Gray Matter

Meet PopSci's resident mad scientist Theodore Gray, master of concoctions and combustions

by Jeff Sciortino

PS0703002Jeff Sciortino

Periodic Table

And be sure to check out Theodore Gray's one-of-a-kind periodic table at periodictable.com.

Each month, Popular Science features one of Theodore Gray's DIY (if dangerous) experiments. See the whole list here.

2006

January

Making a Perfect Match
How do you create a mixture that can easily burst into flames, but only when you want? Just use one of the most unstable mixtures on Earth, plus Elmer's glue

March

Save a Snowflake for Decades
Create a lasting cast of nature's perfect crystals with a drop of chilled superglue

April

Nickel Growing in Trees
Electroplating makes bumpers shiny and rustproof. It also makes these beautiful bits of industrial waste

May

Stir Up Some Nylon
As one of the first synthetic materials ever made, nylon changed fashion--and the world. Now you can make thread yourself by pulling it from a glass of chemicals

June

Rocket Food
Want to see a real sugar high? Launch a model rocket with Oreo cookies

July

Ice Capades
Ice is supposed to float, but with a little heavy water, you can make cubes that sink

August

Dry Ice Cream
Skip the fancy ice-cream maker--all you need is a pillowcase and a fire extinguisher

September

Playing With Poison
Mercury used to be lots of fun--before we knew that it could kill you. Here's how several pounds of it made the first electric motor spin

October

Making Salt the Hard Way
Sodium + chlorine = your favorite popcorn condiment (and lots of smoke and fire!)

2007

February

A Tall Glass of Juice
Power your stuff like it's 1899 by building your own liquid battery

June

Atoms and Eves
Before lava lamps and laser light, all you needed for romance was some radioactivity

July

Pretty Penny
Turn your cheapest coins inside out using some hardware-store chemistry

August

Make Your Own Ethanol
Brewing your own fuel is easy--it's also dangerous and potentially illegal

September

How to Make a Lamp out of Lime
Create a superbright spotlight just like the stagehands of old: with a blowtorch and a hunk of quicklime

October

Transform Hand Warmers to Liquid Ice Sculptures
The mysterious material inside hand warmers "freezes" almost instantly

November

Burning Metal
Send steel up in flames--as long as it's in wool form

December

Plate Your 'Pod
How do you keep the back of your iPod clean? Sandpaper and electricity

2008

January

Titanium or Plain Ol' Steel?
Cut through titanium-marketing hype--take a grinder to your stuff

February

Fire Without Flame
Precious metals in your car burn up the dirty exhaust, with no flame to be seen

March

Trap Lightning in a Block
To create beautiful electrical-charge patterns like this, you could use a giant particle accelerator. But shag carpeting will also do just fine. Watch how Lichtenberg figures are made in our amazing video

And for Theodore Gray's one-of-a-kind periodic table poster, head to periodictable.com/posters