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Gripped by the barn-raising scenes of destruction, you find yourself wanting to deconstruct the terror. Throw out those tired post-structuralist tools and get down and dirty with a good old fashioned, rationalist science experiment.

Funnel clouds are vortexes and as cats that perch on the edge of toilet seats know, vortexes can be mesmerizing. So here's how to build a contraption to study the shape of a tornado, the natural phenomenon that lifts and separates.


    You'll need:

  • two 2-liter clear plastic soda bottles (remove labels and plastic rings around neck)
  • water
  • flat, metal washer; same size as the mouth of the bottle
  • duct tape
  • adult helper


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1. Of the two bottles one should be empty, the other half full. Water is the liquid of choice but those with a lot of time on their hands should feel free to experiment with other liquids.

2. Make sure both bottle mouths are dry. Place the washer over the mouth of the designated water bottle.

3. Place empty bottle, upside down on top of the washer.

4. Secure the bottles together with tape.

5. Ask adult helper to defrost your refrigerator.

6. Turn the contraption upside down so that gravity can do its thing with the water.

7. Quick! While holding the bottom of the top bottle with one hand and holding the bottom bottle firmly, move the top of the upper bottle in a small but rapid counter-clockwise circle.

8. Stand the bottles upright, with the empty bottle remaining on the bottom.

9. Gaze into the upper bottle where the water swirls in a funnel shape as it pours into the bottle below. Deal with that existential crisis you've been putting off. Cry on the shoulder of adult helper repeating the phrase "what's the point".

10. Once you're over that, repeat. repeat. repeat. Imagine people running and screaming as debris slices them in half. Gloat. You are god, this is YOUR LITTLE EXPERIMENT. </end>

illustrations by Georgia.


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