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.   hunkin







The Novelty Automation donations box is the combination of two completely separate ideas.  Firstly my staff had repeatedly suggested that a donations box would be a good addition because so many visitors are wildly enthusiastic about the place. Secondly I had been fondly remembering Will Jacksonís Glass Smasher coin operated machine that he made for Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in the 1990s. When we last met up he encouraged me to make my own version. 

The problem with Willís original machine was that it felt disappointing and a waste of money if you didnít manage to smash the glass. As a donations box peoplesí expectations would be lower but I couldnít think how donating and glass breaking could be combined. 

I asked my sister and she immediately came up with the line Ďgenerosity increase the power on mindí which is perfect. It chimed with my ideas about todayís science. 

I prefer Victorian science. Chemicals reacted, electricity performed miracles, the results were spectacular and were often things you could try at home. My understanding of the physical world is still firmly based on Victorian science Ė things like relativity and quantum physics donít make any difference to the inputs of my senses. 

My arcade machines use semiconductors and LCDs Ė 20th century science Ė and I enjoy playing with them so Iím not a complete Luddite. I also still subscribe to the New Scientist magazine to keep up. But Iím still grounded by basic Victorian science. 

In my youth in the 1950s, science seemed all powerful. I now think this was largely because of the fundamental particle physics that resulted in the nuclear bomb. Today, most people no longer have such unquestioning faith in science and are more sceptical. The low fruit has been picked and science has been forced to become more esoteric. At the same time there are many more researchers, a result of the enormous expansion of universities in the last 25 years. Thereís also now more pressure for researchers to hype up results to get the next grant and for journalists keen to cherry pick results to make a good story. 

Unlike Victorian science, todayís results are rarely reproducible at home. Most are just shades of statistical significance. About a year ago the New Scientist magazine reported a study that found that 80% of these statistical results were irreproducible. This is partly because many scientists donít have good statistical skills, but also because the margins between significant and insignificant results are so slim that they are often almost meaningless.  

Psychology is particularly prone to dubious results. Even the impressive looking PET scan images of the brain have their critics, who claim theyíre little more than a high tech version of Victorian Phrenology (measuring the bumps on the head). 

Though sad in many ways, one good result of this shift is that todayís science has become excellent material for satire. The potential territory is now limitless and Novelty Automation is delighted to contribute to this fertile new field.




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