Marketplace Scratch Pad

Don’t try this at home

Scott Jagow Jul 2, 2009

There’s a British guy who set out this year to build a toaster from scratch. Think about that for a second. He started by mining for the raw materials using a hair dryer.

On his website, The Toaster Project, Thomas Thwaites describes it in more detail:

Finding ways to process the raw materials on a domestic scale is also an issue. For example, my first attempt to extract metal involved a chimney pot, some hair-dryers, a leaf blower, and a methodology from the 15th century – this is about the level of technology we can manage when we’re acting alone. I failed to get pure enough iron in this way, though if I’d tried a few more times and refined my technique and knowledge of the process I probably would’ve managed in the end. Instead I found a 2001 patent about industrial smelting of Iron ores using microwave energy.

Yes, using a microwave oven. You can watch that here:

Step 2, Attempt 2: Smelting Iron Ore in a Microwave from Thomas Thwaites on Vimeo.

Since this is an art project, it’s wide open to interpretation. I’ll let you decide what Thomas is trying to say, but this little exchange with a blogger may provide insight. Or it might just confuse the hell out of you. I was kind of feeling the latter.

Anyway, his efforts are on display at a London art show this weekend.

Hat tip, Planet Money.

And speaking of don’t try this at home, the Consumer Product Safety Commission wants you to be safe over the July 4th weekend. They hope these images of exploding mannequins will encourage you not to stick your head directly over a rocket that’s about to go off:

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