Future Mods Interview in io9

I had fun doing an interview for the great sci-fi blog io9 recently about “future mods” and “bio hacking”. The interview turned out great but I was a little dismayed that it got cut more than I’d have liked — I guess for a mix of space and to not get too technical because I included perhaps more “how to” information than they were ultimately comfortable with. Here’s the link to the interview:


As I always do with interviews, I’m going to post the raw text of my interview here so if you’re interested in seeing the long form and learn a little more, keep reading. As you know if you’ve read any of the interviews I’ve done (as the questioner) I always prefer long interviews to short ones myself, but these days the Internet seems to prefer small servings rather than stuff that requires some dedication to read.

Anyway, click above for the published interview or keep reading after the break for the unedited version that is longer but probably full of typos.


BME Covers Book 1998-2008

I’m happy to announce that I’ve finished a little quickie project, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages, a little (140 page or so) book, full color, 8.5″x11″, softcover, containing all of the cover images that I had a part in choosing, between 1998-2008, which is about 1,200 images in all. I will announce it formally on ModBlog in about a week, but I want to wait until I get my copy of it from the printer so that I can properly review it and post some pictures of the actual book. But if you’d like to buy one, you can get it for $39.99 (I get about $5 of that by the way, which I then split with Rachel, so on the whole this is for fun, not so much for profit) at this link:

Get the book “BME Covers 1998-2008″ her for $39.99

You can also download the PDF file (24 meg) for free here:

That PDF file doesn’t contain the cover pictures and it of course looks a zillion times better it print, but if you want a copy to preview or to look at on an eReader, feel free to download it for free. I had lots of fun making the covers as photo mosaics made up of various cover images, so if you want to take a closer at them, the links below take you to VERY LARGE IMAGES.

Getting Engaged in 1937

While researching some tattoo history in old newspapers I randomly came across this announcement in the Montana Butte Standard from September 21st, 1937, announcing the marriage of a Miss Shannon Larratt. I’m always surprised to meet other Shannon Larratts — this is number three that I know of, after myself and a woman about my age (maybe a little younger) currently living in South Africa. Other than that not much to report. Been slogging away at helping out on ModBlog and BME, writing a bit more on Facebook, working on interviews and my book projects, and going to doctors appointments. All of those things are good, except the last, which has been terrible, more terrible than usual probably.

Bismuth Jewelry (and I’m back)

Yes, we are back, as of last night actually. Drove about 3,000km in three days, with me doing all the driving of course. But it was actually very nice, really scenic, and not at all tiring. The whole thing was a surprising breeze. Even got to see the amazing double rainbow (yes the photo is mirrored, because I could only catch half of it in my camera, but other than that the photo is gloriously real and it was very cool thing to see) while at the end (middle?) of our trip in Camden, South Carolina. I’m going to take a day or two now to rest, and then the work begins in earnest — both helping to get BME back to what it should be, and also working hard to wrap up all of my writing projects while there’s still gas in the tank so to speak.

Popular Science just published a fascinating walk-through gallery on converting Pepto-Bismol pink digestive pills into ingots of bismuth metal (here’s the video from chemlife they based the article on, from which I discovered it’s also quite easy to make bismuth crystals) — this caught my attention because the rings that I make are a tin-bismuth alloy. This got me thinking how amazing it would to actually make a skull ring out of Pepto-Bismol pills. As they point out, a two-pill dose of Pepto-Bismol contains 262 milligrams of bismuth subsalicylate, about an eigth of which converts into pure bismuth. What that means is that it takes about seven and a half pills to make a gram of bismuth metal, and since my skull rings weight in the neighborhood of 60-70 grams (450 to 525), figure it’s going to take me a solid 600 pills, assuming our pills are about the same size and assuming that there’s some loss when I do the process. Plus a day of home chemistry, assuming everything works.

The procedure seems fairly simple. First, take all those pills and grind them up into a powder. That powder gets dissolved into a solution that is six parts water and one part concentrated muriatic acid (ie. “spirits of salt” or hydrochloric acid, available in the paint aisle of the hardware store). That gets slowly put through a coffee filter, which leaves a clear pink solution with a ton of dissolved bismuth ions floating around in it. Then you dip aluminum foil into the solution, which turns it black as the acid dissolves the aluminum, and more importantly causes the bismuth ions to precipitate out as particles of bismuth metal. This is filtered once again, through a pillowcase, leaving the bismuth metal powder in the filter. This powder is then melted down (bismuth melts at about 270 degrees so this is quite easy) and poured into my jewelry mold!

If I get around to doing this I will of course post about it. Been greatly enjoying the latest season of Breaking Bad, we shall see if that enjoyment is enough to motivate me into a cool home-chemistry experiment.

World’s most neglected blog, I know…

Going on a road trip for a week starting tomorrow morning. When I return I will have more time and expect to be posting again with my past regularity. Had a wonderful summer, which is why I didn’t post much. Hope the rental company is not too mad at me when I come back having put 3,000 kilometers on the rental. They did say “unlimited miles”!!!