Science vs. Magic


Way back in 2007, I attended my first CES out in Las Vegas. Five (almost six) years on, most of the event is pretty hazy, but two things have stuck with me.

The first was the entire, massive show being completely overshadowed by Apple’s big reveal of the iPhone.

The other was a panel discussion I attended. I can’t recall the exact topic, but one of the panelists introduced his concept of “science versus magic”.

Science, he said, was logical, predictable, and repeatable. It had rules. In terms of technology and user interfaces, he referenced the iPod. Scroll the wheel one way, and it navigates down. Scroll the other way, and you go up. Simple. Logical. Repeatable.

Magic, on the other hand, was something not completely understood, something not predictable. He referenced Microsoft products. The way you stumble onto a fix to your problem with no idea how you got there or how to get back. The way that Word will just randomly reformat something one time, but not the next time.

This got me thinking – there’s a lot of magic in this hobby.

Here’s an example.

Recently, I was getting ready to spray some Alclad. Unhappy with the way my Tamiya X-1 Gloss Black base came out, I resprayed with some Tamiya TS-14 spray lacquer decanted from the rattlecan. It went down flawlessly, and turned mirror-smooth with a few swipes of micromesh.

Awesome! I’d found my new Alclad base!

Last night, I pulled out the TS-14 again. Decanted it again. Sprayed it again. And got a nasty, grainy finish. Same paint. Same airbrush. Same kit. Weather conditions more or less identical. Totally different result.

It struck me, as I stared at that finish in horror, that most of my tools and materials experiments are me seeking science in modeling. Predictable, repeatable results.

Something to think on…

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