Sputnik was the very first man-made object to be sent into space. Though it was a truly epic accomplishment, all this Soviet sky surfer actually did was transmit a constant beeping noise back to the surface.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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 build a sexy looking water-fuel generator that will convert your tap water into an extremely powerful, clean burning gas!
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!
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.
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?
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.
Everyone dreams of having super powers. Flying, invisibility, and x-ray vision are popular, but my favorite is fire power! I've always wanted to be Wheeler from the Captain Planet kids show, and now I can with these handheld fireballs of awesomeness. The fireballs burn at a low temperature, so they are safe to hold in your hand and throw (shoot) at imaginary enemies.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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 finally got around to trying out another one of Will's mad science experiments and found out that this one was actually more satisfying (and less frustrating) than my slightly uncooperative jar jet. There's something very pleasing about making potassium nitrate at home in the kitchen and then watching the transformation from semitransparent liquid to spiky, frozen crystals. That was the best part for me, second only to igniting it with its sugar companion.
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...
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.
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.
Dreams are like an internal human holodeck. Inside your mind, anything is possible, from your grandest wishes to your worst nightmares. This is all well and good, but what if you could control your dreams and become the omniscient god of a handpicked reality whenever you go to sleep? Inception took this idea to the logical extreme by invading other people's dreams.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Homemade circuits are amazing. You can build any kind of circuit on a simple perfboard, as we have seen in previous projects. However, some projects require very tiny circuit boards. We could special order some boards from a printed circuit board (PCB) factory, but that will most likely involve a high price per board and a few thousand miles of delivery service to pay for.
Here's how to make dry-ice at home, or wherever you feel like it! All you need is a pillow case, and a CO2 fire extinguisher.
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!
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.
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.
Fans of Doctor Who know that the sonic screwdriver is the ultimate tool. It can unlock doors, turn on lights, detect life forms, solder wires, and sabotage weapons.
If you're the kind of person who frequently does science experiments at home, you probably have a hot plate. But if you're more of an occasional amateur scientist (or just don't want to buy one), it's much easier to hack your own.
You can do a lot with liquid nitrogen, including freeze and shatter gummy bears, make homemade Dippin' Dots, and scare the crap out of your friends by dipping your hand in it! If you can't get your hands on any, you can even make it yourself. Or, if you want to try something a little more destructive, you can use it to make an explosion and send 1,500 ping pong balls flying.
The only thing better than successfully pulling off a new experiment is doing it with household materials. You get to laugh in conceit as professional scientists everywhere spend all their grant money on the same project you just accomplished with some under-the-sink chemicals! However, there are times when DIY gets dangerous. Some household chemicals are not pure enough to use and some are just pure dangerous. Let's take a look at two problems I have encountered in the course of mad sciencing.