Haunting Science

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Anyone who knows me knows I love big displays of science. Sure, vinegar and baking soda is a mildly interesting reaction, but put it in a ziplock and it explodes, which is much better! Put it in a volcano model, and ...well, we have all seen that. Mentos and Diet cola is another spectacular reaction. I am always looking for something that makes a big impact.

You have probably seen a Jacob's ladder. Nothing says "mad science" like a buzzing, sparking thing that serves no purpose but to impress. Why does it make us think of Frankenstein? Because Kenneth Strickfaden was a genius who knew how to wow an audience with science - and he built the Frankenstein equipment!

You know what else is impressive? Fire! When I found out about a 100+ year old physics demo known as a Rubens Tube, I had to make one! It is science as it was meant to be - amazing! Build a Rubens Tube for yourself, and it will only take one playing of the famous "Halloween" theme or the tubular bells from The Exorcist for you to know it was time well spent. It also makes a great little show for your Halloween party.

I have a friend who will do a "fire dance" show at any opportunity - though not indoors like the nut in the video. Even if your house did not burn down, it sure would stink.

Here's another little science trick that makes me think of mad science, or aliens, or some horrible living slime - Cymatics! It just takes cornstarch, water, and a woofer. The water/cornstarch combo is called oobleck. Weird enough for a haunter to touch, oobleck moves like John Carpenter's "The Thing" in a petri dish. Just one more weird display for your surreal haunt!

Just about everything we do uses science, of course. My point is certainly not that we need to make haunting "educational" or anything like that. Pneumatics, prop controllers, motion sensors - all these are, naturally science. It's just that for the most part they are hidden. We want them to see the prop, not the cylinder - the illusion, not the mechanism. What I propose is a dimension of visible and even audible science that helps us create a surreal and even frightening atmosphere in the production we call our Haunt. Submitted for your consideration.

Glowing Pumpkins. Crazy foaming pumpkins. Dr. Megavolt. Ghostbusters on a Tesla Coil
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  1. Just_Morticia's Avatar
    now see, this is very,very cool
    We did a Haunted Trail with a guy that was a MASTER Prop Maker. As he was putting up his 'toys' I would sit there usually with my jaw dropped as I am very prop making impaired

    The Jacobs ladder was sooooo cool... So was his CFG.

    Me--they keep anything that even "may" have explosive properties away from me--I'm not real good with the mathematics and chemicals, hehehe
  2. JustJimAZ's Avatar
    I bet you could make something pretty cool Just Morticia! A Jacob's Ladder is about the simplest build ever. If you want one, the hardest part is finding the transformer, and $50 will solve that particular problem.

    I'm glad you like the post though! I plan to do a Wednesday blog for a while. I hope to hear more from you.