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Theo Gray's Mad Science: Experiments…

Theo Gray's Mad Science: Experiments You Can Do At Home - But…

by Theodore W. Gray

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My son gave me this book as a Christmas present in 2009, with the expectation that I would make it one of my Picks. The sentiment was amply appreciated, but I did not make it a Pick then because I didn't want to feel responsible for the maimings and deaths that could result from trying many of the "experiments" described. The author does have some warnings and precautions for the feckless yet fearless, but many of the procedures should not be attempted by the inexpert. None of them are real experiments, in that there are no variables to systematically vary, and no lessons to be learned. The spirit is much the same as the "Mythbusters" television series, whose stars wrote blurbs for the book. Some procedures are thankfully limited in their potential for harm by the fact that ordinary citizens can't easily obtain the requisite materials, such as potassium perchlorate, (thirty pounds of) mercury, a glassmaker's furnace, white phosphorus, 30% hydrogen peroxide, or a particle accelerator. Citizens can buy plenty of stuff that can get them into trouble, though, such as concentrated hydrochloric acid, and magnesium and aluminum powder, cylinders of compressed hydrogen and oxygen, regulators, and an H2-O2 torch. Like Gray's "The Elements" book, "Mad Science" has sumtuous photographs, making it even more seductive. A new paperback edition just came out, at about five bucks less than the cloth version that Matt gave me. Caveat emptor. ( )
  hcubic | Jul 27, 2014 |
Theo Gray's Mad Science is a brilliant book filled with fun experiments, some of which can be safely repeated at home by anyone able to follow instructions. Some require a bit more experience, and some of them should only be done by trained chemists in a lab (or a bunker, or in the middle of a large field).

I really liked reading about all the experiments, it's obvious that Theo enjoys doing them.
( )
  khrister | Mar 31, 2011 |
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I suppose it could be argued that giving your kid Mad Science to read might nudge you into the Bad Dad category. But despite the warnings – and the fact that many of the how-tos are not detailed enough to follow at home – many of Gray’s projects can be done safely with younguns around. Gray actually enlists the help of his children Addie, Connor and Emma in several experiments. I’ve even done a version of Gray’s “making hydrogen” experiment with my kids — and I have no chemistry expertise whatsoever.
The attention to detail will delight "makers" and nerd readers of all ages. I love the little skull and crossbones death-icons on pages where experiments could lead to loss of life.
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In the spirit of Discovery Channel's "MythBusters" and "Smash Lab, Popular Science" columnist Gray demonstrates fundamental scientific principles through wacky, daredevil experiments.

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