g  e  n  u  i  n  e  i  d  e  a  s
  home   art and
writings biography   food   inventions search
science q&a

Back in 1991, when I was still at Bell Labs, we organized a primitive help line to support science teachers in the state of New Jersey. Many of these noble instructors languish quietly in schools. Often the lone science teacher in a school of 1000- they frequently lack any support group to consult when wrestling with a tough question.

Today, especially with the Internet, there are many useful on-line resources such as:

However, back in 1991 we partly filled that role by accepting inquiries via an 800 number (1-800-CLEARUP NO LONGER IN OPERATION), and circulating the question by email to a few dozen volunteers at the Labs. Then we contacted the teachers by email or fax.

The best questions were saved for publication in a newsletter and mailed out to hundreds of teachers state wide. However, as friends told friends of the newsletters we started getting requests from around the country, and soon the demand for help outstripped our ability to reply. The line was discontinued in late 1992, though even today a small group of teachers still "tunnel through" for advice. Enjoy.

March 1991 Edition

  • Why is the Sky Blue?
  • What is the difference between a glass, a solid and a liquid?
  • Are Zebra mussels a problem in Europe?
  • Why do we divide the day into 24 hours, an hour into 60 minutes,...?
  • Fruit flies and power lines.

May 1991 Edition

  • The Earth's atmosphere looks like a lens- why doesn't the sun focus on the ground?
  • What is the atomic structure of noble gases?
  • What happens when an electron collides with another electron?
  • How to make a strong model of a bridge?
  • Why imaginary numbers?
  • Eggs and the Spring Equinox
  • Why gravity gives weight?

September 1991 Edition

  • Back-of-envelope Calculations: Tire and Laundry Wear
  • Galileo and Gravity
  • Breath of life
  • Do fish have salivary glands?

In 1993, we sponsored a contest to design a "personal communicator". Hundred of students from around the world sent in ideas scribbled on paper, glued on cardboard and taped on plastic for the ideal communicator-computer-assistant. Their inventions were always charming and appropriate to a child's daily life- cleverly incorporating the technology of today with the dreams of tomorrow. Silicon Valley could learn a lot from the creative minds of children.


Contact Greg Blonder by email here - Modified Genuine Ideas, LLC.