Vacuum Bazookas, Electric Rainbow Jelly and 27 Other Saturday Science Projects, Paperback

Vacuum Bazookas, Electric Rainbow Jelly and 27 Other Saturday Science Projects Paperback

5 out of 5 (1 rating)


How do you crack nuts with a piece of string? Reverse gravity? Cobble together a clock out of a coffee cup, a soda bottle, and some water?

Use a vacuum cleaner and nineteenth-century railroad technology to fashion a makeshift bazooka that can launch paper projectiles?

Create a rainbow in a block of Jello? This is a one-volume romp through a whole array of counterintuitive science experiments that require little more than common household items and a sense of curiosity.

Prepare to have your surprise sensors on overload as Neil Downie stretches math, physics, and chemistry to do what they have never done before.

This book describes twenty-nine unusual but practical experiments, detailing how they are done and the math and physics behind them.

It will delight both casual and inveterate tinkerers.

Of varying levels of complexity, the experiments are grouped in sections covering a wide field of physics and the borders of chemistry, ranging from dynamic mechanics ("Kinetic Curiosities") to electricity ("Antediluvian Electronics") and combustion ("Infernal Inventions"). The chapters are titillatingly titled, from "Twisted Sinews" and "Mole Radio" to "A Symphony of Siphons" and "Tornado Transistor." More-detailed explanations, along with simple mathematical models using high-school level math, are given in boxes accompanying each experiment.

Armchair scientists will welcome this edifying and entertaining alternative to idleness, not least for the buoyant prose, enriched by historical and literary anecdotes introducing each topic.

With this book in hand, tinkerers, whether dabblers in science or devotees, students or teachers, need never again wonder how to impress friends, the judges at the science fair, and, not least, themselves.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 272 pages, 78 line illus.
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Popular science
  • ISBN: 9780691009865



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Those of us who were fans of the old "Amateur Scientist" column of Scientific American will enjoy this collection of projects that look to be fun to build and to play with. These are all things that the author has invented or adapted for a Saturday Science Club for kids near his home in Guildford, UK. Each project begins with a little literary or sometimes historical background, then an estimate of the "Degree of difficulty" precedes a list of materials - "What you need", and directions - "What you do". The science and the math associated with each device is clearly spelled out, and there are suggestions for related investigations and references when they might be useful. My favorite segment, however, is called "The Surprising Parts", where unexpected or unusual characteristics of the projects are described. But what I want to know is: "How do I join that Science Club?"