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Archive for May, 2011

Summer Science Suggestions!

Summer is coming – in fact the ‘unofficial start’ of Summer has already passed us with Memorial Day weekend. So school will end soon and there will be lots of time to play outdoors and we have some nifty products for that! Let’s get started!

First up is the Bubble Thing!

Bubble Thing

This nifty gadget makes HUGE bubbles and they can last a long time – in fact they last so well that when we thought it would be a neat idea to demonstrate the Bubble Thing in front of our store the bubbles took off with the wind and went 3/4 of a block  down – and right into the nice people dining outdoors  at Derek’s restaurant. Oops! Sorry folks.  But it made a big impression and you can make the big bubbles – don’t forget the refill solution!

Another nifty outdoor toy is the classic Flying Machine

Flying Machine

This balsa-wood, rubber-band powered toy plane is a classic. Assembly is easy  and when you wind it up it can fly as far as a football field is long! Adjust the wings and it will zoom around in a circle! You can even get it to take off on its own and land like  real plane!

Sunprint Kits are another great outdoor activity.

Super Sunpint Kit

Sunprint kits are sets of light-sensitive film. You put objects like leaves, branches, flowers, coins, etc. on top of the film. Then place it in sunlight. After 1-5 minutes (depending on how bright the sunlight is) it exposes. Then you dunk it in water to develop it! You can make lots of great images with the film. Don’t forget the refills!

A recently added and popular item are out Foam Stunt Jet Planes

Stunt Jet

These come in a variety of colors and are powered by a simple throw. Unlike a lot of other thrown toys these jets glide impressively and when thrown outdoors the flaps can be adjusted to make the jet to stunts! Make it do simple turns, or loops, or other tricks! The toys work best outdoors, but the soft foam construction means they can be flown indoors as well.

We also can’t forget one of our other favorite toys! The Flip n Flyer!

Flip N Flyer

The Flip n Flyer is one part flying disc, one part gyroscope. You can throw it and catch it like any flying disc, but you can also catch it and spin it by its cord! When you do it keeps on spinning and that gyroscopic action lets you do all sorts of neat tricks!

Last, but by no means least, there is always the chance to go fly a kite


From the simple and differently colored diamond kites.  To the easy-to-fly Fly-Hi kites, or the Shark, P-51, & Blue Angel kites, or even the advanced Box & Cellular Kites there is a kite for many people’s tastes!

These are just a few ideas, and we will have many more to come as Summer builds up. Make this a Summer of science fun!


BenchMark Scientific MyBath 4L Personal Digital Water Bath

BenchMark Scientific makes some of the best new laboratory equipment around. Their product price beat the competition, they do a great job at innovation, and their products also look great as well!

And they’ve done it again! They have introduce the new MyBath 4L personal digital water bath.

MyBath 4L

MyBath 4L Personal Digital Water Bath

This compact 4L water bath has easy to use digital controls and gives an even temperature throughout the bath. The lid provides a secure, covered environment and can even be completely removed if the project requires it.

Unlike other companies small bath systems, the MyBath comes with 3 tube racks for 50ml (15 tubes), 15ml (41 tubes), and 1.5/2.0 (40 tubes). An optional tube holder for 0.5ml (40 tubes) is also available.

MyBath Included Racks

MyBath comes with these tube racks

Compared to the competition, the MyBath is at least $100 less expensive, and is on average $200-500 less than the competition. Not to mention it looks much better and comes with 3 tube racks! The temperature uniformity & accuracy  is also much better than the competition’s models.

The standard model is powered by 115V current, but  European & English plugged versions that operate on 230V are also available. Contact us for details.

The MyBath is an excellent choice for a molecular biologist’s lab or any other place that requires a digital bath system!


Magic Milk Straws

In the past, someone made flavored straws that you would stick into regular milk and when you sipped the straw would flavor the milk as you drank. It sounds great, but at the time it really didn’t work very well. The straws were paper and dissolved in the liquid milk, the flavors were very ‘chemical’ tasting and overall it just didn’t work well. But it was a neat idea at least.

That’s why Magic Milk Straws have been made! These straws are much more durable (plastic straws don’t dissolve) and the taste is much, much better. Let’s take a look at the product to see why!

Magic Milk Straws

Magic Milk Straws

Look at the center of the picture and you will see the actual straws (there are six in each pack). Those beads in the straw are the key to the flavor. As you drink, the beads impart flavor to the milk and give it a delicious flavor, be it Cookies & Cream, Chocolate, Strawberry, or Orange Cream. The Magic Milk Straws are gluten-free, lactose-free, low-sugar, and made of all-natural ingredients. They can be used with not only dairy milk, but also soy & lactose-free  milk as well. Each straw adds just 16 or 17 calories to the glass of milk!

Milk is not the only thing that Magic Milk Straws  work on. Some folks have tried the Cookies & Cream with iced coffee and declared it to be really yummy!

Magic Milk Straws require no refrigeration and come six straws per pack. Pick up some today!


Anatomical Models, or plastic parts is parts!

We carry a fair number of anatomical models on our website, so many that we actually have a whole section devoted to the line. We won’t cover everything in that section, but we will hit a few highlights. Let’s start off with popular skeleton models.

Human Skeleton Model With Muscles

Human Skeleton Model with Muscles

This guy is a popular model with the muscles built in on one side of the body. A half-size version is also available for this with space or budget concerns.  For those who do not want muscles on their skeleton we have a full-size unmuscled model. We also carry a line of supurb, highly realistic skeletons used for close-up medical study – contact us for details on that line.

OK, but sometimes you need more than a few muscles – you need a whole bunch of muscles and some skin on those models! That is where the Human Torso models come into play.

Knowbody Teching Model

The Know Body Teaching Torso

The KnowBody is perhaps the top of the line human torso model.  With 19 dissectable parts, 10 detachable parts and 150 hand numbered parts it is only beaten in quality by its Advanced Brother/Sister.

But if you are on more of a budget you might want to think about the 11 part Human Torso Model  or the 6 Part torso model.
So how about some of the parts inside the human body? You know, THE GUTS!

Lets start with the Jumbo Heart Model

Jumbo Heart Model

Jumbo Heart Model

If this 5x life size heart is too much we have a life size model, or if you are more interested in the way the heart actually pumps blood we have the technically magnificent Hands-on cardiac simulator for classroom work!

There more in the body besides the heart, of course. There’s the brain:

Brain model


Available as budget or 4 part budget model

There’s all those other organs as well. The Liver

Liver Model

Liver Model

The Stomach

Stomach Model

Stomach Model

(and its buddy The Digestive System Model)

The Kidney

Kidney Model

Kidney Model

(and of course the diseased pancreas & spleen)

We have many other models, of course, but they involve plants, mitosis, or other biological processes that may involve humans but are not human part models. We’ll cover them in a future post.


Wonder Holder

We have a new magnet item: The Wonder Holder!

Wonder Holder

The Wonder Holder

The wonder holder is a simple concept: You place the Wonder Holder onto your car dashboard or other handy surface with the adhesive, and attach one of the included backing plate onto the back of your cell phone, PDA, GPS, or other device. Then whenever you want just place the device up to the Wonder Holder and let the magnets go to work! Just like that the device is secure and out of the way!

“But wait!” You might cry, “magnets next to my cell phone?! It’ll ruin it!”. Well, no it won’t. Because while it is a powerful magnet it is nowhere near strong enough to effect flash-based memory devices like Smartphones, GPS, and similar items. Older iPod owners (and older MP3 players) should not use the Wonder Holder as those devices work on hard drives which can get messed up by magnets.

The Wonder Holder is also great for keeping things tidy or having a proper place for your cell phone to hang out of the way while being charged or at work. No longer do you have to keep you phone right on your desk surface where it can get bumped off or have papers piled on top of it.  This is just one suggestion as there are many different ways to use the Wonder Holder. It can be used in lockers, or in bathrooms to keep them away from water. The Wonder Holder is extremely versatile and much easier to use than clunky phone holsters.

But let’s see the Wonder Holder in action. We used our demo display to show how the Wonder Holder works.

Each wonder holder comes with the Wonder Holder magnet with adhesive and three backing plates so that you can use more than one device with the Wonder Holder!

Spectrum Scientifics





New! Framed Insect Photos!

Regular visitors to our store have seen these before, but for others they are a new experience: Our selection of high-quality, framed insect photo artwork!

Let’s have a nice look at these:

Butterfly Pictures


These are framed pieces of artwork that are 40-3/4″ x 10-3/4″. Each set has five excellent, larger than life photos of various insects with the scientific name in attractive script.  Each photo is 5-3/4″ x 6-3/4″. Although shown in vertical, this photo series can also be arranged in horizontal. Just contact us for details.

Right now, only two of these photo sets are online, but more will be added shortly. The other available item is the Beetle Collection.

Beetles Photography Collection


In addition to have a choice of alignment, these photo sets also have excellent quantity pricing. At just 2 units the price drops from $225 to $180! A savings of 20%.  The savings only get better from there!

Magnifier Buyers Guide Part 2

Continuing from part 1 of our Magnifier Buyer’s Guide:

What Magnifier Should I Choose?

The answer to this, as you may expect, depends on your needs. There are several categories of ‘standard needs’. You may fall into one of these categories but you might not. Either way, you should use them as a guideline to the magnifier best suited for your needs:

General Usage

If you don’t know the purpose for your magnifier, it is best to stick with medium sized hand magnifiers for your needs. 2x-3x is more than enough power for most folks to examine things closely or read fine print.

Menu Reading/Fine Print Reading/Maps

If you don’t want to wear reading glasses, or find they are not powerful enough for reading smaller text,  a standard hand magnifier should serve Dome Magnifieryour needs, but you might also want to consider a dome magnifier (shown on right). Especially if you plan to do a lot of document reading or close examination of maps.  You may find that a small hand-held magnifier is also useful for reading when you are away from home – a small magnifier can be kept in a purse or pocket.

Medical Eye Issues

This is a tough one – the simple fact is there is nothing available that will give you your sight back if you have serious conditions like Macular degeneration or similar conditions.  Medical conditions are one of the few cases where you want to have as high power as you can get in as large a lens as possible. Double lens magnifiers or Aspherics  the best choices here, but everyone’s needs will be different. This is one place where you might want to go to a store that sells magnifiers and try before you buy.

Hobby Work

If you are doing fine needlework, soldering electronics, painting models, or any of  hundreds of hobbies where close-up examination of points of work may be required, you may need other types of magnifiers to fill your needsDesk Lamp Magnifier: desk top magnifiers might be excellent for your work, or maybe a soldering system known as ‘Helping hands’, or perhaps a magnifier you wear on your head. All of these can be quite useful but only you will know your needs and how to fill them.

Jewelry and Geology

The special needs of jewelers and geologists mean they need magnifiers that have very high power (7x+) and as good an image as possible. When you are examining the cuts on a stone the last thing you want is insufficient magnification or an image where the edges of the gem’s cuts bend up near the edge of the lens. Geologists often require high-power and accurate magnification to spot critical details on samples.

As you can see, there are many different needs and designs when it comes to magnifiers. Be sure to know you needs and how best to solve them when buying a magnifier. And remember: sometimes magnifier makers don’t always tell the truth about their product’s magnification. So be wary, but don’t let that inhibit your choosing a fine product!

Magnifier Buyer’s Guide, Part 1

Magnifiers are useful in any situation where small objects or letters need to Magnifier!be viewed. But not all magnifiers are created equal, and in fact without some guidance you may end up with the wrong magnifiers for the job. This guide aims to help you select the proper magnifier for your needs.


All magnifiers will magnify small objects, but they will vary widely in how they do the jobs. These are some properties of magnifiers you should look for:

POWER (or Magnification): This is how much larger a magnifier makes things. A 2X magnifier makes things 2 times as large, a 5X magnifier will make thing five times larger, and so on. Don’t be seduced by high listed magnification, for one thing we’ve already covered how magnifier manufacturers lie and higher magnification will also effect other specifications, such as:

WORKING DISTANCE: This is a measure of how far you have to have the magnifier from the object being viewed as well as how close your eye should be to the lens. At low powers the working is going to be several inches, but as power increases it drops quickly. By the time you have a 10X magnifier the working distance is less than an inch.

FIELD OF VIEW: This is the total area a magnifier can view. Once again, as power increases this figure decreases. A 2x magnifier can view several inches of area, but by the time you reach 5x it will be only about an inch-and a half. At 10x you will be viewing an area less than half an inch across!

LENS SIZE: This is related to field of view in that the larger the lens the more field of view you will have. But to get higher magnifications you must use smaller and smaller lenses. A 2x lens can be as large as 6″ (and we’ve seen bigger!) but a 10X lens will need to be very small, less than 3/4″ is typical.

All of these features are fundamental laws of optics. You simply cannot get around them. A 10x magnifier cannot be 4″  across and held 12″ away from the subject matter.  Its not going to happen!

There are many other characteristics of magnifiers but they are mostly related to the above specifications.  Instead we will concentrate on the different styles of magnifiers


Magnifiers com in many shapes and sizes A reading magnifier

and the most common design is a classic hand-held magnifier. These are usually large, single lenses (2-5″ across is typical) that are low power and are mostly for reading text or examining small objects. This is the design most people are familiar with when they think of magnifiers. There will be many variations of design and size, as well as features such as illumination or fancy materials (brass is common and attractive). There are too many variations to go in here so we will simply say that most of these magnifiers go from 2x to 5x, with the emphasis at the lower part of the magnification scale


Inspection magnifiers are for closer work on small objects that need high power to be viewed or measured. Inspection magnifiers are higher powered than reading magnifier (4x-10x is common)and may have features such as illumination, measuring reticles, and many differing designs.


Loupes are meant for very close inspection of small objects – in particular jewelry or electronics. They are hand-held or held in the eye by squinting. Loupes tend to be higher powered (7x-12x is typical). The sizes of Loupes, as a result, tend to be small and are meant to be used almost right next to the object being viewed.


Once your get above 12x the line between magnifier and microscope gets blurred.  Very-high magnifiers tend to be very small, very expensive, and sometimes the job can be done more effectively by a portable microscope instead. The magnifications of inspection microscopes (10x-40x) should also be considered when magnifier manufacturers make claims of excessive magnification.


So with this knowledge in mind, we can think of all magnifiers with the same magnification as being pretty much identical? WRONG! Every magnifier is going to have different levels of quality depending on the design.

The biggest issue with magnifiers is edge distortion. Looking through the center of most magnifiers will usually give you a clean image, but as you get near the edge there may be problems with distortion – if you were looking at a piece of graph paper, for example, the lines near the edge of the lens would bend and curve in a poorly designed lens.

With low-power lenses just having a properly designed lens is enough to avoid distortion. But with higher powers it is often the case where you need more than one lens to get the power and the clean image. Doublets, Triplets, and in some cases Quadruplet lenses are used to make a clean edge. More lenses, of course, means more work on the design and construction and so more cost.

Other quality factors come into play at higher magnification designs: lens coatings allow much more light to transmit through the lens and reduce and glare that might come from other light sources. These can also be useful for certain hand-held magnifiers as well, but are not as common.

Coming up in Part 2 – So what’s the best magnifier for me?