Unasked Questions? Fried Chicken wing.

September 12, 2010 - No Responses

I went to a BBQ on Saturday, naturally it rained! As a result we had the BBQ in the carport, along the roof of this carport there were strings with clothes pegs clipped too them, obviously for drying clothes on days like these.

As an experiment I clipped a cooked chicken wing to one of the pegs about 4 feet above the food laden table and sat back to observe (I have such an exciting life).

I  Idly wondered:

  • How many people would see it and ask why it was there?
  • How many people would see it,  but not say or do anything about it?
  • Would anyone actually take it down?

Over the next half hour most present saw it, looked puzzled for a moment then continued with what they were doing.

Basic Stats of those there old enough to talk;

  • ages 24 months to 63 years.
  • 50:50 boys to girls
  • 50:50 adult to children

it took half an hour before my Granddaughter turning four who had been sitting on a step looking at the chicken wing, clearly demanded to know why it was there.

I simply told her it had been flying in the rain and we were just drying it before it continued – she looked at me, said “granddad, you are a retard dork’ and went off to play.

suddenly everybody was making bad jokes about it, but i wonder how long it would have sat there, ignored?

Do we start losing our ability to question as we get older, does politeness over ride the need to know, do we just start to accept things as a baby does?

Would YOU have questioned the chicken wing?

Archimedes mirrors – again!

September 5, 2010 - One Response

Good old Mythbusters, even the old shows are great to watch repeatedly.

I saw the Archimedes mirrors episode again and it set me to thinking on its possibilities.

A theory for consideration springs to mind (well at the least sluggishly flows) :

The translation or the telling of the deed may have been slightly off and the mirrors (shields)  NOT used to start fires but were used to blind the invaders by reflection in order to increase the effect of Greek fire / hurled or catapulted pitch fire balls.

Flames would be harder to spot giving the fire a greater chance of catching properly. Incoming projectiles would be harder to spot and deflect / dodge while return fire from the ships would be disrupted and commanders, easily targeted (due to dress), would find it harder to properly observe if constantly being blinded.

Similar tactics were used in WW1 and 2, with high power spotlights used at sea to blind enemy ships and on land to pinpoint and blind bomber aircraft.

So… what do ya think? busted, plausible?

Worth an experiment by someone?

Could be fun to use as an excuse for an reenactment battle, I wonder if Govt funding would be available?

Times are a changing…

August 1, 2010 - One Response

Last night I was reading a sample chapter of “The Boy Scientist” that I found  while tidying documents on the computer. It gave an insight into how things have changed over the years and how things are changing for the umm better?

The book suggested that science equipment , being so cheap and easy to get (bunsen burner less then fifty cents – new!) made the exploration and experimentation by children (well boys anyway as the girls should really be learning the arts of cooking, sewing and housekeeping :-) ) accessible to all.

Chemicals could be bought by anyone cheaply and easily at the local chemical supply or the chemist would order it in for you – restrictions,  what restrictions?

Oh by the way, dont forget to pack the sides of your burner with asbestos for safety…

I loved that bit,  it shows that the safety police, ahem, I mean the hardworking concerned citizens that wish to restrict and regulate  us from anything and everything that may cause harm (like  showering in the nude in case we might see a naked sex organ) were yet to awaken.

o.k the safety police were right on the asbestos… But I wish to point out that it was the science ‘Experts’ who used asbestos in their laboratories  and designated it as safe for use as things like DDT and thalidomide.

Lay off the layman scientists!

May 22, 2010 - One Response

Articles like this appearing at http://www.country-wide.co.nz/article/3738.html are not only disappointing, but are unthinkingly damaging to many Amateurs who are diligent and put in time and effort on research, often being ignored by established scientists and not having access to the resources of the govt-uni funded.

Independent soil scientist Dr Doug Edmeades is warning farmers to watch out for fertiliser salesmen using common myths to promote their products.

Edmeades, of Hamilton-based AgKnowledge, says the fertiliser industry is riddled with amateur scientists who rely on misconceptions to make their products look good.

He says one of the most commonly quoted myths is that the majority of solid fertiliser phosphate is locked up or “fixed” in the soil.

Scientists used to believe that fertiliser-applied phosphate reacted with some soil compounds or minerals that would lock the phosphate up and never release it for plant growth. This was referred to as P fixation.

It seems that when a amateur scientist has a theory or idea that is wrong it is a misconception, myth or fraud. Yet no mention of these transgressions are made when the ‘main stream’ scientists get it wrong and were promoting the idea, then it is a Theory or educated hypothesis.

Maybe I am reading too much into the article which is really only trying to help farmers – however considering these same scientists cannot explain the fundamentals of the existence of the universe, what is consciousness, life, the appreciation of a visual object or sound, what the appendix is for, what came first the chicken or the egg and much more…I think dumping on the amateur is rude.

frankly someone selling a shoddy product or idea is simply a shoddy, poor or dishonest salesman and at that, as such, can be either professional or amateur.

The KIWI invasion

April 9, 2010 - 2 Responses

It seems that no matter where you go in the world you seem to find certain people. It may be racism, stereo-typing or coincidence  but there always seems to be a Indian family running a store, a Asian running a food joint, some street or monument named after a Scotsman and a Irishman is somewhere in the mix.

One of my favourite shows  is  the cartoon ‘Pinky and the Brain’  They have two catch phrases…

Gee, Brain. What are we going to do tonight?
The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world.


Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?

I Ponder on how much of the planet Kiwis have spread over (infected?).

They used to publish maps that showed the spread of communism in red, I thought it would be interesting to take a world map and mark every place in the world there is a kiwi living in black, not just the big places, but every little speck on the earth.

There would have to be rules for the reporting, feel free to suggest improvements to the idea or to participate.

Some suggested rules:

  • The Kiwi must be born a Kiwi, or have spent at least 10 years in New Zealand.
  • The Kiwi must be living or working in the area, not just quickly visiting (perhaps there could be two maps, one where Kiwis have been, the other where Kiwis are)
  • There must be proof of some sort that the Kiwi is there – as sadly there are always people willing to spoil anything and the project will only be of use if the information is verifiable and correct.

Anyone who wants to participate in organising or has suggestions on this drop a comment :-)

Amateurs need to link together…

March 19, 2010 - 8 Responses

the CAMLABZ website is currently unavailable as it gets a revamp, should be ready for business some time in ??? Dang prices and items keep changing – fast as it is changed…sigh…computer savvy i’m not! – am a Southlander, short arms – deep pockets, but looks like I am going to have to hire someone at this rate.

Amateur Scientists are everywhere, most of them don’t realise that is what they are. To them it is just a hobby or they are part of a group. There is a lot of information going to waste out there, the Internet is a wonderful tool that needs to be utilised more.
Networking, people interfacing exchanging ideas and information. This is a scientists holy grail.
Sharing what you learn is important, even or especially the bad things and mistakes as these are helpful to somebody at some time.
You may assume that your own little projects and interests are of little value to anyone else, but to others working along or on similar  lines contact and comparison can turn into friendships, businesses and discoveries.
People who are watching and mapping the quality of local waterways can get together and provide a real life and accurate picture of the health of NZ
Simply reporting the sighting of a native bird, amphibian or fish can help show effects of pollution, predation by pets/pests, effects of urbanisation and other factors on the population levels.
Come on people… write in, a bit about yourselves and your projects, send some photos.  Let us hear from already established projects wanting more help, and ideas for new projects where interested people can get together.

March 15, 2010 - 2 Responses

I  not only run CAMLABZ  but am also an amateur scientist. I have many interests from personal theories on the formation of the universe – Don’t we all? – right down to simple Microscopy, Carnivorous plants, bugs, Peoples behaviour and much more – my interests tend to jump around considerably.

Science Equipment for Trade

If you are looking for Science equipment but don’t want to shell out the old hard earned, then have a look at the ‘TRADE GOODS’ page. This page will let you get rid of old or unwanted equipment in exchange or part exchange for shiny new equipment  :-)


I hope any other Amateur Scientists / Inventors will feel free to write in and comment, perhaps share some of their ideas and projects, perhaps start some collaborated work.  The internet along with google maps is a powerful tool that just demands such teamwork. Amateurs all over the world are making very real and important daily contributions to science.

A rant about ‘Amateur’ detractors….

Many people scoff when the word ‘amateur’ comes up in the same sentence as science, they think of those idiots who claim to have discovered fusion with a piece of copper wire and a old transistor radio. Or maybe the idiots who just like blowing things up… not that blowing things up ‘scientifically’ isn’t fun, but if all you want is the big bangs and you hurt people or property, that isn’t science, it is sadism and vandalism and such behaviour is  usually performed by people who don’t stop to think and reason, a requirement of science, even amateur science.

I am not a name dropper, but just a few ‘Amateur’ scientists have included;

oh… Einstein, Newton, Galileo, Archemedies,  Franklin, Edison, bell, Wright brothers,  Mendel, Faraday,Ford

of course it can be argued that many of these turned professional or had professional training, however often their greatest discoveries were of their own or in areas of interest not employment – wasn’t one employed as a patent clerk?

An amateur is not dictated to by policy, often spends more time on a project then a professional and does it not to survive, but from a desire to accomplish or  a love of the game – this description could equally represent a Olympic hopeful, a pre-professional Allblack or the lady in Dunedin who sets out corrugated iron for Lizards to be able to hide and live free from domestic pets that kill them – the guy with 25 aquariums and 20 years experience breeding guppies – the woman who takes in injured sea birds and nurses them, rehabilitates them and reintroduces them into the wild – the group that puts in a natural wetland area on a farm to encourage sustainable farming – the weird pasty skinned guy that is up all night with a telescope and the kid who builds a worm farm and learns how neat and efficient nature is…

these people may often learn more on their pet projects without formal training then many professionals as  often the professionals have to take work as funding permits rather then for what truly interests them.

So What is Amateur science in NZ?


  • Developing new (cultivars) plant varieties
  • Inventing in the garage
  • Tracking monarch butterfly migrations
  • Counting native bird nesting sites
  • Testing water ways for nitrates / pollution
  • Improving fuel mixes for model rockets
  • Reporting whale / shark sightings
  • Testing new home made organics for insect repellents
  • Meteor searching
  • Fossil hunting
  • Prospectors
  • etc…

These are all done by people working away adding to the store of knowledge, small or large  contributions from people of all skill levels, back grounds, skin colours and religions.

We need to hear from more amateurs please write in