My book “Snowball Launchers, Giant Pumpkin Growers and other COOL CONTRAPTIONS” has a project on making my Sidewinder Thingamajig. What does the gizmo do? Well, briefly it detects shortwave infrared waves! Shortwave infrared waves are used by most remote control units (also referred to as “thingies”) One purpose of the Sidewinder Thingamajig is to check if the remote control is working. If it is and it is pointed at the thingamajig, a red LED will light. Why is it called Sidewinder Thingamajig? Well, the Sidewinder Rattler detects its prey by sensing the infrared radiation all warm blooded animals give off. One caveat in my projects name: the Sidewinder Rattler is more sensitive to long wave infrared radiation and not as sensitive to shorter wavelength, which is the type the Sidewinder Thingamajig is most sensitive to. Another device is also called a Sidewinder–it is the Sidewinder missile which is used to tract down and destroy jet airplanes. Jet engines produces lots of heat which produces lots of infrared radiation. The Sidewinder missile enters the exhaust pipe of the engine and blows the engine up. Flares are used as a defense measure to confuse the missile’s electronic systems. By the way, the Sidewinder Thingamajig might just make a great starting point for a Science Fair project!