By Phil Plait | July 30, 2010 12:00 pm

I love geeks. I love clever people. I love sciencey stuff.

So this fills my heart with squishiness: a skirt with rows of lights that illuminate when facing north:

Make those LEDs red and every astronomer could use it. Not to mention campers, hikers, and let’s face it, nerds like all of us. I would dance all night with someone wearing this.

Want one? She’s selling kits so you can make one yourself!

Of course, in 2012* when the poles flip the skirt will light up when facing south. Oh! I know! You could wear it backwards. Problem solved.

Tip o’ the compass needle to that bon vivant, Josh A. Cagan.

* This is a joke, OK? A joke. If you actually think I am being serious about 2012, then I suggest you check your tin foil beanie for breaches.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Geekery, Humor
MORE ABOUT: 2012, compass, skirt

Comments (40)

Links to this Post

  1. Kompass-skj√łrt ? | Imagine | August 1, 2010
  2. Rok kompas LED | | August 15, 2010
  1. Pete

    Someone else has made a belt (or maybe shoes) that buzz when you are facing north. Nothing like positive reinforcement to teach orienteering!

  2. Chris

    I’d like to see that next to a NMR!

  3. ChazInMT

    OMG, yer so like, Totally dumb, When (and I do mean WHEN) the poles flip, you just wear it inside out!

  4. DrFlimmer

    So, if I were to dance with such a skirt, I could dance with Phil Plait all night! Sounds good on a first thought.

    Not so good any more, on a second one.

    No, we won’t do that. That is the third and final thought. Sorry, you’re unfortunate, Phil! ūüėČ

  5. Piesquared88

    Everyone knows what to do when things aren’t going well. You re-name it. Or redefine north. Either works.

  6. DOOD! Huge opportunity to market a Mecca-pointing burka to the Muslim world. We’ ll be rich!

  7. @ Evo Terra:

    Re: The skirt

    I’m thinking about a modification to have it put on the brim of a hat. If you want to face North, you turn until the lights come on. If you want to find out what direction your facing, you take the hat off and use it like a compass.

    Personally, I’ll just use my watch (provided there’s daylight).

  8. Being a natural slut, I would have put this on a T-shirt – with “Check out my Northern Lights” written in LED across the chest.
    She definitely needs to capitalize on this idea. It could so pay for a new telescope.

  9. HairybuffM

    :O I’d wear this skirt ANYDAY! so cool!

  10. NAW

    This is really cool. This can be worked into so many somewhat useful things.

  11. Calamity Janeway

    Geeks rule!!

    Speaking of LED lights and clever people….my hockey coach is a robotics engineer. He made a target thingy (scientific term!) for us to use when our goalie couldn’t make it to practice. It had lights in each corner of the net that were mounted on pieces of car mats. The contraption (do I know my scientific terms or what?!) would randomly light up one of the corners for the incoming shooter to aim at. If you hit it all the lights flashed. You could see in his eyes how excited he was about his creation as he made adjustments to the sensitivity settings etc.

    It was super cool for about 10 minutes until someone’s shot shattered the housing of the control box thingy hanging off the crossbar. That actually made him happy because then he got to build a better housing.

  12. Yeah, why limit yourself to just one color designating North? You could do all kinda of crazy things like setting up persistence patterns if you spin fast enough.

  13. jcm

    ” I would dance all night with someone wearing this.”

    I’m pretty sure Mrs. BA would love it.

  14. mariana

    oooooo i wants it, precious. shiny. There are many applications for this thing, as mentioned. She should branch out and capitalize on it. Tricky part might be getting the local declination set so it will register true north and not magnetic north.

  15. Andy Beaton

    You could wear it backwards. Problem solved.

    No, you have to stand on your head when you wear it.

  16. Samantha

    There’s another skirt out there with a similar concept – very awesome, using an accelerometer.

    When I saw the video to this at first glance, I thought is was the same thing. :)

  17. Sili

    She should hook up with the Utilikilt people.

  18. JB of Brisbane

    Have you ever had this conversation?

    “Stop turning the map around!”
    “I can’t, I have to know which way I’m going!”
    “Look, the top of the map’s north…”

    Here’s the solution. Chalk up another one to technology.

  19. MadScientist

    Is that geographic north or magnetic north, and does it work while performing a coordinated turn?

    @mariana #14: just plug in your iPhone; it can get the GPS position and either get the local magnetic deviation from the GPS or look it up on the web. Hmm .. I wonder if someone’s already written an iSkirt app for that …

    Now for red LEDs … I’d use red laser diodes and really dazzle everyone. No need to worry about lawsuits – no one will remember what you look like.

  20. Michel

    Now, if it was a kilt I wanted one, But a skirt?

  21. Why does the phrase ‘snowing down south’ keep coming to mind?

  22. I’m not sure exactly what this says about me, but I was sold the second that Dirty Projectors song started playing! ūüėõ

  23. Tim G

    I agree with Andy (#15). When the poles flip, the wearer has to flip as well. It is only logical.

  24. Markle

    @19 Madscientist What? Are you suggesting wires? That’s what bluetooth is for.

    Of course, we’d have to preemptively confront the “low-intensity RF give you ovarian cancer” conspiracy freaks….

  25. >”Of course, in 2012* when the poles flip the skirt will light up when facing south. Oh! I know! You could wear it backwards. Problem solved.”

    The amount of time I spent laughing at that comment belies my nerdiness. The pity of it all is that everyone I know thinks I’m laughing at the 2012 reference.

    I may actually have an opportunity to go the the South Pole this winter (summer there). I’d like to see how the skirt behaves there. Alas, I’ll have to be satisfied just to play with my phone’s compass app and a magnetic compass from my Cub Scout years. I don’t think I’ll be doing much dancing while I’m there.

  26. Alan

    Wow, she’s beautiful.

    Cool skirt, too.

  27. Rory Kent

    This aluminium isn’t working! I need steel!

  28. Crux Australis

    Dear Meredith,
    will you marry me?
    Love, Crux Australis.

  29. Brian Too

    Even more than the idea, I get a chuckle out of the dancing girl.

    However I think this is a bit of a one-trick pony. It needs something more, something to put it over the top. Here’s my idea: Get multi-coloured LED’s and colour code them for the 4 compass directions. All the lights are on at once, but as you change direction the lights change colour, perhaps blue for north, yellow for south, and so forth.

    If that will consume too much power (or is a little too day-glo), simplify it down. Have a single row of multi-coloured LED’s in the front only. Otherwise it’s the same idea. That way the wearer gets the best effect of their own garb.

    Still, hats off to the designer. She made something unusual and fun with a science twist. It’s not every day a person can say they did that!

  30. Space Bear

    Smart girls are so hot. Watch the longer youtube clip, Meredith’s redheaded interviewer had a sexy brain too! Hubba Hubba.

  31. Willard

    Best not wear this in Boston, it will be sure evidence you are a terrorist wearing an infernal machine.

  32. From the maker:
    Thanks. Wanna dance?

  33. Space Bear

    Meredith, you geekphrodesiac. Do you live in Chicago? And like space? And Bears? ‘)

  34. Robert Carnegie

    As for dancing: the person who has the compass should be leading, I think.

    Meanwhile the Daleks are designing a new model to add to their range – but fortunately they haven’t yet decided what colour it should be (don’t help).

    According to Aristotle and apparently someone called Abba Benjamin, it makes a difference whether some other things are done north-south or east-west, too. I suppose you can still use the skirt… In fact I’m looking at a Google Books page that also says that Talmudic medicine says you can tell whether an embryo is male at forty-one days, and tell whether it is female at eighty-two days. Uh, hey, guys, do you think… well, anyway, apparently you could just have used a compass in the first place. (I heard about this from the “QI” television programme.)

    As described, the skirt is indeed using magnetic north… how about a hat brim that has different colour LEDs for north and south, so that one of the two is always in your peripheral vision – or do you then need east and west as well?

    I believe you can buy an honest-to-GPS true-north(?) compass for around $30?

  35. Robert Carnegie
  36. lei

    We’ll make one of that effect with men’s garments too. It will be more unique when bordered with lanyards . ūüėÄ


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