Candy sushi science

A few weeks ago, I got completely lost in the Japanese candy kit part of YouTube. There is a company in Japan that produces kits that let you make miniature versions of food, all from edible sweet materials. YouTube is full of videos of people demonstrating the various kits. Since the kits themselves only come with Japanese instructions, part of the popularity of these videos is pure necessity: if you don’t speak Japanese, you won’t know how it works unless someone demonstrates it. But the kits also seemed like a lot of fun to do, and many of the videos are on crafting channels.

I watched a lot of these videos, mesmerized by the tiny foods and people making these items out of nothing but water and little bags of powder. I also thought they looked a lot like chemistry kits, and that gave me an idea.

So here it is, my own Kracie Popin Cookin video, explaining the science behind the sushi kit. There’s gelatin, starch, and even some molecular gastronomy. Enjoy!

Full credits are in the description of the video.


Etsy Wednesday – Sagan and Feynman poster

Etsy Wednesday logoOMG, it’s Etsy Wednesday again, for the first time in…let’s just not count. I have a week off work to catch up on other things in my life, and one of the things on my long list of neglected projects was Etsy Wednesday. I think I’m going to start cross-posting these to Tumblr as well, so sorry if you follow both accounts. (I also have a musisci Tumblr, which you should definitely follow).

Anyway, Etsy. If I check too often, I never see anything new, so the advantage of neglecting Etsy Wednesday for many, many Wednesdays is that I actually found new cool stuff. Look how awesome!

It’s a poster of Carl Sagan and Richard Feynman, with lots of little Feynman diagrams in the background. I was just discussing both men yesterday, so this was timely. (But then again, they do come up quite often in conversations with other science geeks.)


The poster is made by THEARTofLOGANPACK, who also sells lots of scifi and comib book prints.

Etsy Wednesday – Skinner doll

Etsy Wednesday logo

Another week, another scientifically themed product on Etsy. This one’s… different. It’s a doll of BF Skinner, with pigeons. Skinner is famous for inventing the “Skinner box”, in which animals (usually pigeons) learn the correlation between pushing a button and receiving a food reward. His other pigeon-related work involved developing a pigeon-guided missile for World War II.


Also available, from the same store: Marie Curie, Galileo, and Pavlov.

Etsy Wednesday – Valentine’s Day Cards

Etsy Wednesday logoI’ve scrutinized Etsy to find the best science-themed Valentine’s Day cards. By “scrutinize” I mean that I looked at a bunch of them, and only selected the ones that made me laugh. It turns out that I’m far more entertained by physics love jokes than by chemistry or biology ones, probably because I get too critical about the accuracy of those. Like this one, “You are the Na+ to my Cl-“, just seems to say “we don’t really need each other and are not discriminate about who we bond with” to people who know their ions. On the other hand, I know little enough about wave functions to actually find this one funny, even though it probably makes no sense to a physicist:


And another physics card:


I do like some of the biochemistry jokes as well, and actually LOL-ed at this oxytocin card. There’s been so much hype about this molecule, it deserves to be a Valentine’s Day card!


This one‘s a classic biochemistry in-joke. Oh, helicase, you’re so…assertive.


Prefer scientists over molecules? Got you covered!

Here’s Darwin, naturally selecting YOU. (His birthday is coming up as well. I wrote about Darwin and Valentines Day a few years ago.)


Of course, nothing says “You’re out of this world” like this laser-engraved wood ornament of Carl Sagan! (I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this item, and they all came out at once in a giggle-fit. I think that’s a positive review.)


It’s only slightly too late to order any of these items in time for Valentine’s Day, but someone who really loves you won’t care that they get their card a week later. Probably. If you don’t want to risk it, you can always get the pdf version of my favourite set of science Valentine’s Day cards, and instantly download Marie Curie, Nikola Tesla, Stephen Hawking, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, Carl Sagan, Werner Heisenberg and Brian Cox.


(Tesla! TESLA!!! Ladies, would you PLEASE….)

Etsy Wednesday – soap flasks

Etsy Wednesday logoI know, I know. It’s nice that I brought back Etsy Wednesday, but am I ever going to blog anything else again? Yes, yes I am. In fact, I’ve been blogging every Tuesday at The Finch and Pea, and also sometimes on my work blog so I definitely did write. But lately I’ve been a bit busy offline. I’m moving to London in a couple of weeks, and I needed to find a flat. I think I finally found one, so now I can start worrying about more important things: which Etsy items would look good in my new flat?

This is fantastic, and I want this for my kitchen to match my test tube spice rack, but the shipping cost to the UK is almost as much as the flask itself, so I need to sleep on this. It’s a refillable soap dispenser made out of a conical flask, and it comes with colourful soap.


The seller, Stinkybomb Soap, sells lots of quirky soap products as well, like baby doll head or cassette tape-shaped hand soaps.

Etsy Wednesday – Coloured flasks

Hmm. You know my feelings about the stereotype of the coloured liquids in flasks, but I have to admit that these are pretty.

Each flask has a quartz crystal in water with glitter and food colouring. The science perfectionist in me wants nothing to do with this kind of nonsense, but colours! And glitter! And flasks! I’m on the fence about this, but probably only because I can’t see the shimmer of the glitter on this old laptop screen.

Etsy Wednesday – Carl Sagan on a velociraptor

Remember that time when Carl Sagan rode a velociraptor and waved a light sabre? Here it is, commemorated in a print. (Found via several people on Twitter and Tumblr.)

The artist, Lauren Crawford, originally drew it for her boyfriend, but so many people wanted a copy of it that she put it on Etsy as print. Now you, too, can have Carl Sagan on a velociraptor on your wall.


Etsy Wednesday – Vessel Pendant

This red pendant by Etsy seller nervoussystem is inspired by the structure of blood vessels (and other rhyzome structures). Check out the rest of the store for more science-inspired jewelry, or find out how this particular series was designed using a 3D printing technique (includes videos).

Etsy Wednesday – Gold Mitochondria

I don’t think I’ve ever featured the work of Michele Banks on Etsy Wednesday yet, because I was taking a little Etsy Wednesday break at the time I first found her work via the science online community. Michele makes beautiful watercolour paintings of biological structures, like this one based on mitochondria:

There’s much more in her shop, and she has some events coming up in the Washington DC area where you can see her work in person. (Listing also on the Etsy page.)