it comes to WWII airplanes, few are bigger and none are more complex than the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. I recently had an opportunity to get an up-close look at FIFI, the only airworthy B-29 in the world. The airplane was at the Vintage Flying Museum in Fort Worth, Texas undergoing off-season maintenance. Just by seeing the huge airplane in the hangar with its massive engines uncowled, it was immediately obvious that it takes a tremendous operation to keep her flying. I later spoke with Kim Pardon and Brad Pilgrim from the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), the nonprofit organization that has owned and operated FIFI for more than 40 years. They were able to provide an insider's perspective of what's involved to keep FIFI in the air year after year.

    Rininger – Keeping FIFI airworthy is a huge financial commitment. All things considered, each hour of flight costs about $10,000. (Photo courtesy Tyson Rininger/Commemorative Air Force)

    Learning About FIFI

    The CAF has numerous WWII-era aircraft operating from various airports around the country…including other 4-engined bombers. Yet, FIFI is the only airplane in your fleet that has a full-time crew. What is it about this airplane that demands the extra resources?

    Brad Pilgrim - FIFI is probably the most maintenance intensive airplane in the CAF's fleet. In order to keep up with the required maintenance and the flying schedule, we have to keep a couple of full-time mechanics on staff.

    Kim Pardon - FIFI is also the only CAF aircraft that generates the kind of revenue it takes to sustain this level of maintenance. Most other CAF aircraft rely primarily on volunteer maintenance. The organization has a lot of dedicated and talented volunteers. Because we (the B-29 crew) travel almost 24 weeks a year we rely heavily on our paid maintenance staff to travel with us and help us fulfill all of our tour obligations.

    Beastcam Photogrammetry Rig Scans Live Animals

    Biology processor Duncan Irschick of UMass Amherst introduces the Beastcam, a four-camera rig that can rapidly take photos of live animals for generating 3D photogrammetry models. The rig, which was conceived of when Irschick found it challenging to 3D model a live shark, can shoot 60 photos in about 15 seconds. The photos are sent through software like Autodesk's 123D Catch and used to study body form in animals and complex movements. Irschick hopes to take it back to Florida to test it on a shark!

    Competition to Make Real-Life Star Trek Tricorders

    The technology imagined by science fiction has driven lots of innovation and interesting research. The Tricorder XPRIZE is a competition to create a device that replicates the functionality of Star Trek's medical Tricorder--one piece of hardware that can diagnose and monitor health conditions.

    Steve Erenberg Collects Scientific Instruments of Yore

    From Science Friday: "For more than 30 years, Steve Erenberg has collected early scientific and medical objects and instruments. Packed with shelves and displays brimming with Victorian medical masks, surreal anatomical models, and futuristic test prostheses, Erenberg's store/museum in Peekskill, New York offers a whirlwind tour of long-forgotten devices. While some items were shams devised by quacks, others represent the best possible treatment for their time. Regardless of its actual function, each item in Erenberg's collection has a unique aesthetic value."

    Tested Chats with Dr. David Miller, NASA's Chief Technologist

    Earlier this year, we had the privilege of chatting with Dr. David Miller, NASA's Chief Technologist, on our Still Untitled podcast. Dr. Miller joined us as part of the Bay Area Science Festival's trip to Alcatraz, where we recorded this podcast episode in front of a live audience. We discussed a wide range of topics, including Dr. Miller's role at NASA, the technological challenges of a Mars mission, the search for Earth-like planets, and much more. Below is a transcript of our conversation, edited for clarity. You can also watch the video of this podcast recording here!

    Will Smith: Welcome to Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project. I'm Will.

    Adam Savage: I'm Adam.

    Norman Chan: And I'm Norm.

    Will Smith: Joining us today we have a very special guest from NASA. We have the CTO of NASA, Dave Miller, joining us. Thank you so much for coming by, Dave.

    David Miller: Thanks for having me, and I can't think of a better place to talk about space exploration than The Rock.

    Norman Chan: Dave, you are the Chief Technologist of NASA--the CTO. Can you give us a little explanation of what you do and what you oversee?

    David Miller: When I first arrived, they told me it's an up and out organization, and I had no clue what that meant. But it really means that is that I focus on long-term strategy and things like technology transfer, how we interact with other companies and transfer the technology we do. We also track emerging space. We also roadmap the various technologies we're going to do. Probably most important, is advising the administrator on all things technology. There's a good, sort of, comparison I can make from The Martian... Who's seen The Martian? Who's read the book? Even better still, that's good. In there, I think he declares himself a space pirate, so let me use that as a way to describe who I am.

    I think of myself as the parrot on the pirate's shoulder. I provide advice to the leadership in the agency, and as long as I keep giving good advice, I stay on that shoulder.

    Adam Savage: It's like, "Awk, want to use ion engines!"

    Return to The Rock - Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project - 12/22/15
    On our recent trip to Alcatraz, we recorded two episodes of Still Untitled in front of a live audience. This second episode features a very special guest: Dr. David Miller, NASA's Chief Technologist. Dr. Miller joins us to talk about the search for Earth-like planets, NASA Spinoffs, and the technological challenges of space exploration. He also shares some weird astronaut stories! (Thanks so much to NASA, Dr. Dave Miller, the US Parks Service, and the Bay Area Science Festival for making this episode possible.)
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    The Challenge of Building Straight Roads on a Spherical Earth

    I drove to Mojave and back from San Francisco for MythBusters recently and took an extra few hours to meander on the beautiful and meditative backroads of California's central valley. Every now and then straight roads that were many miles long would jog one way or another. It didn't even occur to me to ask why, but Dutch photographer (and 2015 artist-in-residence at Wichita's Ulrich Museum of Art) Gerco de Ruijter did, and the answer is freaking cool.

    See what I mean in this Travel and Leisure article about de Ruijter: Mysterious Detour While Driving? It Could Be Due to the Curvature of the Earth

    © 2015, Gerco de Ruijter; Courtesy of the Ulrich Museum, Wichita, Kansas

    If you've learned anything about maps, you'll know the difficulties making flat 2D representations of our planet's compound curved, 3D surface. It's why Greenland looks so freakishly huge on most world maps (the limits of the Mercator projection). Turns out that the problems aren't limited to looking at the Earth from afar. A long, straight road has to eventually correct for the curvature of the Earth, as do property lines.

    I love stuff like this: the macro made tangible by something as mundane as a road we drive on.