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I CAN C MICROBEZ IN DA WATR!

Maybe you’d better GIMIE TEH WATR DAT COMEZ IN BOTTLE PLZ! If you did a mashup of LOL cats, Mystery Science Theater and your 10th grade Biology class, it would look exactly like this makeshift science experiment in which a green laser was shined through a drop of scummy water. (See the clever home-hacked setup here.) And, revisit the 1933 version as documented in our post last year, When Protozoa Came to the Big Screen.

Grossed out? DOAN WORRY DIS ISNT TAP WATR THAZ MEANT 4 DRINKIN.

Bust a Move At Your Next Science Fair

Electronic Music combined with a lecture on the electrolysis of water? There’s probably only a handful of people in the world who can appreciate this. I’m proud to say I’m one of them! This is science with a great beat you can dance to, so get up, get on the floor! (Before you go there… the geek truth patrol has already debated the finer points on the video’s YouTube page.)

Timesaving tip: the impatient are advised to skip ahead to the 2:00 mark where the pace picks up considerably.

Behold, The Fantastical Anti-Water Device

What if? What if there were a technology that repelled water, similar to magnets with like poles? And, what if there were a talented 3D animator who attempted to visualize the fantasy applications for such a thing?

We don’t have this technology, but we do have the mind-bending visualization via Roy Prol. Though the “Anti-Water Device” is imaginary, the visual “what if” is still stunning and breathtaking. Water towers, dams, umbrellas, underwater tunnels, even weapons of war are re-engineered and rendered in the beautiful fantasy sequence.

As is common in the land of YouTube, the comments can be as entertaining as the video. Of course, it did not take long for armchair scientists to jump into the fray:

  • “Wouldn’t such a device also reject humans and other animals, since we are made out of 60% water? Cool animation tho.”
  • “what powers it? what if there would be a power failure in the tunnel, or if someone used a EMP on a dam over a city, then the city would be destroyed xP”
  • “what if a bird shits in the water tower? ;)”
  • “If it was possible, it would be a solution to the tsunami.”
  • “Nonsense and completely against known physical laws. As per Newton’s third law, every action has a reaction – so the force with which this device repels water would be also applied against it. That would crush the device in the underwater tunnel due to the force of several tonnes of water. And it would make the ‘bomb’ go straight up because it repels water and water repels it, but it has a much smaller mass.”

Leading the creator to emphasize and remind everyone that,

  • I know action-reaction principle very well, and I know lot of physics too….. But this is just imagination!!!

It might be bad science, but it’s good creative ingenuity and a great escape!

When Protozoa Came to the Big Screen

Fierce and cannibalistic! The battle to the death will be primitive and unmerciful! This is not a sensational film coming to your local multiplex, but a way-back look back at 76-year old street science.

These days, we can watch protozoa battling on screen whenever we’re online, but in 1933 this was shocking, amazing stuff! The article from the February, 1933 issue of Modern Mechanix covers the jaw-dropping marvel that awaited visitors to that year’s World’s Fair Hall of Science…a protozoa death-match unfolding in a single drop of water. (Side note: deflation! Was 25¢, now 15¢!) The article in its entirety:

Screening Fierce Battle in Drop of Water

YOU might not believe it, but ferocious and cannibalistic battles are staged every moment of the day in the drops of water that make up the rivers, lakes and oceans of the world.

A few of these battles are to be brought to the screen for the amusement and amazement of visitors to the Hall of Science at the 1933 World’s Fair. What will make this feat possible is a special projector which throws on the screen in a greatly magnified scale what is seen at the eyepiece of a powerful microscope.

Drops of water containing various species of unfriendly protozoa will be joined on the slide under the microscope connected with the projector. The battle to the death will be primitive and unmerciful, for protozoa are hungry and they ask no quarter and give no quarter. The artist’s drawing above shows how the projector and screen will be rigged up for the show.

And looking closer, the devil really is in the details! What are these creatures doing battle? Are there any microbiologists out there who can identify these “unfriendly protozoa?

Detail: Two unfriendly, unidentified protozoans

Not having any microbiology reference works available, our “research department” turned to a freely available tool, the Tin Eye reverse image search engine, which diligently checked 1.12 billion images but failed to find anything quite like it across the wild, wide expanse of the Internet.

Let’s Make Water! Our Naive Hope for the Future

Water Factory by Giuseppe Marcesa

Who places the greatest faith in the ultimate power of science? All the non-scientists, of course! This is why many people don’t worry too much about climate change, water scarcity, fossil fuels, or whatever. Because deep down, we’re SURE that SCIENCE will eventually crack the code with a huge discovery that will fix everything. (Just a matter of money and desperation, correct?)

The right brainers of the world might understand this, but the science-ignorant populace (myself included) have a nagging stupid question: Why can’t we just manufacture some water, cooking up a new mashup of hydrogen and oxygen that will spill forth plentiful bounty from the advanced process water factory?

For the answer, we turn to Why can’t we manufacture water? at howstuffworks.com.

Water is made of two hydrogen atoms attached to an oxygen atom. This seems like pretty basic chemistry, so why don’t we just smash them together and solve the world­’s water ills? Theoretically, this is possible, but it would be an extrem­ely dangerous process, too.

To create water, oxygen and hydrogen atoms must be present. Mixing them together doesn’t help; you’re still left with just separate hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The orbits of each atom’s electrons must become linked, and to do that we must have a sudden burst of energy to get these shy things to hook up.

­Since hydrogen is extremely flammable and oxygen supports combustion, it wouldn’t take much to create this force. Pretty much all we need is a spark — not even a flame — and boom! We’ve got water. The hydrogen and oxygen atoms’ electrons’ orbits have been conjoined.

But we also have an explosion and — if our experiment was big enough, a deadly one. The ill-fated blimp, the Hindenburg, was filled with hydrogen to keep it afloat. As it approached New Jersey on May 6, 1937, to land after a trans-Atlantic voyage, static electricity (or an act of sabotage, according to some) caused the hydrogen to spark. When mixed with the ambient oxygen in the air, the hydrogen exploded, enveloping the Hindenburg in a ball of fire that completely destroyed the ship within half a minute.

There was, however, also a lot of water created by this explosion.

STOP RIGHT HERE A MOMENT. Naive question: precision-minded scientists, haven’t you assured us that there is the same amount of water on earth today as there was when the earth was formed? Did the Hindenburg crash, in fact, “create” water? Annnyyywaaayyy….

To create enough drinking water to sustain the global population, a very dangerous and incredibly large-scale process would be required. Still, over a century ago the thought ­of an internal combustion engine — with its controlled repeated explosions — seemed dangerously mad. And as water becomes scarcer, the process of joining hydrogen atoms to oxygen atoms may become more attractive than it is currently. Necessity, after all, is the mother of invention.