Why you should wear your safety glasses

A small story from my book Mad Science

For my book Mad Science I wanted to write a safety section that people would actually read. So I did some very nasty things to a bunch of Barbie dolls. (Actually they were Barbie styling heads, which are about 3/4 life size heads that you're meant to mess with the hair on.)

My goal was to demonstrate visually why it's a good idea to wear safety glasses. There's really no other safety precaution remotely as important as safety glasses: You've only got two eyes, and they are close together. Personally I'd rather loose all four limbs than both eyes. So I photographed what happened to Ashley and Tiffany: One of them listened to her teacher, the other did not.

For the printed book the publisher forced me to do it over again using generic, off-brand Barbie dolls because they were afraid of being sued by Mattel. But here you can see an exclusive gallery of the banned original Barbie-brand horror show. (My lawyer, incidentally, is absolutely sure that there is no legal claim: This is editorial and satirical use of the likeness, it in no way causes confusion in the mind of the public, diminishes the value of the brand, or competes with or displaces any sales of the trademarked items. In other words, if you're a Mattel lawyer, chill out, it's all in good fun, and remember I'd collect costs in the end, as have a number of others in this situation.)

Without further ado, let's start with the story of Ashley. Click on any picture to see it much bigger in a new window.

Ashley likes bubbles:

Too bad they were filled with hydrogen gas:

Phew, that was a close call, but a puff of flame like that does surprisingly little damage (to a person or a Barbie, as long as you're wearing safety glasses.)

Being a curious student, Ashley decided to take a close look at some pyrotechnic mixture in a pan.

No, don't light it!

Ooo, pretty....


Ugh, that was no fun. Am I alive?

Fortunately, Ashley listened to her teacher and wore her safety glasses! A little plastic surgery and she'll be just fine.

Too bad her friend Tiffany didn't listen. She wanted to see the same pretty fire, but forgot her safety glasses.

There, there, Tiffany, everything's going to be fine. Well, at least for me.

Want to see more stuff like this? Try my book Mad Science, available now online and in bookstores everywhere. (Or if it's not in your bookstore, yell at them.)

You might also enjoy my periodic table website.

Oh, OK, I have video. If you promise to buy a book or poster from the links above, you can watch these videos, which show the non-Barbie version of these dolls from when my publisher forced me to re-do the photoshoot documented above.

First, two regular videos in HD:
Video 1
Video 2

Next, two high speed videos, shot at 300 frames per second with a Casio EX F1:
High Speed Video 1
High Speed Video 2

Remember you promised, so go take a look at my book Mad Science, and my periodic table posters.

Text and images Copyright (c) 2009 Theodore W. Gray. All rights reserved, but feel free to use the pictures in your blog if you link back here or to graysci.com.