That’s not a carnivorous blob escaped from a B-movie—it’s a musical instrument called the Slime-O-Tron II. When Brooklyn engineer Eric Singer isn’t building elegant, music-playing robots, he designs unconventional audio controllers that send digital signals, known as MIDI data, to music software, turning them into sounds. For his latest such invention (he built the original Slime-O-Tron last year), Singer cooked up some slime from a recipe he found online and infused it with graphite to make it conductive.
As the black goo oozes down the wooden platform, it contacts copper nails connected to a controller located underneath, which converts the electrical resistance into MIDI values that are then translated into various audio effects. Singer has nails patched to different computer-generated voices, which read or sing preprogrammed song lyrics, movie scripts and speeches. He calls the artistic effect of the amorphous slime creating a jumbled cacophony of voices “musical onomatopoeia.” It’s an instrument that, in a sense, sounds the way it looks.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.