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!
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.
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...
Science-fiction writer Jules Verne predicted many scientific breakthroughs, including the moon landing, tasers, and nuclear submarines. In his 1874 book The Mysterious Island, Verne writes:
Cooking isn't something that interests me much, unless it results in a fast burning fuel and a successful rocket launch!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Making your own circuit boards can be a daunting challenge. You have to design a schematic, test it on a breadboard, design the board layout, and then after all of that, you still have to print and etch a board!
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.
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.
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!
To make soap, you need fat, and if you've seen Fight Club, you're probably well aware of where soapmaker Tyler Durden got his fat from. Liposuction clinics. If you're not willing to go that far for a perfect bar of homemade soap, you can just use some drain cleaner and America's favorite food instead—bacon!
Even if you live in a big city, chances are you have some wild raccoons or foxes that cannot abide a vertical trash barrel. While apparently omnipresent, these phantasmic critters usually vanish in the night leaving only a shameless trail of refuse you never wanted to see ever again. While I haven't found a way to stop them, I can help you snap some photos of the dastardly creatures.
Here's how to build a sexy looking water-fuel generator that will convert your tap water into an extremely powerful, clean burning gas!
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.
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.
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!
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?
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
Glass is one of the least reactive substances known to chemistry. It is the standard container material for almost all lab chemicals because it's so inert. But there are a couple of substances that have strong reactions with glass. Sodium hydroxide, aka solid drain cleaner or lye, can easily be stored in glass as a solid, but when molten, it reacts violently with glass and can actually dissolve it away! So, the next time you clog up your drains with broken glass beakers and flasks, rest assur...
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...
Writing secret notes with lemon juice was one of my favorite pastimes as a child. All it took was a small flame to lightly scorch the paper and reveal the hidden message. Now that I'm tall and pay bills, lemon ink just isn't exciting enough anymore. Luckily, we can use another kind of invisible ink to write in fire! By using the saltpeter, we can whip up invisible fire ink in no time.
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.
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.
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!
Around the world, X-People (yes... there are X-Women, too) are under attack from an intolerant sapiencentric ruling class. Integration without equality is a farce. Autonomy is denied outright. Human prejudice cannot abide a mutant state. Human fear, born to hate, imposes itself on the life of every mutant.
You've made a bottle rocket (or ten) and a sparkler bomb, and now you want to put those empty plastic bottles to a new pyromaniacal use. With a little rubbing alcohol and a match, this video by io9's Esther Inglis-Arkell will show you how to make your own homemade rocket booster in a bottle.
Ever wonder how all of those tiny chips and components can fit inside your laptop or smartphone? If you tried to squeeze them in there yourself, your laptop would quickly become too heavy for your lap, and your mobile phone would need wheels to stay mobile.
Just about every household gadget we own runs on 1.5 volt batteries of one size or another. Wouldn't it be great if you could reuse all of those dead AA, AAA, and D batteries after they've passed on? It turns out you can make a simple circuit called a "Joule Thief" to reanimate the undead flesh of your deceased batteries and create a zombie battery.
How To: Make a Mini Flamethrower, Exploding Fireball, & Flint Bomb Sparkler with Disposable Lighters
Whether you've got an itch for a mini-flamethrower, a shower of burning sparks, or a exploding ball of flames, these little fireworks-producing lighters may be the answer to your pyrotechnic cravings!