Watch this build and test of a high velocity vortex cannon

A low velocity vortex cannon isn't too hard to make, but a vortex cannon that's this high velocity takes a lot of trial and error. Read the rest

Watch Skippa the rock-skipping robot get optimized

Skipping stones takes a little practice and finesse, so Mark Rober enlisted his extended family to help build the perfect rock-skipping robot. Their creation, named Skippa, ended up helping humans learn, too. Read the rest

Squirting superglue into a borax solution causes quite a reaction

Kids are going crazy making slime with borax and what-not after watching YouTube, but these household chemicals can have seriously powerful reactions that need to be done cautiously. Read the rest

Watch what happens when gallium gets put on this aluminum racket

YouTuber DaveHax had some gallium lying around, so he wanted to see the chemical reaction when it was applied to an aluminum tennis racket. Read the rest

Mice can get into amazingly tight spaces

I spent the last few days fighting off a mouse infestation in our RV. So far I've trapped and tossed six of the furry little bastards out on their asses. As I began the search for where they were getting into our rig, yesterday, I got to wondering how much space they can actually squeeze through.

According to this video, I'm doomed. Read the rest

Whipped cream in a vacuum chamber

Can you de-whip whipped cream and meringue in a low-pressure environment? This important question was posed by The King of Random. The results are expansive.

The experiment repeated in a larger chamber:

"In a vacuum chamber" could be the new "by a hydraulic press" Read the rest

Experiment: can a pop bottle explode on the store shelf?

Who wants to see a lot of plastic beverage bottles get filled with pressurized air until they explode with a loud bang? I do, and so did Chris Notap, who decided to see what it would take to make a pop bottle pop. The pressure in a bottle of pop is about 50 psi, and the many different kinds of bottles Chris pumped full of air exploded at between 150 and 250 psi. The explosions were quite violent. Chris says the caps are designed to come off before the bottles can explode, which is a relief. Read the rest

Watch: A man lights a sphere made of 42,000 matches and it's stunning

What started off as an experiment to see how many matches it would take to create a sphere ended up as a gorgeous video of what a 42,000-match sphere looks like when it burns. It took months and months to glue the matchsticks together, and only minutes to go from flames to black smoking ball. The fiery green sphere was shot from three different angles – watch them all, as each angle has its own dramatic beauty. Read the rest

Miniature motors powered by spinning drops of liquid

If you've ever observed "wine legs," the rivulets that form when you swirl wine in a glass, you've seen the Marangoni effect. Watch how scientists are using this effect to create tiny motors that emit no pollutants. Read the rest

Watch a super cooled nickel ball freeze a bowl of mercury

Take one nickel ball, a half liter of liquid nitrogen, and a bowl of mercury, and watch what happens when the supercooled nickel sits in the bowl of mercury for a while. Read the rest

Egg drop experiment fails

Soaring to a millions views in a matter of hours, this video (permalink) illustrates the trials and tribulations of science. Come for the experiment, stay for the peer review.

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Blomkamp to make experimental film series

Filmmaker Neill Blomkamp (of District 9 and Chappie fame) is producing a series of experimental short movies to be released on Steam and YouTube.

He'd teased the idea in a tweet posted in April, and the response was good enough to get the green light, with the director promising a level of transparency and public collaboration rarely seen in Hollywood.

Here's a teaser:

Embedded up top is the "Presidential Motorcade" clip Blomkamp released during the presidential election campaign, with its freaky gold nightmare limousine crawling along to 14 seconds of tense synthetic murmurs. More! Read the rest

Satisfying shaving cream eruption inside a a $30 DIY vacuum chamber

Chris Notap is having fun with his $30 DIY vacuum chamber. In this video, he experiments with shaving cream inside a bottle with different kinds of nozzles cut into the screw-on caps. Read the rest

Fun with plasma vortex force fields

YouTuber Proto G shot these cool experiments with plasma vortex force fields. Scientists are looking into large-scale practical applications of the force field generated in this manner: Read the rest

Haunting an X-rated movie screening... for science!

In 1960, parapsychologist Anthony Donald Cornell donned a bed sheet and attempted to scare an audience watching an X-rated film in a movie theater. Why? Cornell, a believer in ghosts himself, wanted to understand how people reacted during "apparitional experiences." Today at the BBC, University of Oxford experimental psychologist Matthew Tompkins explores Cornell's strange experiments and considers how his methods may have contributed to the study of "inattentional blindness." Indeed, the ghost in the movie theater experiment is not unlike Daniel Simons and Christopher Chablis's classic "Selective Attention Test" from 1999. If you're not aware of that experiment, the video below is a must-see. From the BBC:

For Cornell, the experiment was another failure. None of the audience reported anything remotely paranormal. Many saw nothing unusual at all: 46% of the respondents had failed to notice the Experimental Apparition when Cornell first passed in front of the screen, and 32% remained completely unaware of it. Even the projectionist, whose job was to watch for anything unusual, reported that he had completely failed to notice the apparition. Those that did see ’something’ were not particularly accurate in their descriptions....

For me, these failures to see are by far the most exciting part of the experimental series. The pleasure of reading Cornell’s original reports, which were published in 1959 and 1960 in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, is that he writes in matter-of-fact academic prose. He dutifully reports numbers and exact quotes from participants, and walks the reader through the details of his experimental designs without a glimmer of apparent irony.

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Pumping electric current through pencil graphite - ouch

In this YouTube video, a fellow runs 10 amps through a cylinder of pencil graphite, burning his fingers (accidentally on purpose, I'd say).

He has a good article about graphite on his site:

Graphite is highly conductive unlike diamond or wood. But it is conductive along the layers, not perpendicular to them. It has many different applications. Generally it is crushed into powder that can be used to make other components like battery rods, deposited traces on electronics and such.

But pencils are the most basic use of them. If you draw a thick line using pencil on paper and measure the resistance across it, you will see your line is conductive, and if you bring your probes closer on the paper over the line, the resistance gets lower, like a potentiometer.

Read the rest

Pitch-drop experiments: science's long wait

Maggie Koerth-Baker reports on the strange science of an experimental result decades in the making.

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