Do-it-yourself summer projects for the differently-illuminated:
1. This one’s a washout. The people at Time Travelers say they can teach you how to time travel, but if they can actually do the trick, how come they have such a sucky website? Can’t they run a quick errand to the future and pick up one of those cute little self-contained hand-held workstations they’re going to be selling for $35 at Staples? Those all come loaded with brill page-authoring software.
Okay, okay, so maybe they don’t travel physically. But if can do it mentally, why do they have to charge for their services? Any self-respecting time traveler ought to be able to make a few quick killings at the track or in the stock market, and thereby fund their enterprise for decades to come.thought screen helmet. This design was invented by a guy who read about thought screens in the Lensman novels, which as sources of loony ideas go is pretty benevolent—and by the standards of the Differently Illuminated genre, notably well-written. The guy is happy with his design:
Results of the thought screen helmet exceeded expectations. Since January 2000 aliens have not taken any abductees while they were wearing thought screen helmets using Velostat shielding. See Case Histories and Testimonials.The testimonials are pretty good. So are the excerpts from the Lensman novels, which you should sample if you haven’t previously had direct personal knowledge of E. E. “Doc” Smith’s prose.
4. If you don’t fancy wearing a hood—and in this weather, who would?—here are simple directions for making the classic AFDB, the Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie. Warning: I don’t think this site is entirely serious.
5. If you’d like fashionably accessorize your helmet or beanie, here are diagrams for a pair of UFO-detecting binoculars.6. At Fork-you.com’s “Get Bent” site, you can teach yourself to bend flatware (remember Uri Geller?), using only the power of your mind! The site takes a fine practical tone, right from the start:
You’ll want to collect a lot of unwanted cutlery - otherwise, once it starts working, you’ll end up without a single functional fork in your house. Which is a little bit annoying once the euphoria of bending them wears off. The best ones are those chunky big old-fashioned ones, usually silver-plated brass. It will work with stainless steel ones just as well, but the core metal in a lot of stainless cutlery is really cruddy, and they snap much easier that old-fashioned ones. Whatever the mysterious process is, it certainly stresses the metal, and a snapped fork is very disappointing.
7. If you’re looking for something that has more practical use, here’s how to transmute carbon into iron, using either cold fusion or alchemy.8. For the truly ambitious DIY enthusiast, this site has diagrams and descriptions of the Clem Engine, the classic perpetual-motion engine of urban legend:
Immediately after the inventor had the heart attack and the papers were removed, the son of the inventor took the only working model of the machine to a farm near Dallas. There it was buried under 10 feet of concrete and has been running at that depth for several years.
9. Finally, if you insist on a DIY project that has actually been demonstrated to work, the excellent Circlemakers website has a detailed and well-written three-page beginner’s guide to making crop circles. The results are beautiful.And to clear your palate, a collection of quotes compiled by the Errors and “Science Myths” in K-6 Textbooks and Popular Culture webpage:
Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow; He who would search for pearls must dive below.
Truth comes out of error more readily than out of confusion.
It is one Thing, to show a Man that he is in an Error, and another, to put him in possession of Truth.
The ill and unfit choice of words wonderfully obstructs the understanding.
It is as fatal as it is cowardly to blink facts because they are not to our taste.
Many errors, of a truth, consist merely in the application of the wrong names of things.
When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately, and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition. I doubt if I could do it myself.
I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong.
The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best—and therefore never scrutinize or question.
—Stephen Jay Gould
There are many hypotheses in science which are wrong. That’s perfectly all right; they’re the aperture to finding out what’s right.
Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18.An easily understood, workable falsehood is more useful than a complex incomprehensible truth.—Thumb’s Postulates