Halloween is only 10 days away and maybe you need a cool (and easy) costume. Because you’re reading this, I’m guessing you have more than a casual interest in science. To celebrate this awesome love, here are 10 very nerdy science costumes.
|Credit: 3268zauber via Wikimedia Commons|
1. Radio telescope
The basic idea is to invert an umbrella to form the radio dish and hold (or affix) this against your body. Radio telescopes usually track astronomical objects across the sky as the Earth rotates in order to achieve a less noisy image and to increase resolution. Ideally, dress all in white and spray paint the umbrella white — by absorbing less sunlight, the white color reduces the temperature and thus the intrinsic noisiness of the telescope.
For bonus points, carry around a pocket radio tuned to static noise and pretend you are receiving data from the cosmos.
2. A proton
|Schematic of a proton.
Credit: Arpad Horvath via Wikimedia Commons
Here’s a super simple idea for all you particle physicists.
For all you oceanographers, limnologists, or general biology nerds, dress up as phytoplankton (or zooplankton if you’re feeling particularly creative). The structures, shapes, and colors are endless so get a group of friends together and become a bloom!
A basic costume can be created by dressing in green and using painted cardboard cutouts to assemble a few geometrical shapes fixed to your outfit.
These workhorses of the water provide both essential food for a huge range of fish and whales and absorb vast amounts of carbon during the process of photosynthesis, some of which is then carried to the ocean floor when the plankton die. Phytoplankton come in two types: dinoflagellates (with a narrow tail used for basic movement) and diatoms (which drift via currents in the water).
4. Terminal window
Scientists spend a lot of time on their computers, much of it processing and analyzing data via the terminal (or the command line interface). Embrace this essential aspect of research and dress up as a terminal window! Bonus points for your favorite shell and custom color scheme.
Cut out a large cardboard square and paint a black terminal window with a gray monitor border. With a finer paintbrush or opaque marker, fill up your terminal with command line code and fake directory info. A black and neon green color scheme is classic but you can pick your favorite combo. Fasten the terminal to your outfit (perhaps with shoulder straps) and let the nerdy compliments roll in.
5. Hubble telescope
If the radio telescope idea wasn’t powerful enough for you, move up to a higher frequency in the electromagnetic spectrum and trick or treat as the optical Hubble Space Telescope.
The Hubble Telescope is about the size of a school bus and cylindrical. Try creating a giant tube of cardboard paper, with holes cut out for your arms and face. Cover the tube in aluminum foil. Once secure inside your tube, have someone help you attach cardboard ‘solar panels’ to each of your arms. Get ready for some deep field observing!
Calling all neurologists. Dress as a brain neuron for your next costume party shindig.
|Neuron schematic. Credit: Quasar Jarosz via Wikimedia Commons|
Wear a gray sweat shirt / pant combo, and wrap yourself in battery powered white LED christmas lights to represent the electrical signals that power our brain processes (here’s a detailed youtube video all about it). Careful not to pierce the light cable when attaching to the clothing.
You could also make a cardboard head dress to represent the nucleus and dendrites of the neuron, centered around your face.
7. X-ray patient
|An early x-ray image of a hand by Wilhelm Röntgen.
Credit: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
8. Carbon nanotube
9. Black hole
Nothing will escape your gravitational attraction when you dress as a black hole.
A basic version would simply involve dressing entirely in black including black shoes, gloves, and face paint/mask/balaclava — no light is escaping from you tonight! This would represent an isolated black hole, perhaps created from the death of a massive red giant star, without any nearby star stuff on which to feed.
To go the extra lightyear, create an accretion disk out of an inflatable inner tube painted in ‘hot’ swirls of color like red, yellow, and orange. The accretion disk is the whirlpool of material falling inwards towards the event horizon of the black hole. Because of extreme gravitational and frictional forces, accretion disks reach temperatures ranging from hundreds of thousands to billions of degrees Kelvin and emit thermal X-rays as a result.
10. Scientist on a conference
If all else fails and you need an easy last-minute costume, you can always go as a scientist on a conference. Conference attire is typically very casual but the classic look might be a boring blue button down t-shirt and a pair of khaki slacks. This is gender neutral. Affix a name badge stating your real or scientist name and university, and you’re good to go!
Have a nerdy Halloween!
By Tamela Maciel, also known as “pendulum”