Friday, November 13, 2009

Science for sale

A few weeks ago, my Supermodel Wife and I were skulking around Parkville when we stumbled into what may be the coolest store in the KC Metro area.

Now before I go on I know that there are certain people out there who will assume that when I say it's a "cool" store that it's stocked with skinny jeans and brand new retro-looking T-shirts and pumps club-mix music through the store speakers.

Or that it's got racks full of pretentious expensive wines and a full-court walk-in humidor with a Scotch tasting stand in between (although, that would be extremely cool).

No. When I say cool, I mean the 2009 definition of cool. You know, where things that we would have been called nerdy back in high school is actually cool now. This is good news for me since I was kind of nerdy back in high school but superhellacool now.

Anyway, the store is called HMS Beagle and it's chock full of sciencey stuff. The store is named after the famous ship on which Charles Darwin made his scientific voyages that lead to his theories on natural selection and evolution.

The owners bill it as the "ultimate science store" -- and after losing track of time while browsing there, I can't argue with that claim.

When we visited, for instance, there was an electrolysis contraption set up on the counter separating hydrogen and oxygen from water. In addition to all of the chemistry gear, there's paraphernalia related to electronics and robotics, astrology, entomology, palaeontology and geology.

It's amazing the kind of stuff they have there. Cases full of fossils -- some of it found around the region. I got a real kick out of showing my wife some of the samples of coprolite.

We visited with one of the store owners, John Kuhns, for a few minutes. He told us about all of the science clubs the store sponsors for youth and adults and about their frequent fossil hunting trips.

After a few minutes, he pushed a flashing LED-laden circuit board across the counter to me and pushed a button. As the sequence of LEDs flashed in a pattern, he asked me if I knew what it was doing.

After a few seconds, I realized that it was counting up in binary, which gave me an opening to share one of my favorite nerd jokes with him...
There are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

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  1. I have to stop at HMS Beagle every time I go to Parkville. I love that store, but it is hard on the wallet.

  2. Always loved the "10 kinds of people joke."

    BTW, don't blow anything up with off-the-shelf fusion reactors. I prefer made-from-scratch, thank you.


  3. R.Sherman,

    I'm afraid the ship has sailed on the fusion reactor. Due to some budgetary restraints, I had to go with an off-the-shelf model (we went with the Mr. Fusion 210).

    But we are going high-end on our Higgs Boson Modulator, so that should payoff...


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