Sunday, May 26, 2019

Magical Experiments

Magical Experiments is an unabridged reformatting and republication of a science manual for young people from 1894. Originally published as Magical Experiments, or Science in Play, this edition due out 12th June 2019 from Dover is 336 pages and will be available in paperback format.

For anyone who has read through the Dover catalogue (all of us at one point or another) and thought "Wow, there's an audience for obscure 14th century Danish textile arts!?" (some of us at one point or another) and marveled that Dover is out there guarding and shepherding this great ship of ephemera, history, vitally important information, and weirdness... Here's another good one.

Author Arthur Good was a French engineer, DIY guru, and layman scientist who wrote a weekly column syndicated for publication and was, apparently, something of a 19th Century Bill Nye, the Science Guy. This book is a collection of some of those posts and will teach the reader how to pierce a coin with a needle, balance eggs on the neck of a bottle, spin a plate balanced on a needle, and lots more tricks guaranteed to have parents everywhere covering their eyes (and probably yelling 'What WERE you thinking?!').

For me, probably the best part of the entire book is the engraved illustrations which accompany each experiment. They're sort of surreal compositions with knives and forks balanced from corks in gravity defying positions.

Really cool and fun experiments. Many of these are almost in the nature of 'bar tricks'. The science of -why- they work isn't really explained; for all I know physicists and chemists of the day might have been somewhat hazy on the theoretical basis of why.

Five stars. Worthwhile. Five perennial stars for Dover, long may they reign.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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