EVIL GENIUS' LIST OF PRANKS AND
HI-TECH PRACTICAL JOKE IDEASWILLIAM J. BEATY
(convenient proof that everything in WEIRD SCIENCE must ALSO be a hoax, right?!)
I've neither built nor prototyped any of the following devices. Some are
hazardous and should not be built or operated. Others can be misused. This
list is for your information only. If you choose to build any of these,
you do so entirely at your own risk.
Megavoltage Body-chargerWhat if you could be charged up all the time, as if you had your hands on a large VandeGraaf generator? Your hair would stand out straight. Anyone you touched would receive a huge zap (so wear chainmail gloves.) You could crash laptops for miles around! Fortunately there's a way to build a VDG machine without using any moving conveyor belt. If you have a very small hi-volt power supply and some sharp needles, then you can inject charges into the air. If you have a small powerful fan, then you can transport those charges against a (rapidly increasing) high voltage. Wear some thick insulator-shoes, strap the device to your leg so its air jet aims at the floor, and away you go. Create a buzz when you walk into the room (or maybe more like a crackling hiss.) Creep people out by pointing at them (via 'sticky ions' effect.) Perform hands-on "anti-healing" ceremonies for cellphones and PDAs!
Road MusicCarve computer-generated ripples in the surface of a main highway, and when vehicles pass over the surface, mysterious voices whisper, and distant music plays. Two ripple-tracks, one for each tire, should give stereo sound. Two tires on each side will make it all echo-y. Is this already being done? Little sub-threshold voices which say "Buy popcorn." "I will vote for Bush" "All your base are belong to us!" Also see the Halfbakery Also see slashdot-J, Musical roads in Hokkaido
(J. Dujardin says to look at number thirteen on hiddenmickeys.org
Broken UFO partsEmbed numerous "repulsor" coils and a power supply in a small, fake UFO crash remenant, so that small independent segments of the object hang unsupported in the air nearby, via the battery-powered "Meissner effect" generator. (independent segments must be magnets, of course) Take it to a mainstream researcher, but don't let them look at it in detail. Visions of alien room-temp superconductors should haunt the person forever after!
Radioactive nightmareIf a radioactive object is surrounded by the blue glow of Cerenkov light, then the level of emission is absolutely lethal. You'd better be viewing such a glow through many inches of lead-glass. If not, then you're already dead. Here's a way to surround a real-world object with a 3D blue glow. Scare the crap out of your scientist friends (maybe literally.) First cover one wall of a room with retroreflective screen. The glass-bead tape used for car warning signs would work. Don't make it obvious, so hang pictures on that wall, etc. Now hold up a small blue light bulb with the retro-screen in the background. See? The screen sends the blue light back to the bulb, but its aim isn't perfect, and the bulb is apparently surrounded with a glowing, three-dimensional nimbus. Now place an opaque object in front of the bulb. The glowing blue nimbus remains! Any object with a light bulb behind it will develop an "aura" when held before the retroreflector screen. Walk around, and the nimbus stays around the object as long as the retro-screen is in the visual background. Now hoax up a paint can as a lead-shielded "transport container," and rig up a metal bar with battery-powered blue lights on one side. If your fake Geiger counter is roaring, and you don heavy gloves and use tongs to remove the bar from the "shielded enclosure" while keeping the blue lights aimed AWAY from your victims, they'll see an apparent radiation source surrounded with a blue glow, and suddenly realize that it's far too late to do anything about it, THEY'RE ALREADY DEAD.
"Stink Beam" projectorA large, hollow-ended cylinder is attached to a bass loudspeaker. The open end of the cylinder is covered with a flat plate, and a 3in. hole is put in this plate. This forms a vortex launcher, and when a pulse is applied to the speaker, an invisible ring-vortex or "smoke ring" of air will be launched. Pulses can be repetitive, so a continuous beam of vortices is projected. Pulse waveform can be tailored to produce robust, fast, silent vortices. Each vortex incorporates air from within the cylinder, and carries this air along as it travels. If a scent is placed in the cylinder, you have a "stink gun" which can target a distant nose without being intercepted by others, or can surround a distant object with any desired scent. If specific gases are added, then when the "stink beam" encounters a distant source of ignition, such as a cigarette, the vortices (and maybe the launcher device!) will explode. A computer, video grabber, IR camera, and some stepper motors could be assembled into an IR-seeking cigarette-targeting acetylene gasball launcher. No Smoking!
Yucky ionsIf a sharp point is attached to the dome of a VandeGraaff generator, the point will spew charged wind. If you stand in this air stream, it will charged your clothing and hair, which will start clinging to your body. Ewwww!, feels like you've been dipped in vegetable oil. So, bolt a VDG upside-down within the ceiling, with ion-needles pointing downwards, and a "stand here" sign on the floor below. (only works in fairly low humidity, the lower the better.)
"Free energy" hoaxFake device is composed of complex structures and materials, a tiny battery-powered spark generator, and in the distance, a hidden, "stink beam projector device" rigged for acetylene. The projector shoots gas pulses which cause occasional loud and unexplained explosions within the device. If both an ion projector and an acetylene launcher are used, it may even be possible to create sparks and explosions in a distant device which contains no power supply at all!
Even better "Free energy" hoaxUse the 'Energy sucking receiver' effect to gather power from a special transmitter. The receiver has an array of tuned circuits with the coils acting as loop antennas. The transmitter has an identical array. The tuned frequencies are scattered all over the band, and will seem like low-level white noise. However, since the transmitter and receiver are coherent, each tuned circuit provides significant energy, and if all of them are passed through rectifier diodes, the total energy might be enough to run a small motor. At the same time, the EM field of the transmitter would be almost immesurably small.
Elvis MiracleUse my whitelight abrasion hologram method to encode an image of Elvis or other religious icon holographically into an everday surface, (car hood?) Announce the miracle, charge admission, and even befuddle the experts who come to debunk it. Impossible!, a real hologram, but encoded into a crude painted surface!
Roadside Kilovoltage Source.Build a sturdy VandeGraaff generator into a metal and plastic column, with a handcrank on the top metal terminal and a large label saying "TURN." When the crank and stepup gearing is turned, the generator operates. Place it outdoors, and surround it with a thick plastic insulating plate. Anyone who cranks it will feel a prickling sensation, their hair will stand up, and the next person they touch will get a huge "static zap." Better still: win the lottery and have thousands of them built and distributed around the country unannounced. Permanent Infamy!
4-Lane dot matrix printerA truck-mounted device spits a row of paint dots under computer control. Drive along the Interstate while printing out political diatribes. Make our highways look like Usenet rants. Use high-pressure water sprays instead of paint for temporary, less illegal road gibberish. Can you be arrested for CLEANING little spots on the highway? Colored dyes would work well on packed snowy roads (a little carbon copier toner or fluoroceine dye goes a long way.) Rent out ad space in fields near airports, then do your printing in water/seed slurry for variously colored crops. Hang a stretched-out version of one of these devices as a long cable between widely-separated power boats to make an ocean graffitti printer (On water surfaces on windy days, tiny bits of oil make enormous blotches!) Also: lunar dust is supposedly dark grey, so electrostatically shoot charged magnesium oxide (white) downwards from lunar orbit for a more noticable and long-lasting advertising sign on the moon. "CHAIRFACE!"
These guys independently invented the
Also a bike-carried chalk-spray road printer
And now here's a Graffitti machine using winches and a single spray can. That reminds me. I first visualized the spray-can dot matrix printer around 1978 while looking at the frat-boy graffitti along the top edge of the huge brick chimney at the power plant for the University of Rochester campus/hospital complex. The frat symbols were 6ft tall, yet they appeared tiny and barely visible on the giant chimney. I realized that the vandals were doing it wrong. Put a hundred spray cans on a horizontal metal rod, then rapidly lower the rod with ropes. Keep it horizontal as a computer pushes on the paint can tips with solenoids. Make chimney-graffitti that's thirty feet across and several hundred feet tall!
Kindergarten Solar-powered Death SquadTake a large crowd of children out into the sunshine and give each one a 20cm square mirror. Show them how to aim all of their little spots of sunlight at the same distant object, then stand back and see what they do. Better yet, run away.
Ball-lightning incidentEd Harris on usa-tesla has discovered that argon gas lets you make a large 'plasma globe' effect at ambient pressure. Build a battery-powered Tesla Coil, clip it to your belt, and run a wire out to an argon-filled mylar sphere. When turned on, the tip of the wire will grow a large blazing white ball of lightning filaments. Run screaming through the night, chased by a ball-lightning in a hardly-noticable clear bag. Charred, smoking clothes would be good too. Ahhhhhhg! It's biting me!
Build a BorgThe Yale psychologist Stanley Milgram discovered what he called the "Cyrano Effect", and experimented with strange group-organism he dubbed "Cyranoids." Build one as follows: provide the "brain person" with a radio transmitter. Give a radio receiver and earphone to a second or "body person," then have the 'body' agree to carry out all orders spoken by the distant 'brain.' Even better would be a video RF link so the 'brain' can see and hear through the 'body's' eyes, and maybe add a radio channel which controls vibrating transducers on the 'body' person, so that the 'brain' can silently command their movements with a joystick rather than verbally. If one 'brain' runs several 'bodies,' you've got the start of a small Borg civilization! If you could rent the equipment for cocktail parties, would you pay more to be an amoral central controller, or a brainless puppet who might do ANYTHING?
The same psychologist discovered the power of this closed causality loop common in World War II:
Phaser WeaponIf pure argon is injected into a laminar stream of air, the argon stream will support sparks of enormous length. If connected to a fair-sized Tesla coil, the argon stream should produce linear arcs many feet long. This would be easily disrupted by wind or by a small fan. Indoors use only? Reach out zap someone! A similar effect can be had by running an argon stream through a hose connected to a distant tesla coil. Hot dangerous arc-plasma will pour from the hose end. "Don't unplug that rubber hose, its not full of water!" Fill a bowl with cold argon, place a tesla coil underneath, then stick your hand in the bowl. Lightning shoots out of your fingertips. Fill an entire small room with Argon or even Neon. Hook yourself to a small tesla coil and enter the room, and you'll look like something inside an "Eye of the Storm" plasma globe. (Hold your breath, of course!)
Longrange Defacement RayCO2 lasers of hundreds of watts rating are very small and not that expensive. With a large-diameter beam and the proper collimator you could create a "woodburner" which leaves a charred black mark several hundred feet away. Mount it in an old rusty van along with computer and XY scan mirrors (might have to install pneumatic jacks to keep the van steady.) Drive to a spot with a clear view, use your joystick to set the anamorphed position of your artwork on yon billboard, then hit the return key and slooooowly the original propaganda is modified or replaced by that of your own design.
Duck-plunge Mechanical FountainWhen a large rock is flung into a pond, the waves spread into a series of ripples of descending wavelength, as if the water has "Fourier Transformed" the splash signal. It has! The water surface is not a linear medium, therefore any signal becomes "chirped" in a similar way to the "whistlers" produced in ELF radio sets by distant lightning pulses. If you could wiggle an underwater object and produce an "antichirp" series of ripples, (a temporally-reversed version of the ripples from a big splash,) then as the ripples moved, they would slowly compress together and finally create a line or circle with a little explosion of spray.
Ripples also take the form of an expanding circle. Rather than just
reversing the "chirp", we could also reverse their direction.
If water ripples could be created as inwards-curving rings, so that they
focussed themselves to a point, so much the better.
Therefore build a bicycle-powered wave generator which can be placed at
shore of a pond. It would slowly vibrate a long, curved wall which floats
half-immersed in the water. When aimed at a distant unwary duck, a series
of ripples is created. The duck sees the distant ripples approaching, and
contracting, and concentrating, then... DOOOSH! WAAAK-Aaak quaaak
Or build the device onto a large fountain pool. Design the wave-generator
to produce several superimposed "antichirp" patterns per revolution of the
flywheel. Then, if you pedal at the right speed, a mysterious zone of
violent splashing would appear out in the middle of the pool. Do
this in a lake by using a very long, very weak wave generator. The
waves would remain invisible except at the focus which was hundreds of
feet away from the wiggling boards.
BEAT ME TO IT
Suppose the wave-generator was adjusted to produce a *line* of splashing,
and every so often the antichirp waves would contract and produce a long
burst of "chop". This line might act to reflect other water waves,
especially if the event was repeating at the same frequency as the waves.
Perhaps we could trap a standing wave in the space between the shore and a
nonlinear barrier made from "chop." Or design the wave generator to
create a square *hole* in the water temporarily. Make a really big one,
so all the small 3rd-world countries can tickle the ocean for awhile and
have it swallow approaching aircraft carriers.
Soliton waves can exist on the surface of water. The "tidal bore" is one
such soliton wave. Perhaps a soliton can be assembled from many smaller
waves. (This probably occurs in nature, where freak waves sink large
ships.) If freak waves can exist, then cranking a bicycle-powered wave
generator for a couple of minutes could create the smaller waves which
contract together, then sum nonlinearly to build a gigantic travelling
soliton. Very cool museum exhibit!
Hidden images on videotapeThis one isn't so useful. A cool trick for techies? If you view a television signal on an oscilloscope, you see a froth of squiggly shapes. Also, as objects move around on the TV screen, the squiggly shapes on the oscilloscope move and flow. Suppose you write software that changes the TV signal so the reverse happens? Then the television picture will be a mass of wavy moving shapes. But if you observe that video signal using an oscilloscope, the signal will contain a perfectly clear television picture.
DOH! The musician Aphex Twin figured out a use for this. But don't apply it to TV signals and scopes. Instead apply it to sound and spectrum analyzers! That way you'll get weird swervy noise, but when the noise is viewed with a spectrum analyzer, you'll see some clear images. The results were recently posted on memepool, see usefulcontent and cleth pages.