Holograms aren’t just for droids and dead rappers. You can make your own with a piece of transparency paper and a four-sided hologram video. Properly folded, the transparency will combine the images on a phone or tablet screen to create “a reflection that gives you the illusion of an object hovering in space, ” says Alex Cronin, a physicist at the University of Arizona.
- Time: 10 minutes
- Cost: $0.30-$1
- Difficulty: Easy
Tools and Materials
- Sheet of transparency paper
- Pencil, pen, or marker
- Smartphone or tablet
- Copy the online template onto the transparency, with a radius of 4 inches or more.
- Cut along the solid black lines, and crease along the red lines.
- Tape the two opposite sides together to make a prism.
- Open a four-sided hologram video on your smartphone or tablet. We have one of these videos below, and you can find more by searching for "hologram video" (this is a particularly fun one).
- Place the small opening of the prism in the video’s center. Look through the side.
Instructions—Without a Template
No printer for the template? No problem!
- Use a compass and pen to draw a circle with at least a 4-inch radius on the transparency paper. Cut it out with scissors.
- Mark five dots around the circle, each the radius’ distance apart, and use a ruler to draw a line connecting them.
- Cutting along the lines, discard the rounded edges and the remaining third of the circle.
- Fold the trimmed transparency in fourths to make four separate equilateral triangles. Cut off their tips about an inch from the bottom and tape the two opposite sides together to make a prism.
More Optics Hacks
A smartphone can perform other optical tricks. Harvest a focus lens from a laser pointer, and attach it to the phone’s camera with some wire. The lens will magnify images to make a DIY microscope (full instructions here). Or stick a few pieces of clear tape over the flash, and color them with blue and purple Sharpie markers. This filter blocks out most visible light and leaves only the ultraviolet spectrum, turning the phone's flashlight function into a blacklight (full instructions here).