Jack-O-Lantern

DIY SCIENCE

You've gotta love Popular Science. The magazine traces its history back to 1872, when Charles Darwin was a frequent topic, and is having a very good time looking into the future: "Defend Your Home With Artificial Intelligence" urges one cover headline, while another gushes about "Blasting Space Rocks With a Warhead - It's Science!"

Surely no article could better symbolize traditional culture combined with 21st-century technology than this from the October issue's "Manual" feature: "Create a Smoking Pumpkin With an E-Cigarette."

"Want to put your neighbors to shame this Halloween?" it begins. "Pimp your pumpkin with a miniature smoke machine. . . . Start with a type of e-cig called a clearomizer, available online or at your local vape shop." (E-cigarettes produce vaporized nicotine, thus the name.)

It's too complicated to explain here; we'll just say it involves "fog juice" made from three parts water and one part glycerin, an aquarium pump, a soldering iron and a universal AC adapter. You have to take apart the clearomizer battery at one point, and you need to seal the aquarium tubing with a glue gun.

(Under the label "Shortcut," there's a low-tech version, getting more or less the same effect with fog juice and candles. But honestly, isn't it cooler to use the e-cig?)

If that's not enough fun, you could turn a few pages and try this: "Turn a Shoe Box Into a Phone Projector." This is for people who have been watching YouTube videos on their tiny iPhone screens. Now they can project the phone's pictures onto a wall with nothing more complicated than the box, a magnifying glass and a couple of rubber bands: "Buy some new Crocs, gain a mini movie theater," the magazine says. Hey - it's science!

 

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