Use a simple trick to convince people that you're Magneto

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A Van de Graff generator and some pie pans are all it takes to convince people that you can make metal bend to your will. Or that you're being haunted by a poltergeist. Judge the gullibility of your guests and use the best approach.

Here's a fun way to scare people into obeying your will - and timely, since the newest Wolverine movie is finally on the horizon. Try to convince your guests that you are a mutant and that you can control metal. It shouldn't be too hard. You'll need to sit on an insulating wooden chair, and you'll need to put one hand on a concealed Van de Graaff generator.

A Van de Graaff generator is one of those things that looks like a giant metal ball on a pole, and for the most part, it is that. The pole conceals a rotating belt. And the bottom of its rotation, the belt passes by a metal comb that, via an outside electrical supply, is kept positively charged. Electrons leap from that belt to the positively charged comb. That leaves the belt, as it travels onward, with a minor positive charge.


A second comb at the top of the pole is attached to the metal sphere. As the comb rakes by the belt, any electrons on the sphere leap down onto the belt. The belt is back to neutral (until it gets to the bottom of its rotation again), while the metal sphere loses its electrons and becomes positive. Any conductor touching that belt also loses its electrons - including you.

Your body is a relatively good conductor, so if you put a stack of pie pans on your head - as the man in the video does - or on your hand - as you should do if you don't want to look silly - it's nearly as good as the pans sitting right on top of the generator. The pie pans all acquire a positive charge. Because they are all stacked up, and because they each can move, they fly away from each other, seeming to leap one by one out of your hand.


Hopefully your guests will be too cowed to ask you to use your power to pick the pans back up again.

Via University of Illinois and Hyperphysics.