April 22, 2015 |
Kate Pelcin and Kristina Griste dipped the Aqua Tweeter into water, and the flood-detection device posted to Twitter: "At least three inches of water. Is your sump pump working?" Last week, the "flood" was just a pool set up in Gavin Speirs' classroom at Downingtown High School West. But soon, Aqua Tweeters are to be set up in flood-prone Downingtown Borough, allowing people to monitor water levels in public places via Twitter. Pelcin, Griste, and classmate Andrew Kim invented the device in Speirs' Introduction to Engineering Design class.
March 4, 2015 |
My favorite Flexible Flyer story involves a boy's bravado, an icy hill, and a front tooth. On a snowy afternoon in 1964, as I commanded my younger brothers to watch how fast I could go, my smile collided with a crusty chunk of Massachusetts winter. Undaunted, I sledded on until dusk - a testament to the thrill of hurtling downhill atop the invention of Moorestown industrialist Samuel L. Allen. "Everybody who visits this exhibit has a story, it seems," says Joseph Galbraith, with whom I'm sharing my childhood recollections as we tour the "Flexible Flyer Sled Museum" at the Moorestown Library.
January 5, 2015 |
BRIAN LINTON, 28, proudly calls himself the founder and chief trash collector of United By Blue, his eco-friendly cafe/clothing/cool-stuff business on 2nd Street near Quarry in Old City. Linton promises that every time he sells one of his sustainable-material outdoorsy goods - a shirt, a backpack, an ax - in the store or online, he removes a pound of garbage from a body of water through company-organized cleanups. Linton said that since he founded United By Blue in 2010, he's removed 203,510 pounds of trash during 116 cleanups of vulnerable sites, including Bartram's Garden, Penn Treaty Park, the Schuylkill and Delaware rivers, and down the Shore.
December 16, 2014 |
If the takeout beverage industry embraces Drexel University sophomore Patrick Bowlin's half-inch invention, his father, Thomas, stands to be a very happy man. "I was going to buy my dad a Porsche 911 for his 60th birthday," Bowlin said. "I've got two years. " Young Bowlin is off to a promising start - with an idea that started with a sip of hot chocolate in April and now seems to have a strong shot at a patent. "I couldn't find anything . . . so, keep our fingers crossed, hopefully Patrick's got something here," said Joseph E. Maenner, of Maenner & Associates L.L.C.
September 10, 2014 |
Rock-star envy is creeping into the classical world, as artists from Christopher O'Riley to the Ebene Quartet transcribe music conceived for electric pop instruments for whatever they play best - with varying success. Few have hurled themselves into this rock/classical netherworld as fearlessly as cellist Maya Beiser, whose late-night FringeArts Stage concert on Sunday encompassed Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Lou Reed with two rock-based sidemen. No question that she has the chops to make her cello a license-to-kill instrument, helped by a hybrid electric instrument she used intermittently.
July 28, 2014 |
When Maurice Kanbar got headaches from drinking alcohol, he came up with a solution: Skyy Vodka, regular vodka minus the impurities that he said gave him headaches. He also invented the "D-Fuzz-It" sweater comb and a hypodermic needle protector to prevent health-care workers from getting pricked. But the wealthy San Francisco entrepreneur has another claim to fame: He's the godfather of Philadelphia University. He is the biggest donor in the university's history. He gave his alma mater a whopping $21 million during its current capital campaign - more than half the amount the university was aiming to raise.
July 15, 2014 |
Eternity, infinity, and other ultimate abstractions are described in such entrancing detail by 17th-century poet and theologian Thomas Traherne that he seems to have personally visited the afterlife's "transparent temple of infinite luster" to know what he knew. Such is the intriguing basis of The Fifth Century , a 45-minute work by British composer Gavin Bryars, premiered Saturday by Philadelphia choir the Crossing and PRISM Saxophone Quartet at Crane Arts. Ambitious and subtle, and at the same time not for everybody, The Fifth Century doesn't attempt to describe eternity's "mysterious absence of time and ages" but gives Traherne's words an ethereal showcase.
May 9, 2014
SIXTY YEARS ago this week, Englishman Roger Bannister ran the first sub-4-minute mile. In a tribute that could be dreamed up only by a beer drinker, Californian James Nielsen pulled on his running shoes, headed to the track, stretched a few times . . . And cracked open a can of Budweiser . Make that four Buds. One for each lap of a quarter-mile track in Marin County. In an achievement that - even if it's not quite as historic as Bannister's - lit up YouTube and Facebook, Nielsen became the first man to run a sub-5-minute beer mile.
May 1, 2014 |
Call it craps for the Google generation. Props & Hops is a new game at SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, where Thomas McCann, a table games dealer, has experienced a much younger crowd than he was used to during nearly three decades in Atlantic City. McCann, 52, had the idea of simplifying craps - a complicated game of dice with multiple ways to wager - after seeing multitasking young gamblers wanting to "talk on their phones and try to gamble at the same time," he said Tuesday.
April 22, 2014 |
THE PACKER-Combo-Mower - It cuts! It mulches! It edges! It whacks! - was born in the dead of winter, when Bruce Packer, 78, was booted out of the house he'd rented for 18 years across Borbeck Avenue from his Rhawnhurst neighbor, Dennis Gesker, 73, who took him in. Packer had dreamed up a lawn mower on steroids that did everything but kill crabgrass and swat mosquitoes. He told Gesker about it. "I've worked on mowers all my life, finding them in the trash, fixing them up, selling them at flea markets," said Packer, who has been a meat cutter for 60 years.