The left photo shows an insulin syringe with 27 G needle spraying methylated spirit (= "metho" - ethanol/methanol) through a little propane burner flame. The right photo shows kerosene which burns more completely but is thicker.
The left photo shows a 10 ml syringe with 18 G needle and shows the patch where the unburnt metho lands. The center photo shows an insulin delivery pen with a 30 G needle which was not particularly impressive. The second arrangement had the needle fixed in the flame and was a lot easier to control. The right photo shows crossed beams (remember Ghost Busters - Never cross the beams).
I used a 27 G scalp vein (butterfly) needle taped onto my little butane torch. The needle was bent into the flame. On its own this gives too much flow with a droopy and yellow flame. I got better results with crimping the end of the needle in pliers. When I overdid this and blocked it I bent it off to break it and this is what gave the best results. No doubt it is constricted in the end. The beam is visibly flatter with less tendency to fall but there is still unburnt metho droplets at the end of the 'beam'.
The left photo shows a shot onto our garage ceiling. The
ceiling shot was interesting because the flame tries to rise but can't so it
gives a strange diffuse glow rather than flames. It looks rather unnatural
in the photo but was untouched (other than basic
cropping/exposure/compressing). More fun than an English essay
according to my son. The right photo shows my prowess with the
flame thrower. The pressure is relatively low coming from a 20 ml syringe and
long medical extension tubing and held in the other hand that you don't see.
This is the desired effect. Now, how can I solubilise some Strontium in the alcohol to get a red flame like Luke's light sabre?
ring launchers 2006
The small can makes an effective and simple vortex generator.
Next the big one made from a discarded compost tumbler measuring 80 cm diameter and 90 cm deep and mounted on a sturdy frame.
The left photo shows me finally finding a use for those old bike tubes. The centre photo shows the elastic straps attached to the diaphragm made of a rubberized picnic blanket. The right photo shows the heater for the commercial fog fluid.
The left photo shows the construction team from left of me, Chris, Michael and Justin. The centre photo shows a flash outdoors on a still night which highlights the vortex well. The right photo shows that there is no escape from the speeding vortex.
Above shows video 9MB of slow and fast shots. Run mouse over
A later version uses a commercial fog generator such as used in discos. The fog is a proprietary mix of propylene glycol and triethylene glycol in water.
Above shows another slightly smaller vortex ring launcher made for the Physics Dept. Improvements include being lighter, portable and having an internal light and sights. The left photo shows the red internal light. The centre photo shows a basketball shot. The right photo shows the rings in a lecture theatre (with smoke detectors turned off) being lit by a projector. (Perhaps a use for the Windows blue screen of death).
These photos show an oscillation that develops in a slow moving ring (the top one) is passed nearby by a faster ring. The slow moving ring becomes ellipsoidal in each axis alternately which lasts for several cycles.
The photos above show some unusual vortex ring shots. The left photo shows a "UFO" shot which has bee rotated to be vertical. The centre photo shows a sunset shot of multiple rings. The right photo shows a ring passing into a tree with the physics building in the background. The flash fired for this one giving a strange quality.
I am now mobile with my vortex generator. My 300W Honda generator is a bit
weak for the 700W smoke generator so has to run through a variac and takes
longer to heat.
Above shows the long range shots taken in a school gym for the Discovery Channel video. They show the range of the rings and the clarity after a long run. These are going at walking pace and tend to drift up being slightly warm from the smoke generator.
Above shows the commercial fog generator (about AUD $80 at Dick Smith's) as used in nightclubs. The fog is a proprietary mix of propylene glycol and triethylene glycol in water and a $10 1 litre container lasts all day.
Above, my son, Chris, blows underwater vortex rings of air in the pool. Dolphins can do this as well.
Colored smoke rings 2008
I used a standard boating flare that produces orange smoke. Under Australian maritime law it is required that you carry 2 red light flares for night and two smoke flares for day. This pack of 4 is available for AUD$70. Each smoke flare burns for 60 seconds. If you cut each flare into 1 inch slices with a hacksaw, then the 10 smoke flare slices will cost $7 each for 12 seconds bright orange smoke.
The left photo shows the flares with a section cutout. The next photo shows that it won't work in open air as it just burns without orange smoke. Presumably oxygen must be excluded so the next photo shows a short aluminum tube as a firing chamber with ignition by my MAPP gas blowtorch. The right photo shows the dense orange smoke resulting.
Above are photos of the orange rings in action.
First off, here is a CD burner (literally). Place a CD (or presumably DVD) in the MO and run it. After a second or so sparks appear and shortly after flames after which it is wise to turn off to avoid magnetron damage in view of the lack of loading.
Left and centre photos show the sparks then flames. The right photo shows "Windows 95 Starts here" and presumably ends here as well.
This is a 2 second exposure capturing the fine branching sparks as they spread out over the CD.
The fractal patterning is shown nicely if the CD backing is translucent or transparent when held up to the light.
Left photo shows a block of aerogel (from eBay, where else?). The right photo shows a live 0.5 g Monarch butterfly sitting on the aerogel which weighs 0.8 g. Volume of the aerogel here is just on 10 cc hence it is 80 mg/cc. At about AU$ 80 for 0.8 g, this makes it about 4 times as expensive as gold per unit weight.
Aerogel is typically 99.8% air and is is made by high temperature and pressure-critical-point drying of a gel composed of colloidal silica structural units filled with solvents. The resulting silica dioxide structure is sponge like with microporosity on a nanometer scale. It has many unusual properties including extreme lightness (as low as 3 mg/cc), excellent insulating properties (39 times better than fibreglass) and high electrical insulation (1018 ohm cm compared with glass 1015). It was discovered in the 1930's but came into the public eye with aerospace uses including Mars Rover insulation and as a comet dust collector with Stardust 2.
It can support 4000 times its own weight.
It shows laser beams clearly just like thick smoke. This photo does not really show how clear it actually is.
electrolytic capacitor/rectifier 2006
Left photo shows a sparkling of both electrodes with 150 VAC applied. The right photo shows a diffuse glow seen with dark adapted eyes, which starts at about 60 VAC associated with a little sparkling of the solid electrode.
Here's my take on what is happening. If you insert an aluminium electrode in
a solution then it will form an oxide layer and when the metal is positive
will block current flow. This, as I understand, is the basis for
electrolytic capacitors and the reason they are polarized. Here we have two
aluminium electrodes which is the equivalent of back to back electrolytics
which are then non-polarized.
Use a 6 VAC transformer or winding with a dropping resistor of 8 - 10 ohm 5
use a variac. Even use the other speaker of a stereo pair as a
dropping resistor. I needed about 2.0 VAC i.e. 0.5 W.
Photos above show varying effects as the power is increased.
I tried this with a subwoofer and the results were a bit disappointing initially.
The left photo shows the 12 inch subwoofer driven with 40 W at 50 Hz (12 VAC). The right photo shows only limited extension of the corn flour. Removing the plastic had little effect until I got out the frequency generator and a 100 W audio amp and picked out the resonant frequency of about 22 Hz where cone excursion was greatest and up to one inch.
The left photo shows the 12 inch subwoofer driven with 40 W at 50 Hz (12 VAC). The center photo shows a shot at 25Hz where the corn flour lumps get thrown around. The right photo shows a close-up of one of the airborne lumps.
You can get some unusual shots with the funny properties of corn flour. Here I was pouring it out with a spoon. The pour is falling but nowhere near as fast as it should.
Zamboni battery (sort of) 2006
The left photo shows the electrode on my hand and the underside of
another one. I have also connected it to a meter to show that 0.6 V is
generated across this cell to my hand. The center photo shows
0.7 V when connected to some aluminum. Current at short circuit is 1mA.
The right photo shows the result with thin strips in series generating 2.9
V. Contact between the aluminum foil and the silvered electrode is
tenuous without pressure though.
Here is another battery made from small squares of zinc plate each of which is tack soldered to copper foil squares each touching the electrolyte gel of a pad. Initial short circuit current is about 20 mA but this falls rapidly and this LED is being driven at 1.5 mA. Open circuit voltage is 4.8V so about 0.84V per cell.
Water travels uphill
under its own steam
The left photo shows a close up of a large drop of water dropped onto a hot ratcheted surface. It is traveling uphill from left to right. The surface was made from the iron laminations from a very small transformer. They are held in place with a crocodile clip onto an aluminium bar and are tilted downward from left to right. The spirit level in the background is dead level as is the camera. The centre photo shows two drops travelling uphill. The right photo shows a drop that has gone up the hill and down the other side.
The left photo shows the MAPP gas blowtorch heating the laminations to 287 degrees C. The centre photo shows the infrared thermometer. Temperatures have an optimal range of perhaps 200 - 300 degrees C The right photo shows that the temperature has dropped to around 140 degrees and a water drop will wet the iron and boil with splashing and disintegration of the drop. Apparently the same happens with many liquids including alcohol and liquid nitrogen.
Bernoulli Ball 2008
The story behind the peacock feathers: There is a dedicated Bernoulli setup
at the Gravity Discovery Centre in Western Australia where I have 4
displays. It will blow up two 6-8 inch plastic or polystyrene balls.
The addition of a smoke generator helps to show the airflow.
The pic shows one of my new purchases - one of three stainless steel gazing
balls which had been floating in an ornamental pool for 3 years unsold in a
Diorama in a bubble above. Note the thinning film on the top of the bubble which has stopped reflecting light. Reflection shows my son and I plus some trees.
Above shows a smoke generator driving the bubble generator giving smoke filled bubbles.
They otherwise behave just like ordinary bubbles - except they vanish in a "puff of smoke". How cool is that.
You can even make orange smoke filled bubbles using a segment of a marine flare. Except it caught fire and sent flames through my smoke generator like the afterburner in a jet engine.
Sparkler effects 2008
Photos above show a sparkler attached to an electric drill and a 5 second exposure.
Above left photo - Jaimie are you ready? Centre photo: Jaimie unwittingly pushes the RED BUTTON and explodes. The right photo shows how it was meant to be done. Same sparklers in a cordless drill but using a rotating color filter.
LED light patterns
Above left photo This is a small commercial battery powered LED array that my wife wanted suspended above the BBQ. I have covered one of the LED's with blue cellophane. The right photo shows it suspended above the camera. Now just give the lights a push and take a time exposure.
Above left photo Pushing the array in a simple circular motion with some spin gives intricate geometric patterns. Center photo It's like you could almost grab it. This looks very much like a toroid used on top of my Tesla coils. The right photo shows the path followed by the one blue colored LED.
This next one below is a little fan with programmed LED's in one of the soft plastic blades and was bought in Hong Kong (thanks Gail). The flash rate and sequence of each LED varies.
Above left photo The fans with its 5 LED's is stationary. The right photo shows it running and you can see the pattern which constantly changes.
Left and centre photos show the fan rotating spiral giving a lot of detailed patterns. Pushing the array in a simple circular motion with some spin gives intricate geometric patterns. It's like you could almost grab it. This looks very much like a toroid used on top of my Tesla coils. The right photo? Hmm.. only a mother could love a nerd like this.
Left and centre photos show drawing with light using a handheld LED torch and a fiber optic spray. The right photo shows me drawing what looks a bit like a lightning bolt next to me.
Above left photo shows my version of "plasma whip" modelled on the IronMan 2 version. The right photo shows the effect from two small decorative neon tubes spun in a circle.
You see some strange creatures attracted to the shed lights at night.
Photo 1 below
Photo 2 below
A typical Australian road about 5 minutes from home. Something is not right
but you have to enlarge the photo and look carefully for the key. It changes
the whole interpretation.
Photo 1 An angle grinder cutting through a pipe with the view down the pipe.
Photo 2 The shot is a 5 minute exposure on a cloudy and very dark night. The key is the streaks of stars in some areas. This is what it really looks like with car headlights on.
This page was last updated January 30, 2011