Smoke Rings are COOL
June 22, 2007 9:07 AM   Subscribe

It takes something truly exceptional to be both impressive and completely useless, simultaneously : Let's face it, smoke rings are cool and sometimes mysterious. (Maybe just not 5 min. and 31 seconds worth of cool and mystererious). Amaze the kids and without lighting up! ( YouTube video) Naturally occuring vortex rings are even cooler. The inventor in the first link, (Aussie Peter Terren of the previously mentioned shows more on vortex ring launchers) and has also recently discovered both YouTube and MeFi. Keep up with his latest geekiness on his What's New page.
posted by spock (14 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Since Peter (who plays the Thief in the tesladownunder YouTube video) is a new MeFite, he may pop in for a comment or two — though probably not for a while, since it is just after midnight (Sat.) in Perth as I post this.
posted by spock at 9:08 AM on June 22, 2007

Now if they could make a machine that did that Harpo Marx trick. That would be something.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:12 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

These devices are the only weapons known to be effective against roflcopters.
posted by BeerFilter at 9:37 AM on June 22, 2007

Metafilter: It takes something truly exceptional to be both impressive and completely useless, simultaneously
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:50 AM on June 22, 2007

That took about 41 minutes longer than I expected.
posted by spock at 9:51 AM on June 22, 2007

posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:05 AM on June 22, 2007

You called? The smoke ring machine/vortex generator has done very well for me and just the and YouTube views are up to 600,000. And it only took a day and $100 to make.
I had really amazing rings in a school gym while filming for the Discovery Channel. You could walk alongside these for the whole length of the Gym and watch them hit the wall. That vid comes out in Canada in September. I would really like to see how well these come out with the pro video and lighting.
I would really like to make a trailer mounted one with a 2HP motor driving rapid fire rings. A nice Big Bertha (as long as it's not too windy)
posted by Tesladownunder at 10:36 AM on June 22, 2007

My friend Rick had a massive smoke ring generator like that. It was boss.
posted by chuckdarwin at 11:07 AM on June 22, 2007

Cool beans!
Question #1 for Tesladownunder: What are you doing up so late? ROFLcopters

Question #2: Is there a formula for the ratio of the diameter of the "barrel" to it's length to the exit hole to the membrane "pusher"?

I'd like to make a simple one from a plastic 5 gallon bucket and lid. I'd like to use a big balloon for the membrane (with a nylon eyebolt and fender washers) for the pullback handle. I'm figuring I can use a vacuum cleaner belt to hold the rubber membrane on.

Question 3: You use smoke, which could be accomplished with a beekeeper's smoker, or dry ice. Can the "smoke" be put into it from the side without effecting the aerodynamics of the pulse. (I'm also wondering about the "smoke" distribution in the chamber. Does it pool at the bottom if the barrel is horizontal? (therefore work best if it is pointed straight up?)

I'll stop now.
posted by spock at 11:19 AM on June 22, 2007

Humans aren't the only ones who enjoy them.
posted by TedW at 11:54 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

The "mega blaster" claim on the toy store site is funny.

Real smoke-ring mega blaster. And one of its creations.

I'm not easily impressed and the amount of fuel they use is ridiculous, but those huge black smoke rings were/are super impressive.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:33 PM on June 22, 2007

better image
posted by mrgrimm at 12:34 PM on June 22, 2007

Fabulous post!

I wish I knew whether those solar rings confirm something I've been wondering about for years: whether rings can be 'blown' in magnetic field lines. I suppose that they do, but we can only see them there because charged particles are emitting radiation, so I'm still not sure whether propagating rings can exist in magnetic field lines in otherwise empty space.

J. A. Wheeler, Feynmann's mentor and preeminent theorist of black holes and gravitation, asked himself if there could be particles composed entirely of photons. As I understand it, his answer was yes, and that they must be toroidal. He called them "geons."

Now, since we know space itself has rubber-sheet geometry, rather like bubble geometry, could we have ring shaped bubbles of space moving through space like vortex rings of air moving through air? With masses involved, like teeny black holes, say (too bad they're supposed to evaporate so fast), I'm morally certain you could, and if aether existed it would be guaranteed, mass or not. But our current model of space does have some aether-like qualities....

Also, if we have ball lightning, why can't we have ring lightning?

I recently saw some drawings depicting eagles soaring on thermals, and the thermals were shown as rings, which made immediate sense to me.

Those ring bubbles are fantastic! There is so much force from surface tension which would tend to collapse them to spheres-- how do they persist?
posted by jamjam at 1:26 PM on June 22, 2007

What am I doing up late? Waiting for a post on MeFi of course.
Re exit hole size. 50% seems to work well but it is not at all critical. 80% or even 100% still give rings.
These work from something as simple as a 1 liter plastic drink bottle unmodified - just fill with smoke and tap the plastic. Bigger the better. As in life, size is everything.
You will really get the best results from a smoke generator. Try one out. Ring a party hire place, but they are cheap to buy. (AUD$89 here) The fog fluid is cheap (AUD$10/liter)
Since I have the whole smoke generator inside the drum the smoke is ejected spinning around the inside circumference and this keeps it in well until you fire. They will be far better than beekeepers smoke or dry ice.
One time I would like to try liquid nitrogen. This would be the preferred weapons of Batman's nemesis, Mr Freeze. It would be cool (pun intended) to feel an icy cold blast from a smoke ring at -196C.
posted by Tesladownunder at 6:34 PM on June 22, 2007

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