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.
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.
Cooking isn't something that interests me much, unless it results in a fast burning fuel and a successful rocket launch!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
News: Brain Hacking and Thought-Controlled Quadcopters: The Good and Bad Future of Mind-Reading Devices
Until recently, brainwave-reading devices have pretty much only existed in science fiction. Sure, electroencephalography (EEG), the technology that powers these devices, has been used in medicine and psychiatry since the late 1800s, but diagnosing people's brains and reading their minds are two totally different things. The first EEG headsets available to the public were used mostly in gaming and even in fashion, but in the last few years, they've gotten a little more sophisticated.
You're hellbent on taking over the world, but one race of robotic minions isn't enough for you. With your hexapod robots acting as your ground forces, it's only natural to take to the skies. These cardboard quadcopters are the perfect air force for you. Combined, you are mere steps away from starting your evil takeover. Now you just need some water bots. The cardboard flying quadcopters are built around the MultiWii platform with the twin power of Processing and Arduino, so they are actually ...
There's no denying the coolness of an iPhone. But what if you pulled a homemade wooden cell phone out of your pocket instead? You'd probably be the talk of the town. If you like that idea, then make it a reality by building your own cell phone!
When it comes to melee combat, two swords can definitely be better than one. Throw a stun gun on top of that and you've got a seriously terrifying weapon. That's exactly what YouTuber jonathanj9969 did with his homemade double-bladed stun sword.
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.
Carving pumpkins into creepy looking jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween can actually become fairly boring and tedious if you’re doing the same thing year after year. This time, jump into a whole new realm of Halloween fun with some exploding pumpkin faces! I like to call them blast-o’-lanterns, but can call them whatever you want.
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.
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...
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.
Nothing to do this summer? Then spark things up with a little baking soda and some vinegar and make a tiny, working rocket. Best of all—you probably already have most of the materials and ingredients lying around the house. What You'll Need
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!
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.
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.
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.
André Broessel of rawlemon has developed a solar energy generator that can use both sun and moonlight to create usable power. Oh... and it's gorgeous. The device is essentially a huge glass sphere filled with water that uses a ball lens to refract light in a way that increases energy efficiency by 35 percent. It's completely weatherproof and has an optical tracking device, meaning that it can be incorporated into architecture. Here's a concept design of how it could be used to power buildings...
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:
You're never too young to start building your vast swarm of robotic minions. Taking over the world requires a whole lot of robots. The sheer volume of robots needed means your first wave will have to be made of cheap materials. After they take over key resources, you can upgrade to Kevlar and titanium. But to start, let's make popsicle stick insect robots!
Michael Faraday was awesome. He discovered electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism and electrolysis, and he invented the Bunsen burner (before it was the Bunsen burner). Because of his work, we can make suits that can withstand 1,000,000 volts of electricity and cases to protect our gadgets from nuclear attacks.
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'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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
One of the most annoying things about summer is mowing the lawn. Depending on how big your yard is, it can mean spending hours out in the hot sun while you could be doing something a lot more fun like watching the Olympics or making giant soap bubbles. Reclaim your summer with this remote control lawn mower that does all the hard work for you.