A flux capacitor is a fictional device that was created in the award-winning trilogy of films Back to the Future. It is used to power a time travel machine called a DeLorean DMC-12. Flux capacitors are capable of breaking through space-time, which enables them to do many things such as send Marty McFly back in time when he needs it or speed up the fluxing process for flux compression engines.
Somehow the movie has a great cultural effect and evokes numerous fantastic re-creations in many art segments. People put the BTTF flux capacitor element everywhere, like, on a birthday cake:
on a T-shirt:
and even on their body! (Well, I guess there’s no more question of whether they’re true fans or not…)
Of course, electronics hobbyists wouldn’t miss the party. They MADE one by hand (at their own risk!).
(Mini 1/10 scale Flux Capacitor)
How Does a Flux Capacitor Work?
Flux Capacitor Theory
The first functional prototype of a flux capacitor was built in 1947 by Dr. Emmett Brown and his assistant, professor Albert Einstein.
According to the flux capacitor theory in this sci-fi film, it is believed to be needed for time travel to occur. In the film, it works by taking 1.21 gigawatts of electrical power from a plutonium-powered nuclear reactor and shooting it into a magnetic field which then sends it into a mercury-based core that has been activated by a laser beam from another set of electrodes at precisely 88 miles per hour. This is supposed to briefly push the DeLorean’s atoms close enough together so that time travel is possible. Besides, the three sets of incandescent lamps would flicker intensively when the beam is generated.
Delorean Time Machine
Except for the flux capacitor, the DeLorean is also equipped with time circuits, Mr. Fusion, and other elements all together to satisfy the condition of time travel.
The time circuit system reads anything with a flux field. These flux fields are all over the place in the year 2015 but are generally absent in 1955 and 1985. The time circuit system works by pressing the blue button on the console, then inputting destination coordinates into the keypad, and then the time circuits will lock onto the coordinates until the DeLorean travels through time.
(Back to the Future car dashboard)
In the past. The time circuits will read anything with a flux field, so the time circuits can be fooled by something like a flux capacitor, for example. Also, the time circuits use voice commands to operate, which means that they can be triggered by a voice activation system. These two facts together mean that Marty McFly can get away with saying “1.21 Jigowatts” rather than “1.21 gigawatts”.
In the future, there is a Mr. Fusion unit that powers the time machine. It uses household waste as fuel, which can be obtained by asking Mr. Fusion to “please provide output level”. The DeLorean time machine has an input port for household waste and an output port that throws the garbage into the time travel device in a flash of electricity.
(Marty McFly driving the DeLorean with the Flux Capacitor behind him)
Other equipment on the DeLorean Time Machine includes a Plutonium Chamber, which provides the 1.21 gigawatts of power needed to travel through time; a Digital speedometer, which monitors the car’s speed; an Electric gas gauge, which provides a readout on how much power is left in the Plutonium Chamber; an Alarm clock, which is set to 8:00 AM, the time Marty falls into the future; a Clock tower, which is used for time travel reference points—one year before the lightning strikes, one minute to midnight on the night of the lightning strikes, one year after the lightning strikes, and finally on the date of Marty’s arrival into the future; and finally, a set of Time-jump plates.
To ensure that the time machine’s size stays the same in 1955, 1985, and 2015, the fuel tank and the plutonium chamber have to be full before traveling through time. The DeLorean’s tires are also nearly indestructible, which means that they will not go flat. The DeLorean can go up to 88 miles per hour, but rubber bands are only capable of storing so much kinetic energy before they snap. So what happens when it accelerates past this speed? The car would start to tear itself apart. Well, according to an article on Modern Mechanix, DeLorean believed that the car would never get past 70 mph because that was around 6k RPM. However, its design was so efficient that it did go past 88 miles per hour. Anyway, fiction is fiction. (LOL)
(The DeLorean Car Time Travel Machine in the Film)
How to Make a Flux Capacitor (DIY Simple Model)
To make a flux capacitor at home, you will need:
* 2 paper cups (preferably red)
* A strip of aluminum foil at least 1 inch wide and 8 inches long
* Wire cutters or strong teeth
* 1 watch battery from your table lamp or TV remote control
(Movie Jack and the Bean Stalk (2010) References of the Flux Capacitor are written on the board)
- Cut the strip of aluminum foil into 1 inch by 7-inch strips, and then cut each strip in half (creating 14 foil strips measuring 1 inch by 3.5 inches)
- Take one paper cup and cut off its bottom to create a cylinder shape, and then cut the cylinder lengthwise so you have two identical semi-cylinders
- Wrap one foil strip around the outer rim of each of your half-cylinders, secure them in place using tape, and then use scissors to cut small slits around the base of each cup so that they can sit flat on a surface
- Take your second paper cup, flip it upside down so its bottom is facing upwards, and the center one of the half-cylinders so that it overhangs about an inch from either side of the cup
- Take the remaining foil strips and wrap them around the rim of your upside-down half-cylinder, covering up all but about an inch of its bottom edge
- Place a small amount of water (roughly 1/4 cup) into your base cup and place it on your table, then place the second cup on top of it so that they are resting against each other
- Find a small watch battery, verify that its poles are facing opposite directions, and then touch one of the exposed wires to one end of your foil-covered half-cylinder (the one without water)
- Touch the other wire to the other end of your foil-covered half-cylinder, and then make sure you touch the second cup’s side as well. Your flux capacitor is now active
- Use tape to securely cover any exposed wire (but make sure it does not dampen the time travel effect)
- If you’d like, you can decorate your flux capacitor with paint, use a marker to write “flux capacitor” on the side of each cup
*Please remember that time travel is a dangerous hobby and you may not return to the exact moment from which you left.