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The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science: The Very Best Backyard Science Experiments You Can Do Yourself

Popular Science

By: Neil A Downie (Author)

576 pages, 28 b/w photos, 133 b/w illustrations

Princeton University Press

Paperback | May 2012 | #205577 | ISBN-13: 9780691149660
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £19.95 $25/€24 approx

About this book

The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science is Neil Downie's biggest and most astounding compendium yet of science experiments you can do in your own kitchen or backyard using common household items. It may be the only book that encourages hands-on science learning through the use of high-velocity, air-driven carrots.

Downie, the undisputed maestro of Saturday science, here reveals important principles in physics, engineering, and chemistry through such marvels as the Helevator – a contraption that's half helicopter, half elevator – and the Rocket Railroad, which pumps propellant up from its own track. The Riddle of the Sands demonstrates why some granular materials form steep cones when poured while others collapse in an avalanche. The Sunbeam Exploder creates a combustible delivery system out of sunlight, while the Red Hot Memory experiment shows you how to store data as heat. Want to learn to tell time using a knife and some butter? There's a whole section devoted to exotic clocks and oscillators that teaches you how.

The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science features more than seventy fun and astonishing experiments that range in difficulty from simple to more challenging. All of them are original, and all are guaranteed to work. Downie provides instructions for each one and explains the underlying science, and also presents experimental variations that readers will want to try.

"In his book, physicist Neil Downie provides a series of do-it-yourself science experiments that stand apart from your ho-hum Mr. Wizard-fare because, well, they involve a few high-speed projectiles [...] All you need are a few household items, some good judgment and, possibly, a carrotproof vest."
– Aaron Leitko, Washington Post

"To keep the kids entertained this summer, what better than a bit of Saturday science? Neil A. Downie's compendium of experiments – 'chosen on the grounds that they are new, that they work, that they are spectacular, and that they are interesting' – includes electric gunpowder, the knife-through-butter clock, the impossible turbine and armour-piercing carrots. Each experiment is accompanied by a straightforward scientific explanation, the occasional hazard warning and 'just a little math.'"
Nature Physics

"If you either run a science club or are a teenager who likes getting your hands dirty experimentally, you are going to love this. I certainly would have in my youth."
– Popular Science blog (U.K)

"[T]his ample resource encourages readers to consider everyday occurrences and enlivens complex ideas with lessons designed to inspire curiosity [...] Recommended as a follow-up to the author's previous collections in the series, and as a valuable treasury of projects for teachers, coordinators of science clubs, parents of advanced, older homeschoolers, and adult enthusiasts who have experience in the field and are seeking enjoyable activities to practice and share with others."
– Karen Rigby, ForeWord Reviews

"Downie's instructions are admirably clear and straightforward; his explanations of the underlying science admirably comprehensive and comprehensible; and his passion and enthusiasm, totally infectious."
– Helen Mulley, Teach Secondary

"This book is guaranteed fun."
New Scientist

"[T]hose willing to put in the effort will get a real kick out of this book."
– Clarissa Ai Ling Lee, Physics World

"The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science is an absolutely fantastic book that contains one of the largest collections of fun-to-do experiments that you will ever come across in a science library [...] Downie does not just stop at the experiment – each one is backed up with the science behind it, the equipment you need and references for further reading. It truly is a wonderful book to read, and more importantly, a book to bring out the scientist in anyone."
– Paul Wolstenholme-Hogg, Education in Chemistry

"This is the most extensive collection of project ideas at this level that I know of. Downie gives better 'how to' explanations and takes the ideas further than most other books of this kind. The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science is a true omnibus."
– David Willey, University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

"The projects in this book are interesting and thought provoking, and some are quite creative and unique. Educators can use the projects to enhance their teaching, and hobbyists will also enjoy them."
– Kenneth G. Libbrecht, California Institute of Technology


Contents

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

SIMPLE BUT SUBTLE . . . SIMPLE BUT NOT ALWAYS EASY TO EXPLAIN 1

    Blunderspuds and Carrot Cannons--Artillery and Boyle's Law 3
    Mr. Bernoulli's Pop-Up Piston--More Bernoulli Weirdness 9
    The Rapid-Fire Vacuum Bazooka--Fire Projectiles or Clean the Floor 15
    Single-Blade Propellers--Venetian Gondolas 22
    Soda Mint Fountains--Thirst for Knowledge and Water Quenched at Once 29
    The Armor-Plated Sandcastle--Gas and Sand Combine 34
    The Riddle of the Sands--Weird but Beautiful Patterns Appear, All of Their Own Accord 39
    Tricks of Sideways Light--Magic Mondrians and Invisible Watches 47
    Sunbeam Exploders--Ray Guns Aren't Sci-Fi Any More 55
    The Dead-or-Alive Ball--To Bounce or Not to Bounce, Th at Is the Question 64
    Cowboy Coffee--Yee Haw! 68
    Electric Glue--The Modern Glue 77
    Electric Gunpowder--Explosive Electricity! 84
    An Eiffel Brick Tower--Eat Your Heart Out, Monsieur Eiffel! 90
    Dominoids--Four-Foot Brobdingnagian Monster Dominoes Will Hit the Floor at the End of a Row of Standard Dominoes 97
    Colloons--Civil and Aeronautical Engineering Combined: Neither Column nor Balloon 104
    Motor Brushes--The Science of Vibration-Driven Vehicles Is Applied to a Humble Household Brush 112
    A Smooth-Wheel Paddle Steamer--Invisible (well, almost) Marine Propulsion 117
    A String Amplifier--The Powerful Science of Loops of String 124
    The Punkah Pendulum--Air-Conditioning and Timekeeping Combined 130
    The Maharaja's Sunshade--Air in Motion Provides Tent and Air-Conditioning Rolled into One 136

SURPRISINGLY SUBTLE . . . SURPRISES GALORE IN THIS MAVERICK COLLECTION 143

    An Electric Sundial--Tired of Running to Your Cave Entrance to Get the Time? 145
    The Kleenex Clock--Time from Tissue Paper 153
    The Torsion Time Pencil--Peeling off Atomic Layers as Time Goes by 160
    The Swell-Gel Flowstopper--Stop Water Going up Your Gas Lines 165
    The Vortex Pump--Whirling Water Magic 170
    Waxaulics--Hydraulics for Candles 175
    Telestrings--Remote-Controlled Art 182
    Squirting String--Getting String to Flow through Pipes 189
    Spider Technology--The Silken Secrets of Spiderman 194

SIMPLE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE . . . FUNDAMENTALS OF THE PHYSICAL WORLD UNCOVERED IN ELEGANTLY SIMPLE DEMONSTRATIONS 203

    The Molecule Meter--I Speak Your Molecular Weight! 205
    Talking Sparks--Send Messages at 186 Million Miles per Hour: See How Radio Pioneer Marconi First Sent Radio a Thousand Miles 211
    Light and Lens Pipes--The Strong Focusing Principle Used in the Microscopes of Fundamental Particle Physics 221
    Fire from Water--The Power of Concentration 230
    The Heliracket--Waves, Molecules, and Music 239
    The Helitower--The Momentum Principle of Rockets and Helicopters 248

CLOXOTICA-- EXOTIC CLOCKS AND OSCILLATORS: A CORNUCOPIA OF UNUSUAL CLOCKS 257

    The Paperclip Clock--A Major Leap Forward in Horological Science, the Acme of Simplicity 259
    The Micropendulum--The Prestipendulous Tick-Tock Clock 266
    The String Thing--Ballet Dancing for Pendulums 274
    Eddy the Coniclock--A Spinning Disk Powers a Conical Pendulum 280
    The Humming Clock--Recycle Unwanted Mains Hum to Run Your Clock 285
    An Hourglass Wallah--The Sands of Time Updated 292
    The Knife-through-Butter Clock--Melting Time 300
    Creepy Clocks and Time Pencils--The Slow Flow of Solids 307
    A Polymerizing Clock--Telling Time with Glue and Chemistry 316
    Delay-Line Oscillators--Pass-the-Parcel Oscillators 322
    The Fan Flap Flip-Flop Clock--A Huffi ng and Puffing Clock 328
    The Faucet Oscillator--Measuring Time with Spurts of Water 333
    The Slugulator--Not an Oscillator for the Impatient! 338
    The Sloshulator--Time from Waves 344

GEEKONICS--SIMPLER THAN YOU MIGHT EXPECT, AND NOT JUST FOR GEEKS 351

    The Telebubblegraph--Sending Bubbly Messages the Electrolytic Way 353
    The Touchy-Feely Sensor--Putting a Number to Hotfeelingness and Coldfeelingness 361
    Fire Wire--Finding Fire along a Wire 368
    Electric Bubble Memory--Minute Electric Cells Keep Your 1s and 0s Safe 375
    Red-Hot Memory--Binary Memory: 0s Are Cold and 1s Are (ouch!) Hot 381
    Deflation Detection--Ultrasonic Tire Monitoring 390

MAD, BAD, AND DANGEROUS--PROJECTS THAT HAVE HAZARDS, ALTHOUGH THEY CAN BE MINIMIZED 397

    Deep Impact--Armor-Piercing Carrots: High-Speed Vegetables 399
    The Flying Soda Bottle--A Spectacular Piece of Practical Science Using the Rapid Release of Energy from Compressed Gas 409
    Oxygen Fireworks--The Greener, Safer Ground Fireworks System 419

GREAT STUFF--BIGGER PROJECTS THAT NEED SPACE AND LARGER PARTS 431

    The Helevator--The Elevator of Oz: Is It a Helicopter or an Elevator? 433
    An Airbag Oscillator--Your Body Forms Part of This Ride-On Brobdingnagian Oscillator 441
    A Bubble-Tube Oscillator--Trains of Bubbles Chase Each Other Upward 449
    The Preposterously Big Party Blowout--The Holiday Party Favorite Scaled up to Span Football Fields 457
    Pink-Noise Pipes--Make Music from Noise! 463
    Turbo Panjandrums--The Auto-Unicycle 469
    The Impossible Turbine--The Backward-Forward-Always-Clockwise Turbine 477
    A Rocket Railroad--Th is Rocket Pumps Propellant from the Track as It Goes Along 483
    The Hovertrain--A Railroad without Rails 489
    A Jet-Wash Rocket--The Superclean Rocket 496
    The Single-Helix Pump--You Don't Need a Double Helix to Squirt Water at Surprising Pressure 503
    Leonardo's Bridge--No Nails or Screws or String: It's Just a Subtle Stack of Sticks 509
    Your Personal Hovercraft--You Have a Personal Computer, Why Not Ride Around on Your Personal Hovercraft? 517

Tips and Tricks 527

Old-Fashioned Units 531

Bibliography 533

Index


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Biography

Neil A. Downie is a lead scientist with Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., and visiting professor of multidisciplinary engineering at the University of Surrey. His books include Vacuum Bazookas, Electric Rainbow Jelly, and 27 Other Saturday Science Projects (Princeton).

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