One of the best things about Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy is how realistic he makes the caped crusader feel. Unlike the Joel Schumacher or even the Tim Burton versions, Nolan's world seems grounded in some level of scientific fact. But just how close is science to actually being able to replicate some of the Dark Knight's gadgetry?
I love making beeps and bloops with the Arduino pitches library, but sometimes archaic 8-bit tunes just don't cut it. Whether you want your robot to terrify your enemies with a demonic synthetic voice, you just need a pocket boom box on the go, or you want to a miniature guitar amp, a simple LM386 amplifier can crank up those signals loud enough to play through any speaker.
The best chemistry experiments are those you can perform with items already laying around your house. With only some sugar, salt substitute and an instant cold pack, you can make your very own gunpowder! Being able to make homemade gunpowder without a trip to the store can be a lifesaver, no matter if it's just for testing out a Civil War-era musket, blowing up stubborn tree stumps, or preparing for battle when imperialists overrun your country.
Here's how to build a sexy looking water-fuel generator that will convert your tap water into an extremely powerful, clean burning gas!
Etching your own circuit boards is tons of fun, but etching requires strong chemicals to dissolve the copper plating on blank circuit boards. The normal ferric chloride solution works well, but can be expensive and leaves permanent stains. Luckily, we can whip up our own etchant at home with everyday chemicals! Better yet, our new etchant will turn an eerie green color rather than the dull brown of ferric chloride.
Smartphones are crazy awesome. You can do your banking, track your children, find directions, and even pretend to have a mustache. The only thing that these personal supercomputers are missing is physical interaction with the environment.
Microcontrollers are great. You can do anything from water your garden to catch wildlife trash diggers in the act—and on the cheap. I prefer to use the Arduino microcontroller because of the large and helpful community built around the website. Though it is my favorite, there are some drawbacks to using an Arduino board in every project. It gets expensive, the board can take up too much space, and the rat's nest of breadboard wires are a pain to repair.
The agents of empire do not always arrive with warning. When you are besieged, surrounded, and infiltrated, imagination is often your best weapon against the oppressors. If all you have at hand is some duct tape and a disposable camera, fear not, you have the makings of a powerful taser!
This is an awesome little science trick that has to be seen to be believed. Simply by emptying a bottle of "supercooled" water into a glass, you can watch it turn into ice right as your pour! It's no magic trick or chemical craziness—it's normal water and you can try it yourself right in your own home.
In this project, you'll learn step by step how to modify a microwave oven transformer into a high-current device that can pump out 800 amps of electrical current, which is enough amperage to melt metal. If you liked the Metal Melter you saw in my previous project, here's how you can make your own!
Metal is a great material to work with. It's rigid, tough, malleable and conductive, but sometimes the part we need doesn't exist in any store. In order to create custom pieces, you need to either melt the metal and cast it in a mold, or heat it until it's soft enough to shape with your hammer. Properly melting metals can be a bit dangerous in our home shop, but we can make a coffee can forge for all of our home blacksmithing needs.
Collodion—it's one of those things that you probably never heard of before, but have actually come across many times in life. It's used for all kinds of applications, from photography to special effects, and it even has a few medical uses. So, what exactly is collodion? Photo by Bostick & Sullivan
Eavesdropping from a distance can be tricky because it usually requires some sort of bug or transmitter. It's easy to transmit audio through lasers, but you can also use lasers to build a microphone that picks up audio from a distance. LucidScience built the Laser Spy System for about $20. To make your own, you'll need a cheap laser pointer, an NPN phototransistor, a headphone amp, and a few other small pieces listed below. A light-to-sound circuit is installed in a small plastic box with the...
If you've got a birthday party to plan for a young budding scientist coming up, a little nitrogen should do the trick. In this project, I'll show you 10 "super cool" tricks with liquid nitrogen that you could try, but probably shouldn't!
I'm sorry to say, but Dexter Morgan hasn't thought of everything. Just because he's the best blood splatter analyst in the Miami metro area, doesn't mean he can't be taught a thing or two about blood. In fact, I'm sure this is something he'd be glad to know. Spotting a bloodstain is pretty easy at a crime scene, especially when there was no attempt to cover it up. When the scene has been wiped clean, there are still ways for forensic investigators to detect washed away blood, like using a rea...
Want to make your own soda or maybe just bring a dull one back to life? Homemade sodas don't always live up to the store bought ones because they can taste flat by comparison. This quick and easy method makes super fizzy drinks with only four ingredients. Because putting dry ice in a sealed bottle would effectively turn it into a bomb, you'll need to make a safety valve for the bottle.
Computer viruses are terrifying. They are undetectable, dangerous, and operate constantly right under your nose. For the average computer user, there are only a few repair options. You could buy expensive antivirus software that causes more problems than it fixes, you can wipe your hard drive clean and lose all of your important data, or if all else fails—just switch to Linux.
It's September 1st, 1859, and the Earth looks more or less like something out of an apocalyptic movie or Sci-Fi novel. All communications have failed, it's so bright outside at midnight that people are getting up and making breakfast, and people all over the world are seeing auroras. The solar storm that produced the electromagnetic pulse and caused all this mayhem is known as the Carrington Event, and storms like it happen about about once every century.
Omniscience is not required to make some really cool shit happen. Yes, it took a while, but we can make fuel from the Sun! Solar panels are basically our answer to God. And now that we can make solar electricity, finding the most efficient way to harvest it is tricky.
CONTEST ENDED: WINNERS ANNOUNCED This contest has ended and winners have been announced. To see who won, check out our quick winners post. Thanks to everyone for submitting their ideas!
Cooking isn't something that interests me much, unless it results in a fast burning fuel and a successful rocket launch!
Balloons are fun, but the helium ones are always more entertaining. So today, we're going to learn how to make hydrogen gas by combining toilet bowl cleaner with aluminum foil. With hydrogen, you get the same lighter-than-air properties of helium, plus it will explode! Historically, this has proven disastrous, but for our tiny-scale experiments, it will be safe and fun!
At one point in time, Tesla coils were actually used for things like wireless telegraphy and electrotherapy, but as technology advanced, they shifted to a slightly more enjoyable purpose—entertainment. What's even more entertaining than using a Tesla coil? Building your own. One of the best portable Tesla coils out there is this mini acrylic version by Daniel Eindhoven, aka TeslaCommander. It's made almost entirely of acrylic plastic, minus the steel sphere, and copper wire and tubing. When t...
Here's a technique I used to whip up a batch of super cheap and easy to make smoke flares! WARNING: Ignition of an incendiary or explosive material may not be legal in your area, so check local laws before attempting. Use of this video content is at your own risk.
Old newspapers come in handy for many different uses around the house, from birdcage liners to shipping cushioning and even a little fish cooking. But for backyard rocket scientists like Markus Bindhammer, they're more suitable as an ingredient for rocket propellant.
Solar panels are an amazing invention. Catching energy from the Sun before it even enters Earth's food chain, photovoltaics are like an all-natural nuclear power plant. Unfortunately, the constituted parts of a solar panel are rare, valuable, and subject to the coercive forces of market competition.
Here's how to make a simple form of a slow burning fuse from materials around the house. WARNING: Ignition of an incendiary or explosive material may not be legal in your area, so check local laws before attempting. Use of this video content is at your own risk.
I think it's fair to say that every maker yearns for a 3D printer. You can replace circuit board connectors, fix your glasses, create ski grips, and make whole machines out of printed plastic parts—even a 3D printer. But without a 3D printer on hand, you can always resort to Sugru.
If you are a pet owner, going on vacation can be stressful. Usually, you need a friend or neighbor to come over everyday and feed your pets. However, by enslaving robots you can keep your pet happy and enjoy a stress-free holiday.
As some of you Mad Science readers will remember, we recently covered the separation of water into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis. Passing a current through water can rend it apart, but we can also recombine that oxygen and hydrogen to make electricity! This is the principle behind those vehicles run by hydrogen fuel cell engines.
Want to build your own life-sized, working replica of WALL-E? Be prepared to take on a second job! Mike Senna spent two years perfecting his own version, working 25 hours a week and totaling somewhere around 3,800 hours for the whole project. He had no blueprints to go by, so he spent a lot of time watching the movie over and over to get everything just right. The video below shows some of the construction; skip to about the one minute mark to see WALL-E in action.
Lying is awesome. From a very young age, children learn that flat out denying the truth gets you out of trouble and helps keep you calm in the face of horror. But what happens when you just have to know if someone, say, used your toothbrush? You could ask them to take an expensive and arduous polygraph test.
In a previous project, I showed how to build an electrical Jacob's ladder using an old microwave oven transformer (MOT). In this project, I modified the secondary coil on the MOT, which converts it from a high voltage/low current device into a low voltage/high current metal melter!
With the microwave oven transformer (M.O.T.) salvaged in a previous project, a simple electrical circuit can be rigged to get high voltage arcs to fly outward and upward along a "V" shaped spark gap.
Whether you're in an airport, restaurant or waiting room, the insidious grip of televisions on human life is omnipresent. Sometimes it's nice to talk to other human beings while looking at them directly—actually hearing what they have to say.
In 1958, Patrick Flanagan invented the Neurophone, a device patented in 1962 that allows radio signals to be picked up by the human nervous system. The skin is the organ that receives the signal, converting it into a modulated molecular vibration, which the brain interprets into sound. Basically, it gives one the ability to 'hear' through the skin, making it sound like the audio you're hearing is actually in your head. It's kind of like having headphones in your brain. The only problem was th...
Home chemistry is great, but what happens when you forget to label your chemicals? How do you know if you turned a clear glass of ammonia into a clear glass of unobtainium? Chemists have a tool for just that.
Jet engines combine oxygen from the surrounding air with on-board fuel to burn at very high temperatures and create thrust in the direction of the flame. Rockets, which we will learn about in a later post, are similar but carry oxygen internally and can therefore function in space!
Here is how you can build a frame for your MEGA SOLAR SCORCHER in under an hour, and for less than $8!! This is effectively a 4 foot magnifying lens that concentrates insane amounts of heat from the sun. What would you do with all this free solar power? My design for this custom "Scorcher Frame" is easy to use, and incredibly cheap to make, as you can see in this step-by-step video.
Whenever we make a homemade circuit, we use what are called through-hole components. Any components with long metal leads is a through-hole component. They are great for soldering to, but it's tough to fit enough through-hole resistors and capacitors into a smartphone. To get those last microns, we have surface-mount components for SMDs (surface-mount devices). These are all of those teeny, tiny things you see when you crack open your digital camera or laptop case.