Crazy experiments you would not normally admit to.

All done at a pretty young age:

Attaching an Estes rocket engine to an arrow and firing it straight up.

Using a potassium nitrate mix to heat a CO2 cartridge until it exploded. It didn’t explode, the cap blew off and the cartridge buried itself in the ground. I wasn’t standing far away.

Attaching a propellor from a fireworks helicopter to the top of an Estes rocket engine and igniting it. It does not act at all like a helicopter.

Empty a whole bunch of Snappers (the little paper things with some grit and fulminate of mercury inside) into a film can. It was about half full when I dumped one in and the whole thing went off. No huge explosion, just grit flying all over the place.

There’s plenty more.

Bet it beats speed-dating, though.

Reminds me of a time I really wanted cereal, but had no milk.

Oh, what’s this? Half and half? Well, I knew from when I was a kid that straight half and half in cereal is gross. But in theory, isn’t milk basically just “watered down” half and half?

No it is not.

Yeah, I was idly wondering why people never had black coffee with a slice of lemon in it a few months back - I figured it wouldn’t be lovely, but couldn’t visualise (if that’s the right word) what the flavour would be like - so I tried it. Eeeugh! It tastes like bitter, sour ashes.

I was probably around 7 or 8 when I decided to see whether earth worms could survive under water. So I got a coffee can, filled it about 2/3 with water, and dropped in several worms. Then I stashed it behind the garage. This was in the fall, and I had totally forgotten about it all winter. It wasn’t until spring, when I discovered my little experiment, now thawed. The worms, of course dead, had turned white, with some black bands around them. Totally freaked me out for a long time.

On the other hand, one time I was at my Dad’s and he has been drinking no-fat milk lately but also had half and half for me. I have also stopped adding half and half to my tea, but mixing a little half and half along with the fat-free milk tasted almost exactly like 2% milk.

When I had my first apartment I had a(not very clear minded) train of thought like.

  1. I need to clean the toilet.
  2. I am peeing in the toilet.
  3. Urine has ammonia in it
  4. Ammonia is a cleaner.
  5. If I refrain from flushing the toilet will be clean by tomorrow.
    experiment :Fail.

My most recent experiment that will qualify me for the loony bin relates to some of the topics I have been following on SDMB. I was looking for an easy to understand analogy of how the brain works. While at the paint store the other day I had this epiphany. I was watching him take a few primary colors and by injecting just the right amount of different colors he could attain any color imaginable. My first thought was, WOW! thats exactly how the brain uses chemicals to create our moods or states of mind. I kept thinking about it and decided that their was an uncanny similarity in the way the brain mixes chemicals and how mixing primary colors creates huge variations in color.

  I started wondering if their was anyway that I could conciously detect the color of a mood or state. I figured I would be a perfect test subject because I go though so many states in any given day. I have my reflective states, my creative states, my get things done action states, sex, cooking, etc. 

   Without going into great detail I spent several hours last week laying down with a blindfold on trying to recreate moods and then attempt to discern the color. Mostly fail! But some real interesting results never the less.

One of my variations (several attempts) was to attach wheels to an Estes engine (and beat the Bonneville Salt Flats record). I only got it to work once, with a wide track set of wheels sacrificed from my Cub Scout Soap Box Derby car.

Also experiments with rockets taking bugs as passengers.

All of these beat my experiment of cutting my own hair with scissors and no mirror. It was a partial success at best.

One of my cohorts tried the rocket engine on a plastic toy car. The results were surprisingly similar to the helicopter experiment. Maybe not all that surprising really.

I wonder if I could discreetly attach one of those rocket engines to one of my flight arrows at the flight competitions?

Me and a friend once set out to discover for ourselves which chemicals burned with different colors. This involved a Bunsen burner, several chemistry sets, his father’s photo developing lab, his mothers stained glass supplies, my mother’s gardening stuff, and contents of both our parent’s garages. Mostly what we discovered was what various chemicals smell like when burned. Conclusion: they smell really bad.

We also tried to determine which chemicals worked best to kill weeds. This involved most of the previously listed equipment, and my friend’s back yard. We determined that weeds are plants, and grass is also a plant, and thus anything that killed weeds also killed grass. Conclusion: grounded.

The plume of smoke might tip someone off.

How about using a hollow shaft filled with compressed air? A plug could be attached to the bowstring and when the arrow releases it could propel the arrow through a tiny nozzle. No evidence left when it lands.

I manage to persuade my younger brother to ride his bike off the roof of the garage wearing a homemade parachute. Needless to say, the results were inconclusive because mom ended our research project after only one iteration.

That would be fun to do just to see if I could get away with it, I would have to turn myself in after the fact . It would really be cool if I could get the air to release at its apex. They are about 200 yards in the air.

Well at least you didn’t try smoking it! Or did you?

Laundry soap (the powder kind) in the dishwasher is a great way to clean the kitchen floor. There was plenty of suds for the dishes and the floor.

Detergent also works well to clean a residential street, when mixed with a bunch of water in a large garbage barrel positioned at the top of a hill. Simply pull the tennis ball out of the bung hole and observe the sudsing of the neighborhood.

Probably my most celebrated one was when I was about 10, and managed to lay hands on a bottle of potassium nitrate (my parents were pretty good about letting me spend my own cash on what I wanted), because Mom didn’t realize what it could be used for.

Combine that (70%) with flowers of sulfur (20%, on hand for tick & chigger repellent at scout campouts), and a ground up charcoal briquette filched from a friend’s dad’s barbecue pit supplies, and you have a recipe for very crude gunpowder.

I ground it with a flat brick on a paving stone until it was very powdery, heaped it up, and ignited it with a match taped to a long stick. It worked! It burned with a fairly surprising whooshing/hissing noise, created a LOT of stinky white smoke, and left the weirdest, gunkiest orange-hot, bubbling residue on the paving stone.

I did this many times when mom and dad would leave me at home- basically I’d meticulously clean up, and put the paving stone back upside down, so that the scorch marks and residue were down.

Eventually, they came home early, and Mom asked “What are you doing?” My response was truthful; being caught red-handed, I figured lying would get me in more trouble.

“Making gunpowder. It works too.”

Mom shut the door, went inside, and a minute later, out comes Dad. I’m terrified at this point, until he says “Gunpowder? And it works?”

“Uh, yeah- let me show you.” So I lit off my latest batch, and he watched with a sort of startled wonder on his face.

I’ll never forget the next words out of his mouth. “Hey- cool! Let’s make a bomb!”

So we ground up a pretty large quantity of this crude black powder, made a fairly tight tube out of notebook paper and scotch tape, and stuffed both ends with match heads (we didn’t know how to make fuses at the time), and sealed it up tight. We then built a little fire in the middle of the backyard, and tossed the “bomb” in. After about 3 minutes, apparently one end burned through first and the match-heads lit, and we had a rocket that shot about 40 feet across the yard, and floated gracefully in flames to earth. We were just as happy as if it had blown up.