Man Creates A ‘Death Ray’ Strapped To His Car, Gives Neighbors Cause For Concern

Dogs barking. Loud parties. Naked sunbathing in the backyard. You just can’t win with some neighbors, but at least these minor annoyances wouldn’t cause you to fear for your life. When one man got the idea to strap a giant “Death Ray” to his car and began firing it around his neighborhood, you can bet noise complaints were the last thing on his neighbors’ minds.

What kind of person would be crazy enough to build such a dangerous device? None other than Kevin Kohler, YouTube’s own “Backyard Scientist.” Kevin’s reputation for wild experiments was known far and wide, yet with this latest effort, the amateur scientist was really looking to push the boundaries.

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

He started by reaching out to the aerospace company Northrop Grumman in search of a high-quality laser. Unfortunately, the representative on the phone told him the model he was looking for was only available to the military or U.S. government.

Maj. Terez Little / Defence Blog

And so, Kevin had to get creative. Reaching out to a contact in China, he dropped a cool $1,500 on a state-of-the-art laser, though the item that arrived didn’t exactly look like the centerpiece of a so-called “Death Ray.”

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

Despite producing 200 watts of power, the laser fiber was only 100 micrometers in diameter. To put that into perspective, that’s about the size of the average human hair. Yet don’t let that fact fool you.

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

The beam produced by this laser was both incredibly powerful and invisible — in Kevin’s words, it could literally burn out your retinas without you even realizing. Of course, who wouldn’t want to see that in action?

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

Well, maybe not the retina-burning part, but Kevin was quick to build a makeshift laser system to test its power for himself. Placing a block of wood just a foot or two from the laser, Kevin threw on his protective glasses and fired.

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

In just a matter of seconds, the laser burned a hole a half-centimeter deep into the wood! Naturally, Kevin was eager to see what else he could burn with his newest “toy.”

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

A rock became his next victim, and, just like with the wood, the laser burned through it like scissors through paper. But if this tiny laser could do so much damage to rock and wood, imagine what it could do to metal.

Well, Kevin didn’t have to imagine it, as he then used the beam to melt a zinc penny and superheat a copper one until it was red hot. Yet zapping a few household items was a waste of the laser’s potential — Kevin knew he needed to think bigger.

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

That’s why he decided to convert an old RV satellite mount and remote control into a fully functioning laser aim. This, however, was nothing compared to what Kevin did to the laser itself.

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

Using a variety of telescopic reflectors, voltage converters, and other technical doodads, Kevin created a laser enclosure to focus and strengthen the beam — now, the real fun would begin.

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Kevin decided his first target would be “the corona” — a bottle of Corona beer, to be exact. With just a quick blast from the laser, the bottle was blown to smithereens!

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

Next up was a “laser sandwich,” which was just a piece of ham and a slice of marble rye stapled to some plywood. The bread got a quick, precise toast from the laser, though, unexpectedly, the ham was so translucent that the beam instead burnt the wood behind it.

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

Even the Queen of England herself stopped by for a quick haircut courtesy of Kevin’s laser. Unfortunately, it looks like he took a little too much off the top for ‘ol Liz’s liking. (Brits, you may want to look away now).

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

Kevin finished off his test by blasting a lighter, which turned into a literal flamethrower as the lighter fluid within ignited. The experiment had proven a fun one, yet what’s cooler than firing a laser during the day?

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

Why, firing one at night! Mounting the laser to his car, Kevin and his team headed out to an open field with one mission in mind: shooting the beam into space!

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

Fortunately, there were no airplanes in the area for miles, making this the perfect time to fire. With an infrared camera at the ready in order to make the beam visible, Kevin primed the laser and fired.

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

Boom! The laser was massive and as bright as could be. But before the beam could ignite the nearby tries, Kevin tilted it up into the night sky.

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

The beam seemed to go on forever, stretching miles into the air like a gigantic spotlight. Kevin pointed it at everything from stars to distant planets — even the moon got a taste of the powerful laser.

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

In the end, Kevin was really just out to show how lasers work and prove how cool they could be. Sure, building a homemade “Death Ray” was a pretty dangerous stunt, though it was nothing compared to the antics of another well-known daredevil.

TheBackyardScientist / YouTube

California resident “Mad” Mike Hughes always loved pushing the envelope when it came to public stunts. The 61-year-old made his living as a limo driver, but it was his passion for death-defying acrobatics that truly made him feel alive.

Mike loved the wild lives stuntmen like Evel Knievel led. He wanted to do something that would capture the world’s attention just like Knievel, so he came up with quite the epic plan.

He wanted to build a rocket ship and ride it into space! Set on the idea, he started a fundraising campaign so he’d have enough money for everything required to make an actual working rocket. However, his first campaign run only garnered a little over $300.

But pretty soon more and more people learned about his seemingly-impossible endeavor, and donations started pouring in. Especially from celebrities who wanted to take part in this crazy goal.

Mike raked in nearly $8,000 once his idea gained traction. He finally had the money needed to build a (hopefully) working rocket, but his quest for greatness didn’t come without speed bumps.

Although Mike claimed the Bureau of Land Management gave him verbal permission to perform his rocket launch — so long as the Federal Aviation Administration agreed — the BLM said no such conversation took place.

So, Mike moved the whole operation to a privately owned area of the Mojave desert where law enforcement couldn’t put a halt to anything. All this planning begged the question: why exactly was Mike doing this to begin with?

Mike belonged to a small group of people who call themselves “Flat-Earthers.” He figured if he could get into space he’d be able to prove the Earth was, in fact, a flat disc.

Sounds pretty odd right? Well, Flat-Earth theorists like Mike believe the Arctic Circle is the center point of the massive planetary disc we all live on. Surrounding the edges of the disc is a 150-foot ice wall that keeps the waters in place.

“What about gravity?” you’re probably thinking. Well, these free thinkers are sure gravity is all an elaborate illusion. According to them, this Earth-disc we live on accelerates upwards at 32 feet per second, which keeps us all grounded.

With a launch plan in place and some funds raised, the “self-taught” rocket scientist built a vehicle that, surprisingly, looked like it had the moxie to actually reach some pretty serious heights.

For Mike, there was a lot riding on this launch. A successful trip would, in his eyes, lend credibility to something he passionately believed in. Finally, launch day arrived.

The 61-year-old man loaded himself into his homemade rocket and prepared for the launch that would hopefully see his safe return home. The countdown began.

With all the Flat-Earthers cheering him on, “Mad” Mike launched his homemade rocket off his mobile trailer bed on March 25, 2018. Incredibly, the thing took off in a screaming stream of smoke!

Mike originally planned on reaching a speed of 500 miles per hour, enough speed to launch him into space. However, the ship only reaches 350 miles per hour, and the parachute deployed at an altitude of 1,875 feet.

Sadly, Mike’s mission to space failed. A crew of paramedics met Mike at the scene where the rocket landed back to Earth. They carefully helped him out, making sure his fragile body wasn’t battered and bruised.

Even though Mike claimed all he felt was some minor back pain, he was taken to a hospital to make sure nothing serious took place while he was airborne. Sure, he never made it the full distance, but he certainly made his mark on the world of stunts.

He made such a mark that he caught the attention of Daniel Tosh. The comedian hosted Mike on an episode of his show, Tosh.0, to discuss his failed mission to space and his flat-Earth beliefs. The two also joked about his daring ambition to one day try again.

While Mike never ended up being the rocket man he envisioned, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Luckily his endeavor didn’t seriously injure him, and he could exist as a hero to dedicated Flat-Earthers everywhere until he died in February 2020 after another failed launch.


As wild as Mike’s goal was, other ambitious thrill seekers have tried their hands at doing the impossible. David Hahn, like Mike, decided to do a little home experiment of his own, and it ended up becoming quite the ordeal.

Michigan’s David Hahn might have seemed like an average kid, but in fact, his mind was unlike most of his peers’. He was obsessed with scientific experimentation and it would eventually lead to some very dangerous situations.

David’s passion came about when he was 10 years old and his grandfather gifted him a chemistry book. David was enthralled by its contents and he began dabbling with experimentation himself.

David wanted his experiments to be the real thing, not the kind of simple stuff he did during his grade school science classes. So, he bought beakers, bunsen burners, test tubes, and a plethora of other professional lab equipment. He was determined to teach himself the ins and outs of chemical reactions regardless of the potential hazards.

David was also heavily involved with the Boy Scouts, and he would frequently share his dangerous experiments with his fellow troopers. He actually blew a hole in his tent while camping one night using a personal stockpile of magnesium. David’s experiments were getting dangerous, but nothing prepared his family and his town for what would eventually occur…

You’d think most parents by this time would have taken away their child’s lab equipment after learning they were mishandling hazardous chemicals, but not David’s parents. To them, the small explosions and chemical spills were simply the results of a curious mind. However, they couldn’t have been more wrong.

David’s parents did force him to move his lab setup to their basement. They thought the move would hinder David’s enthusiasm, it did just the opposite; now their son had more room and privacy to conduct his dangerous experiments.

It didn’t take long before David caused an explosion using red phosphorous in the basement. David’s parents must have put a firm stop to his activities at this point, right? Nope. David simply moved his lab into a shed behind his house. Now he had the space to cause some serious problems…

David was fascinated by radioactivity, and now that he had an entire shed to himself, he planned to build something that would eventually send his entire town into a panic…

He wanted to build his own nuclear reactor! Now, this might sound completely insane (and it was) but to David, it was completely doable. All he needed was a way to obtain the radioactive materials to start his new project.

In 1994, when David was only 17, he posed as an adult scientist and began writing letters and making phone calls to places like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the American Nuclear Society inquiring about the materials he would need for his reactor. Unbelievably, no one ever asked about his credentials and David was able to learn exactly how to obtain and isolate radioactive isotopes. With that information, he could begin building his reactor.

David dismantled smoke detectors to obtain the chemical americium; he also obtained radium through antique luminous clocks and thorium from gas lanterns. He even spent $1,000 on lithium batteries to obtain that particular chemical, as well. He was quickly gathering everything he needed for his reactor. But, would it actually end up working?

Using all of the chemicals he obtained from basic household items, he was able to build a makeshift reactor core. Unbeknownst to everyone in his neighborhood, including his parents, there was a highly dangerous nuclear reactor sitting in his backyard shed. However, it wouldn’t be too long until the entire community knew about it…

Because David had zero experience working with nuclear energy, the level of radiation emitted by his reactor rose to dangerous levels. Using a Geiger counter, David was soon able to detect high levels of radiation five houses away from his shed. Luckily, he recognized his experiment was completely out of control and decided to shut the whole thing down. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be that easy.

David dismantled his reactor late one night and began loading it into the trunk of his car. He was trying to be as discreet as possible, but he was spotted by neighbors who called the cops, thinking he was stealing tires. When the police arrived, however, it wasn’t tires they found, but something much more terrifying.

The police initially thought David had an atomic bomb in his trunk! The bomb squad was called in, and to everyone’s relief, they were wrong. However, the team measured 1,000 times the amount of radiation that was considered safe! This triggered the Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan. Then… all hell broke loose!

Because the shed wasn’t a federally recognized nuclear site, it took the Environmental Protection Agency nearly two months to begin their investigation. Eventually, when workers did examine its contents, they were stunned at what they found…

According to a memo written by the EPA, the chemicals in David’s lab presented an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health, welfare, and environment. There was also dangerous exposure to the nearby human population, animals, and the food chain. Needless to say, the people who lived in David’s community were not only outraged, they were now worried about their own health.

According to the EPA’s official assessment, David’s experiment with the nuclear reactor exposed 40,000 people to dangerous cancer-causing levels of radiation and cost $60,000 to clean up! This chaotic ordeal was how David earned the nickname “Radioactive Boy Scout.”

In 1995, one year after David’s nuclear reactor debacle sent shock waves through his town, the EPA offered to give David a full examination to see how much radiation he was exposed to, but David refused, fearful of what he might learn. David struggled in life as time went on. He joined the army where he served for several years but battled drug and alcohol addiction.

It takes a devoted and unique mindset to build a rocket, hop inside, and attempt to break through Earth’s atmosphere. Even though “Mad” Mike Hughes wasn’t able to get definitive proof the Earth was flat, he still holds that belief firm.

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