Strange worlds around us

Have you ever wondered about how things really work? Not things like the financial system, there is ample evidence no one understands that. But more important things, like bubbles bursting, or how a bowling ball is curved as it flies down the alley. Or how do they make baseballs.I love learning about this stuff. I ran across the television show called How It’s Made on the Science Channel and was immediately hooked. They show exactly what the title says, how something is made. They do shows on everything from springs, to accordions, to playing cards.

Each episode covers 3 or 4 different products, and they basically go into a factory and follow an item from start to finish. They do not always follow the entire process, some things are proprietary processes that the companies do not want publicized. But they do cover the basics, and it is amazing how complicated some things are. A spring is nothing to look at, but is not all that easy to make. But in some ways, the machines that make the springs are even more amazing. I can not imagine how people come up with the designs for the fabrication machines. And the process for creating a steel drum? All of that, to make those simple things?

Another show that is in the same vein, is How Do They Do It?, also on the Science Channel. They tend to cover more intricate things, and have not been around as long as How It’s Made. But they also cover entire processes, like how UPS delivers packages quickly (when they do) or how a prefabricated house is built and delivered. So while there is some overlap, the differences make it another fun show to watch.

Right now my favorite show about things we don’t think about or even notice, is Time Warp. They use high speed video photography to look at things all around us and see what really happens. My favorites so far are watching balloons and bubbles burst. It is amazing to see how the break in the skin travels around the curve surface. The two look amazingly alike, although the balloons do stay more cohesive since they are more solid.

Some things are more interesting than others. The stunt men doing the shooting scene was okay, but the whip end breaking the sound barrier was really neat. And I firmly believe that the women that were doing the fire breathing are crazy. Watching this stuff makes me wish I had an HD TV, because the more details, the better.

I don’t think I liking these shows means I am a geek. I am pretty sure I was a geek long before they were a gleam in their creator’s eye. Now that I think about it, there is a good chance I was a geek before their creator was a gleam in their parents’ eye. But I still like watching them.

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