Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Soma" was the Hottest Exhibit at Maker Faire



This past weekend was Maker Faire in the SF Bay Area. This event draws from the full spectrum of do-it-yourself-oriented folks for a weekend of robots, alternative bikes, steampunk culture, and general constructing and crafting. The life-size Mousetrap game and 10-foot Tesla coils (indoors no less) were definite highlights.

Soma Fabrications wasn't showing at the fair. The "hot" exhibit we are speaking of was from The Flaming Lotus Girls. The team were displaying a small section of their sprawling propane powered, flame spewing sculpture. They call this project it "Soma" because when it's put together it resembles neurons firing impulses to eachother. (Soma is the term for the Linkbulbous end of the neuron containing the cell nucleus.)

Cycling was well represented, with Bike Monkey Magazine and Momentum Magazine booths, some crazy recumbent/scooter/wooden bicycle contraptions, and Cyclecide rodeo machines. If you haven't seen them around, Cyclecide is a local group that builds carnival rides that use the rider's own pedal power to operate the ride.

The Exploratorium, San Francisco's "museum of science, art, and human perceptions" , had a serious footprint in the main hall. We have friends who work there, so we we spent a good deal of time at their booth. Their Chain Reaction exhibit, which allowed faire-goers to construct Rube Goldberg-style machines connected over a series of tables, was one of the more popular hands-on activities. The finale involved a bowling ball dropping ten feet onto an alarm clock.


One Exploratorium staffer taking the
rear-steer bike for a ride.



The Homegrown Village was a must-see area, with delicious cheese, beer, coffee and other offerings to be had, as well as education on clean water, composting, and gardening. Ritual Coffee was on hand, and the consensus was that there was not a better way to cure a caffeine jones than some of their iced coffee. It was good to see the full gamut of do-it-yourselfers offering up a very positive event.

Maker Faire also showcases practical engineering. We had a friend manning the booth of Engineers Without Borders, which was showing multiple sustainable devices to improve quality of life in 3rd world communities. My favorite was the Hippo Roller a simple invention which makes it easier for people to carry water from wells and rivers.

Best of all was the bike parking setup, with one estimate at over 500 bikes in the bike valet area. The packed Caltrain bike car full of families and their bikes was certainly a welcome sight, and hopefully the bike-friendly nature of the weekend encourages more folks to find pleasure and convenience in cycling.




Check behind the flame flower for bikes crawling
up the fences in the bike parking area.


To see more pictures, go to our Flickr page.
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