Drizzle, Drazzle, Dradle, Drone Time For This One To Come Home
Don "Mr. Wizard" Herbert (1917 - 2007)
Long before Mythbusters, and decades before Seattle's own Bill Nye The Science Guy, Don Herbert, (AKA Mr. Wizard), was wowing precocious little tykes like myself with mezmerizing demonstrations of scientific principles, using an array of mundane household items.
Although his program "Watch Mr. Wizard" was probably already in syndication by the time I was old enough to remember seeing it (the original, Peabody Award-winning series ran from 1951 - 1964), I can still recall sitting in front of the T.V. on Saturday mornings, wondering what sort of amazing contraptions or mildly explosive concoctions he was going to show us that week.
I don't remember attempting any of his home-brewed experiments, but what impressed me, and probably millions of other kids during the mid-1960's, was the idea that "science was all around"; you could pick up just about anything: a rock, a bottle of bleach, heck, something already lying in the garbage can - and use it, analyze it, break it down, combine it with other things to create a seemingly magical result. But - and perhaps this was Mr. Wizard's greatest accomplishment - IT WASN'T MAGIC! It was science - and whatever it was he showed you, YOU COULD MAKE IT YOURSELF, if you had the right combination of ingredients.
By "demytholizing" science, by making it accessible, even commonplace, Herbert instilled in an entire generation the notion that science is a tool, one that helps us to explain the world around us, that provides us with all manner of useful substances and objects, and perhaps most importantly, that it is a tool anyone - even non-scientists - can learn to use effectively.
Given the abject scientific ignorance of most Americans, it seems like we could sure use a guy like Mr. Wizard around today, if only to frame these apparently incomprehensible matters in terms even a six year-old can understand.
Labels: Obits, Retro, Television
on 2:06 PM