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
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.