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

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

New Scientist - Douglas Palmer
This is great interactive stuff, amusingly written by a British scientist who honed his skills conducting a Saturday activity center for kids. . . . As well as the fun there is science too, equations and all.
From the Publisher

"This is great interactive stuff, amusingly written by a British scientist who honed his skills conducting a Saturday activity center for kids. . . . As well as the fun there is science too, equations and all."--Douglas Palmer, New Scientist

"A fertile and funny idea-book for the Erector set crowd."--Booklist

"A fascinating new book. . . . The style is eclectic and interesting. . . . It brings together practical, accessible physics with a gentle amount of theory in an entertaining and educational manner. There is much here that will both stimulate a curiosity about physics and help with good--if not inspirational--physics teaching."--Physics World

New Scientist
This is great interactive stuff, amusingly written by a British scientist who honed his skills conducting a Saturday activity center for kids. . . . As well as the fun there is science too, equations and all.
— Douglas Palmer
Booklist
A fertile and funny idea-book for the Erector set crowd.
Physics World
A fascinating new book. . . . The style is eclectic and interesting. . . . It brings together practical, accessible physics with a gentle amount of theory in an entertaining and educational manner. There is much here that will both stimulate a curiosity about physics and help with good—if not inspirational—physics teaching.
Tracy Picha
If building a duohelicon or vibrocraft is your idea of something that can be accomplished in a Saturday, this is a grand title to introduce to a younger scientist who wants to follow in your footsteps.
National Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691009865
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 9/24/2001
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 7.63 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil A. Downie has worked on a variety of engineering projects for the British Ministry of Defence and private industries in the UK. He is currently a scientist with Air Products and Chemicals at their labs in Basingstoke near London.
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Table of Contents


Contents in Detail vii
Project Ratings xi
Preface xiii
KINETIC CURIOSITIES
1. Hovering Rings 3
2. Dynabrolly 14
3. Gravity Reversal 21
4. Maypole Drill 28
5. Rotarope 33
STRONG STRING THINGS
6. String Nutcracker 45
7. Twisted Sinews 51
STRONG NOTHING
8. Vacuum Muscles 61
9. Vacuum Bazooka 70
SOUNDS PECULIAR
10. String Radio 83
11. Mole Radio 93
12. Bat Doppler 102
TRANSMISSIONS WITH OMISSIONS
13. Toothless Gearwheels 113
14. Flying Pulleys 121
CLOCKS WITHOUT CUCKOOS OR QUARTZ
15. The Crank and the Pendulum 127
16. A Symphony of Siphons 134
17. Bernoulli's Clock 142
CURIOUS CONVEYANCES
18. Dougall or U'brocraft 151
19. Follow That Sunbeam 157
20 Duohelicon 167
21. Fishy Boat 174
22. Rotarudder 182
23. Cable Yacht 190
ANTEDILUVIAN ELECTRONICS
24. Beard Amplifier 199
25. Tornado Transistor 207
ELECTRIC WATER
26. Meltdown Alarm 215
27. Electric Rainbow jelly 222
INFERNAL INVENTIONS
28. Binary Match 229
29. Ultimate Bunsen Burner 234
Useful Materials and Components 241
A Reminder about Units 245
Bibliography 247
Index 251
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