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The Late Movies: Mr. Wizard

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It doesn't matter how old you are—almost everyone has a memory of Mr. Wizard. Whether it was on NBC or Nickelodeon's, Don Herbert, the man behind the safety goggles, taught scientific lessons to children for nearly 50 years. There is a really amazing (but sadly not embed-able) series of interviews on YouTube that I can't recommend highly enough. But in the meantime, check out some of his greatest hits here.

Watch Mr. Wizard

In 1951, Don Herbert hit TV sets all across the country as Mr. Wizard, a friendly neighbor who would teach science to children in his home. The first episode aired on WMAQ, Chicago's NBC station. Twenty-eight episodes were taped that year, including this one, where he explains how gasoline engines work.

The Science of Heat

Mr. Wizard uses a $500 bill—fake, naturally—to explain how metal conducts heat faster than paper.

Optical Illusions

In 1964, NBC canceled Watch Mr. Wizard. But not before he was able to explain how our eyes play tricks on us.

Mr. Wizard's World

In 1983, Don Herbert returned to the mainstream airwaves on Nickelodeon's Mr. Wizard's World. (Though he'd spent many years making guest appearances on other shows and remained in the public spotlight.) Check out the intro!

Advertising Mr. Wizard's World

Nickelodeon knew how to hook kids. In fact, as an adult, I still want to know the answer to the question about when to use flash when taking photos!

And I distinctly recall this commercial from my childhood.

The Science of Siphons

Want to know how water can flow uphill? Mr. Wizard knows the answer!




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Why a Howling Wind Sounds So Spooky, According to Science
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Halloween is swiftly approaching, meaning you'll likely soon hear creepy soundtracks—replete with screams, clanking chains, and howling winds—blaring from haunted houses and home displays. While the sound of human suffering is frightful for obvious reasons, what is it, exactly, about a brisk fall gust that sends shivers up our spines? In horror movie scenes and ghost stories, these spooky gales are always presented as blowing through dead trees. Do bare branches actually make the natural wailing noises louder, or is this detail added simply for atmospheric purposes?

As the SciShow's Hank Green explains in the video below, wind howls because it curves around obstacles like trees or buildings. When fast-moving air goes around, say, a tree, it splits up as it whips past, before coming back together on the other side. Due to factors such as natural randomness, air speed, and the tree's surface, one side's wind is going to be slightly stronger when the two currents rejoin, pushing the other side's gust out of the way. The two continue to interact back-and-forth in what could be likened to an invisible wrestling match, as high-pressure airwaves and whirlpools mix together and vibrate the air. If the wind is fast enough, this phenomenon will produce the eerie noise we've all come to recognize in horror films.

Leafy trees "will absorb some of the vibrations in the air and dull the sound, but without leaves—like if it's the middle of the winter or the entire forest is dead—the howling will travel a lot farther," Green explains. That's why a dead forest on a windy night sounds so much like the undead.

Learn more by watching SciShow's video below.

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AFP/Stringer/Getty Images
SpaceX's Landing Blooper Reel Shows That Even Rocket Scientists Make Mistakes
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launches.
AFP/Stringer/Getty Images

On March 30, 2017, SpaceX did something no space program had done before: They relaunched an orbital class rocket from Earth that had successfully achieved lift-off just a year earlier. It wasn't the first time Elon Musk's company broke new ground: In December 2015, it nailed the landing on a reusable rocket—the first time that had been done—and five months later landed a rocket on a droneship in the middle of the ocean, which was also unprecedented. These feats marked significant moments in the history of space travel, but they were just a few of the steps in the long, messy journey to achieve them. In SpaceX's new blooper reel, spotted by Ars Technica, you can see just some of the many failures the company has had along the way.

The video demonstrates that failure is an important part of the scientific process. Of course when the science you're working in deals with launching and landing rockets, failure can be a lot more dramatic than it is in a lab. SpaceX has filmed their rockets blowing up in the air, disintegrating in the ocean, and smashing against landing pads, often because of something small like a radar glitch or lack of propellant.

While explosions—or "rapid unscheduled disassemblies," as the video calls them—are never ideal, some are preferable to others. The Falcon 9 explosion that shook buildings for miles last year, for instance, ended up destroying the $200 million Facebook satellite onboard. But even costly hiccups such as that one are important to future successes. As Musk once said, "If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough."

You can watch the fiery compilation below.

[h/t Ars Technica]


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