Stephen Voltz and Fritz Grobe were a soggy, grinning mess. Wearing lab coats, safety goggles and clip-on ties, they stood in a downpour before thousands of cheering fans. It wasn't rain that drenched them but 55 gallons of Diet Coke.
For years, science geeks have known what happens when you drop a Mentos mint into a Diet Coke bottle. Tiny craters on the mint attract carbon dioxide, creating tremendous pressure. (Diet Coke contains more CO2 than most sodas.) Voltz, 51, a former trial attorney, and Grobe, 40, a professional juggler, decided to see how far they could push the phenomenon. In 2006 they created Internet videos choreographing hundreds of what they call "mint-powered Bellagio fountains."
Their Web site, EepyBird.com, now draws 3 million hits a month. It features further experiments with cascading sticky notes, as well as ads and sponsorship from corporate giants such as OfficeMax and - naturally - Coca-Cola. The pair won't say how much they're making, but they manage to support themselves, pay two part-timers and take time out to refine their spectacle at every Maker Faire.
"We're not rich yet," Grobe says. "But we are able to keep doing this, and we are looking to expand our creative team in 2009."
NEXT: Zapping TVs - and brains