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.
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...
I loved the Gold Rush unit back in third grade. We went up to the American River and panned for gold, and my panning skills balled above all. I got like three tiny pellets. Of course, it was all fool's gold, aka pyrite, but it was still pretty legit. And this was before wearing gold chains was cool—or not.
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.
I love robots. They have the potential to evolve into Asimovian destroyers of the human species, but have only just mastered the art of cleaning my rug. They have an ever increasing cool factor and a growing number of cheap and simple components that let the hobby roboticist reach for the burning miasmas of plasma. But to get to the stars, we need to start with the basics.
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.
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.
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.
You knew that the food you eat gives you energy, but did you know it can actually power a thermal lance with enough heat to burn through steel? A thermal lance, as in, the tool used to demolish buildings and bridges.
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.
Have you ever wondered what sort of microscopic critters are floating around in your water? Well, you can find out with just a few bucks worth of materials and a laser pointer. Really. That's all it takes to build your very own homemade laser projection microscope, aka a water drop projector.
Your favorite device is running low on juice and needs a couple new AA batteries—and with a quickness. You run to the store and grab the first pack of AAs you see. But should you? There's tons of options available, so which make and model gives you the most power per dollar?
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.
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.
There is something special about a secret knock. It gets you into secret super villain meetings and is a surefire way to test for rotating bookcase passages. Secret knocks usually work with an intimidating drug lord and for policeman listening at the door for the correct pattern of raps.
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 big fireworks day is almost here, but most of you are limited in what you can do when it comes to celebrating the Fourth of July with a bang. Unless you live in a dry area prone to wildfires, one type of fireworks you can probably still legally buy are sparklers.
I finally got around to trying out this jam jar jet project. The most successful and longest lasting pulse was somehow the only one I did not record. You can imagine how frustrating that probably was, though my tenth and final attempt was nearly as satisfying. But even the failures were fun to watch, especially the blue flame floating, almost dancing, around the jar. I especially liked the small foghorn sound that my first failed attempt produced.
Ever wondered what the inside of a burning rocket looks like? Well, thanks to Valve engineer Ben Krasnow, now we know. He built a homemade hybrid rocket engine that's see-through so you can actually watch how it works. And even though it's probably a really bad idea to try this at home, he made a video so you can build one, too. Just don't say I didn't warn you.
Recreating one of Will's mad science experiments, I made some potassium nitrate crystals. This was definitely the most fun part of my DIY smoke mix. I can't win the contest, but I'm just putting it up here for fun, since I liked the pictures so much.
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...
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.
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!
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.
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.
Not many people fly kites anymore. Most of us don't have the patience or attention span because, let's face it, we're used to smartphones and other gadgets that have games and apps galore to entertain us. Heck, you can even fly a kite on them if you really want.
House plants are a refreshing reminder of the rich biosphere teaming with life just outside of our hermetically sealed human dens. They calm us and clean our air. But what would you do if you came across a glowing green flower on your dinner table? I would be startled, but not shaken.
Spring has sprung, which means it's time to plant all those delicious vegetables and lucrative cash crops. If you are like me, every year you meticulously plan every aspect of your garden before dutifully neglecting it all summer. I decided enough was enough and built this simple automatic watering system.
For those of you who enjoyed the oogoo tutorial we did, this tutorial from instructables shows you how to make molds from 100% silicone gel for casting resin! I wonder if you could also cast other silicone shapes using a silicone mold...
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!
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.
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.
What's the first thing you would do once you realized you were lost in, say, a desert? If you're like me, you would immediately pull out your cell phone and start dialing every number. But what if you have no service? What if your battery is dead?
Frosty the Snowman is a fairy tale they say, but this microscopic snowman is very real and just broke the record for the world's smallest snowman. (Though, it's not Guinness-official yet.)
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:
How To: Send Your Secret Spy Messages Wirelessly Through Light with This DIY Laser Audio Transmitter
Looking to transmit some super-secret audio communications to your other spy buddies? A laser is the perfect tool for getting your sounds heard from a small distance—without anyone intercepting them— even if it's just a cover of your favorite pop song. A laser audio transmitter uses light rather than radio waves to transmit sound. This is a much more secure way to send audio communications because the laser is a focused beam of light, whereas radio waves are not controlled, so they can be pic...
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.
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.
News: Potassium Chlorate—How Pyromaniacal Mad Scientists Take Care of Cockroaches and Pesky Gummy Bears
Pyromania is definitely nothing new on WonderHowTo. From flamethrowers and hydrogen fireballs, to flame-making pistons and wine corks, to simply burning steel wool fireworks and DIY smoke mix, we've covered it all. But when pyromaniacal mad scientists feel the need to release some tension in the lab, gummy bears and cockroaches become the victims of euphoric oxidation by way of molten potassium chlorate. A recent video by famous YouTube chemist NurdRage shows one of mankind's most despised cr...