Yes, really, you can control a flamethrower just by concentrating. Or at least Matt Oehrlein can, reports Jesse Hicks for The Verge:
“Wouldn’t it be really cool to have a mind-controlled flamethrower?” ponders Matt Oehrlein. He’s perched on a solid wooden desk, dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, his sneakers crossed at the ankle and swinging in the air. He’s thin and tall, sporting thick-rimmed black glasses and a shock of bushy brown hair. Around him rises what to an outsider looks like functional chaos: a warehouse-like, fluorescent-lit workshop where a traffic light hangs from the ceiling, a forklift idles nearby, and the shrill grind of a table saw cuts through the air.
Naturally, he already does have a mind-controlled flamethrower. It’s a precarious-looking wooden frame about 3 feet tall, topped by a pair of propane tanks. After some required assembly, Oehrlein dons a Bluetooth-enabled headset, steps on a safety switch, and begins to concentrate. Soon enough, satisfyingly whooshing balls of flame illuminate the street.
This is i3 Detroit, a collaborative workspace just north of the city. You can call it a hacker space or a maker space, but fundamentally it’s a community — one made up of people who want to build and learn, using everything from lathes and saws to solder and solenoids to screen printing tools and laser cutters. It’s a nonprofit funded largely through membership dues, with members teaching one another tips and techniques. There’s a lot of teamwork, too, of the sort that produced the mind-controlled flamethrower…
[continues at The Verge]