Previous: The Interactives Shop
Next: Crocodiles vs. Alligators



View count:186,027
Last sync:2024-06-13 03:30


Citation formatting is not guaranteed to be accurate.
MLA Full: "The Replicator." YouTube, uploaded by thebrainscoop, 9 April 2014,
MLA Inline: (thebrainscoop, 2014)
APA Full: thebrainscoop. (2014, April 9). The Replicator [Video]. YouTube.
APA Inline: (thebrainscoop, 2014)
Chicago Full: thebrainscoop, "The Replicator.", April 9, 2014, YouTube, 09:37,
Meet Max: The Replicator. Baby Turtle Maker. Termite Mound Architect. Giant Worm Enthusiast.

More about the show here:

NEW! Subreddit:


The Brain Scoop is written and hosted by:
Emily Graslie

Created By:
Hank Green

Directed, Edited, Animated, and Scored by:
Michael Aranda

Huge thanks to Max Garett for showing us around his shop! P.S. I promise I didn't steal any baby turtles.

Production Assistant:
Katie Kirby

Filmed on Location and Supported by:
The Field Museum in Chicago, IL

Lindsey Thomas, Flavia Resende, Evan Liao, Seth Bergenholtz, Martina Šafusová, and José Manuel Taveras each win an [imaginary] baby turtle for transcribing and translating this episode!


Emily: Hi! I'm with Max Garett, and I just found out his position is called the replicator, which sounds like some kind of cool Transformer. The Replicator! But, what is it that you do here?

Max: Um, so, Here in the replication shop we make — or recreate objects that can't be real or authentic for exhibits.

E: So everything that people see in the exhibits that is some kind of animal shape or recreation of a model — it's made in house.

M: Yeah, so that could be anywhere from an animal to maybe an artifact — bones, remains, fossils, food.

E: That's awesome.

M: Yeah, a lot of food.

E: I did not even know until I started working here that many of the things were actually made here, so I think it's really cool that you have this prop shop of sorts.

M: We're working on an exhibit — Biomechanics — some things we have here are some baby loggerhead sea turtles.

E: They're really cute.

M: The story behind them is the kind of built in GPS they have to migrate to the ocean, but this is something that I sculpted, and I took a mold of, and then cast into more durable material. So this is touchable.

E: Whoa!

M: So, something like this needs to be really strong so that anyone in the exhibit can't break it, so these are —

E: Like kid proof.

M: Exactly, yeah.

E: Okay.

M: And they're pretty desirable too, just to kind of take and stick in your pockets, so...

E: Oh yeah.

M: They have to be, yeah, down on the deck pretty hard.

E: You caught me. You guys are gonna like check my pockets before I go, I'm gonna have like 12, like, baby sea turtles.

M: We made some extras, just because.

E: Because they're cute!

M: They're so cute. They're adorable. So this is, you know, cast is a plastic that is almost indestructible, painted with a paint that's really durable.

E: Nice.

M: Just from everyone rubbing it and everything.

E: Yeah.

M: It's also really fun to make non-touchable objects, just 'cause you gotta — we're really restricted on the materials we can use — can't always come out exactly how we like it, but something like this Venus fly trap, which is not touchable — it's going to be under kind of an acrylic dome —

E: Mhmm.

M: Was really fun to work on and think about, because I got to use any material I wanted, so I could use a pretty nice rubber, paint it with something that's not too durable, but looks really good, and airbrush it. In the Venus fly trap there's trigger hairs — there's 3 trigger hairs on each pad, and that's what kind of makes the trap close on its prey and everything. So, I'm gonna have to inlay some little hairs in there too, which is really cool.

E: Is this actual size? Is this how big they are?

M: Oh yeah, no, this is a five scaled up enlargement.

E: Oh, okay.

M: Yeah.

E: Because this would be terrifying if I was in the forest.

M: Yeah.

E: Like this would eat a person.

M: I know, it's from like a video game or... Yeah.

E: Yeah, oh, like Mario.

M: Mario, yeah. Something like this also is a touchable, so this kind of snake is cast into — this is like all one solid piece, so this is all the same plastic, so it can never be really ripped off or anything.

E: Mhmm.

M: And it also needs to be painted with something that won't rub off.

E: This is the flying snake —

M: Yeah.

E: from Biomechanics.

M: Yeah, this is the Paradise flying snake, and —

E: That sounds terrifying.

M: Yeah. This kind of touchable part right here is why it's kind of hanging off, and you can feel it's —

E: Oh yeah.

M: A heart was sculpted into it,

E: Oooh.

M: because the way it kind of glides is it flattens its ribs and — One kind of defining feature is that its heart becomes pronounced in its chest —

E: Yeah.

M: because it flattens out, so there's kind of a nice little area where you can — mess around with that.

E: That's cool.

M: Yeah, all the kind of acrylic items are going to be pretty awesome, because they're all going to be mounted and displayed on these kind of like, really big LED light disks —

E: Whoa.

M: and just like illuminated above, yeah, so these are in these — cast in these nice water clear resins, which are really beautiful. And just to display the different chambers, we're going to have a variety of different animals — I think this is a turtle heart.

E: Wow.

M: But there's going to be like a turtle, a fish, amphibian, and these are all, you know, not to scale, but to see the different chambers, and everything. And these are just some different talons — different bird talons, like a Harpy Eagle, and stuff like that.

E: They're beautiful. So, what else do you have? You have like a giant worm over here.

M: Yes, this large worm diorama.

E: Is this to scale?

M: The worm actually is, yeah.

E: What?

M: This is from Queensland, Australia. It's this large blue worm that gets to be about 3.5 feet long — it's pretty awesome.

E: Wow.

M: It's a hydrostatic skeleton, the way it kind of undulates its body to move through tunnels and everything. I got to 3D model this kind of shape, and then take it to the CNC machine, and — you know — cut it out.

E:  The CNC being the magic table saw —

M: Yeah, the beautiful robot —

E: Yeah.

M: That makes things. The kind of overall shape is pretty exact, and to do that by hand would have been pretty difficult —

E: Yeah.

M: So it's nice to make this shape — but, you know, this was something also that originally we got the information from, and it was basically, you know, like create an excerpt of earth that can display the worm in its tunnels. We were able to kind of collaborate on a kind of more dynamic shape than just kind of like a block

E: Yeah.

M: So we kind of created this like core sample of earth, kind of.

E: Do you have real — You have real twigs and stuff in there.

M: Yeah, the top layer was kind of like a recipe I made of real soil — so actually, the top is actually not even really replicated I guess, just dirt, but it's like embedded with this resin.

E: I think I would be terrified walking around and then all of a sudden have this giant blue worm stick its head out of the ground.

M: Yeah, it's pretty fantastic — and this is not even actually one of the largest earth worms.

E: What?

M: There's some other ones that get to be about over 6 feet long. Kind of the same size in diameter, but, yeah.

E: I don't even believe that.

M: This is a giant termite mound, and this is to display the architecture of the termite mound —

E: Wow.

M: and how the termites diffuse heat through their mounds, and how — kind of like contemporary architecture recreates that in some buildings today and everything.

E: Is this actual size? Is this life size?

M: Yeah, well this is on the smaller scale, but this is like —

E: What?

M: the mean size of an actual termite mound.

E: And termites are not — they're not big.

M: No, they're tiny. Yeah, they're tiny. and like an actual termite mound too is — what it's made of, their mounds are almost stronger than concrete, sometimes, and —

E: Whoa.

M: But so, yeah, this is going to be done almost the same way. This is kind of an under-texture of fiberglass and a non-toxic resin we use

E: Okay.

M: And then we cover it in this kind of paste that the other one is covered in, and then texture it to make it look like dirt and earth.

E: Wow.

M: So, yeah, it starts off like this, and then it kind of goes to that as a next layer, and then we kind of coat it all. But this is too large to travel in one piece, so —

E: Okay.

M: It's going to be made into 2 separate pieces that kind of lock into each other.

E: Yeah, it's massive.

M: Yeah, it's huge, it's about 9 feet tall. But this is like the average size of a mound — I mean they can get way bigger too.

E: That's insane.

M: Yeah.

E: It makes me want to be an anteater.

M: Yeah, I know

E: Like never ending food source. I like how you put Max — you carved your name in there.

M: Just a test, you know —

E: Yeah. Do you guys — do you sign your work a lot? Like hide it in little places? Because I would.

M: It is fun to try to put little Easter eggs — there are like in a lot of dioramas around museums some little — people hide things, and stuff, that was made a long time ago.

E: Yeah.

M: Yeah, maybe, maybe I'll put something in there.

E: Whoa!

M: So that's, that's — so it's going to be displayed like that, but it's to — cartilage needs to be put on there, and then we cast in another water clear resin that's kind of pigmented. Kind of pink for — it's Synovial fluid, I think it's called —

E: Yeah.

M: around the cartilage. But, so this is what's kinda end up being like in displayed on —

E: That's amazing.

M: in a case like that.

E: So you must learn a lot of like biology and anatomy working in here.

M: Yeah,

E: Synovial fluid, that is not a term most people know.

M: No. No. This is a recent thing for me, but yeah, it's great because we have to do a lot of research on things also, but a project that comes along, we're given in depth information packets by a developer

E: Mhmm.

M: to give us all the information that we need on what we're doing and everything, so — yeah, no, there's a lot of research and a lot of learning involved.

E: That's cool. Learning is cool.

M: Learning is cool.

E: We advocate learning on this channel. Is this actual size too?

M: This is like as big as they get, yeah.

E: Someone was a little generous with this model.

M: Yeah. little bit.

E: This thing is pretty big though. I would not want to be swimming and then run into this guy.

M: No.

E: It's eye is as big as my hand.

M: Mhmm.

E: It must be really rewarding when you finally have the exhibit, and it opens, and people are running around putting their hands over everything.

M: Yeah, it's super cool. I mean, for me at least, this is my first time in the replication shop making a lot of stuff from scratch and everything. It's been — since I've been here, it's a lot of like recreating things for shows that have already been built, so its been nice to make things from scratch and have some creative freedom and to change what an object —

E: That's cool.

M: looks like, yeah.

E: Yeah. I would have never imagined like having this kind of job, like having something where you have to be scientifically inclined, and you have to understand the reason why you're trying to make something like this, make it presentable,

M: Mhmm.

E: and make it fun. So what is your background in?

M: I studied sculpture at SAIC — School of the Art Institute of Chicago —

E: Nice.

M: and I graduated in 2012, I was interning here my last semester —

E: Wow.

M: and then they hired me. Full time, yeah.

E: That's nice! So you haven't even been here that long.

M: No, like year and a half, yeah. It's good.

E: How's it been?

M: Fantastic.

E: Good.

M: Love it.

E: Good. We didn't even pay him to say that.

M: No, well... yeah.

E: A little bit.

M: Yeah.


E: It still has brains on it.