Monday, October 01, 2007

RIP, Mr. Wizard

Yesterday Don Herbert, AKA Mr. Wizard died. I remember watching his show on Nickelodeon all the time. He would do all kinds of science experiments with kids, and I was always so jealous of the kids on that show. Once he made fireworks out of these chemicals, and he said that if you wanted to do this at home, you could get these chemicals at any chemical supply store, and so my mom tried to get the stuff so that we could do this experiment at home, and the people at the chemical supply store didn't have it, and our Purdue chemist friend Phil Low said that he couldn't give us this one chemical because it was a very dangerous carcinogen. But most of the tricks he did were things that you could try yourself using stuff you could find around the house or in your world. I remember how terrifying it was to see the life that was teeming in a drip of pond water when viewed from a microscope. Strange monstrous animals running into each other in an aquatic traffic jam. It rocked. Once he went to the top of a parking garage and had this really long drinking straw that extended down to a bottle of juice on the ground. He challenged a young volunteer to suck the juice up to the top of the parking garage. The kid could not do it. The weight of the juice itself kept building up in the straw, and the kid's sucking power was no match for the science working against him. It was awesome. No juice for that kid. Or what about the close-ups? I looked like a festering scab close up, but actually it was a strawberry. It looked like the claws of an evil robot, but actually it was the hook side of velcro. I still love close-ups. I could do close-ups all the live-long day.

Mr. Wizard. Don Herbert. He made a pen turn flimsy. He shattered a cold cold piece of rubber. He showed us that sound had a speed. He challenged kids to fold a piece of paper more than 8 times. Then he challenged them to cut a piece of paper so they could jump through it. He lit stuff on fire. He did science in his oven. He, like fellow Nickelodeon celeb Marc Summers, made sure kids wore safety glasses even for the most tame stuff. Don Herbert, rest in peace, knowing that "Many people have credited Mr. Wizard with their career choices in science or computers." The world is full of wonder. Science is everywhere. Kids are the future. He had the coolest job in the world. He had a very kind voice.

I thought that he seemed like a really nice man, a guy who would just invite neighborhood kids over to check out these science experiments he was doing. The format of the show made it seem like that. Once when he was blowing something up, this girl said "Wicked!" and it was the first time I had heard someone use that word like that. I thought it was sooooo funny.

But here is my real question:
What about that one kid though? The kid who talked like his teeth were glued together or something. What was that kid's deal?

No comments: