Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tribute To Mr. Wizard

Late yesterday Don Herbert, the famous Mister Wizard passed away at age 89, somewhat ironically due to bone cancer. For those of you who don't know, for instance, apparently those of you who live in Australia, Mister Wizard was the host of a children's show from the fifties all the way through the Eighties, where he taught young children how to make normal household items explode. Forget Bill Nye, forget Beakman, forget even the Mythbusters — Mister Wizard was the original, and they all owe a huge debt of gratitude to him for pioneering the field of educational science television programming for children, which they later revolutionized.

These days, a show like Mr. Wizard's could not exist. The second he suggested teaching five-year-olds to make a bag of flour explode, his show would be pulled from the air. I clearly remember watching Mr. Wizard work his mojo over chemicals found under the kitchen sink all throughout my childhood, and thus I have always harbored a certain nostalgic loyalty to his memory. So now, at the time of his death, I think it's only appropriate to remember him with a list of some of my favorite at-home experiments Mr. Wizard taught us all to perform.

— How to simulate volcanic eruptions with baking soda and vinegar
— How to transform lead into gold
— How light wave energy can be focused into a tight beam hot enough to cut out a kidney without even making an incision
— How horse hooves are converted into glue
— How to protect your knight's armor with a magic enchantment prior to his journey to defeat the mythical dragon
— Home beer distillery
— How to make a penny float in mid-air by equalizing the pressure inside a vaccuum tube
— Finding the flashpoint of bran
— How to construct a nuclear-powered fusion cannon out of nothing more than a paper towel tube and three toads
— How to replicate a living woman using a bolt of lightning and a computer hooked up to the ARPANet
— How to melt the ephedrine out of cough medicine and turning it into an amphetamine
— Calculate the precise atomic weight of God
— How to gerbils can be used to crush your enemies
— How to protect yourself and your loved ones in the event of a raptor attack
— How to build a time machine out of a transistor radio powered by Pez
— Home cola distillery
— Why a chimp explodes if you stick it in the microwave on "high" for ten minutes
— How to use Jell-O and thickening compound to create goo girls
— How babies are made
— Tinfoil hats block mind-altering electromagnetic waves radiated by the government
— What to do in preparation for The Rapture to ensure it will be sealed properly
— How to create a sculpture of a mountain out of mashed potatoes that "means something"
— How to make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year without ever leaving your home
— How to use Windex to create birth defects
— How to clean oxidation off a discolored quarter by tapping into the dark powers of Satan
— A mouthful of Safeguard soap makes foul language and dirty thoughts disappear
— How to send commands to your swarm of killer bees using highly detailed butt-wiggling movements
— How to identify the presence of a guardian angel and capture it in a mason jar
— How to infect yourself with bone cancer
— How to reanimate your favorite grandmother so she can continue to conveniently pass away whenever you have a major project due in school
— How to combine eggs, flour, sugar, shortening, and vanilla extract to create a giant, sticky mess
— How to program artificial intelligence into a potato using a Texas Instruments calculator
— How to splice genes using select lawnmower parts and create an army of superpowered mutant henchmen
— How to use a vaccuum cleaner's hose attachment to make everyone think you had a hot date
— Why the theory of relativity is bunk and quantum physics rules

God rest ye, Don Herbert; we learned so much from you.

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