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Have you ever wondered how it might be possible to fossilise your hamster? I can't say that it's really a problem which has kept me awake at night - but if you have been wondering about this you will probably be very interested in this book. How to Fossilise Your Hamster is the latest book to be brought out by The New Scientist and it is written by Mick O'Hare. You might be familiar with the books 'Does Anything Eat Wasps?' and 'Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?' Well this is another book in a similar vein and as it tells you on the cover it contains lots of amazing experiments for the armchair scientist.
A sample of some of the other experiments it covers are things such as how to weigh your own head, how to tell if a martini has been shaken or stirred, how to extract the iron from breakfast cereal and how to make eggs go green. I have to say that this is really the sort of book my husband loves as he seems to have a scientific, enquiring mind. But having dipped into it a few times myself I actually find it quite fascinating too!
I will admit that not everything in the book interests me - but reading through the contents there were quite a few intriguing titles which got me wanting to find out more. All of the experiments are categorised under different headings which all pertain to the different rooms in the house - for example, the living room or the garage. Some of the living room experiments have headings such as 'yo ho ho' and 'white water drinking' which certainly got me wondering...
The first one that I thought I'd have a look at was 'white water drinking as this title caught my interest. This is actually an experiment about certain alcoholic drinks and asks why anisette based drinks such as pernod and ouzo turn white when water is added. It then tellsyou what you need in order to conduct the experiment. With this one you only need drinking glasses, water and of course some ouzo or similar. Luckily we had some left over from a holiday - I'm not really sure why we bought it as neither of us really like the flavour! So what better than to use the ouzo to conduct our experiment!
We conducted our experiment which was very straightforwardly mixing the ouzo and water and then staring fascinatedly as the drink transformed from being clear to a sort of cloudy milky colour - totally fascinating to watch. Having proved that it does actually happen, it was then very interesting to read why. In this case apparently anisette based drinks have aromatic compounds called terpenes which the strength of the alcohol keeps dissolved but when you add water this negates this. I think I understood it at the time! The explanations are really quite accessible and you can pretty much understand what is being said without having a strong scientific background.
The range of experiments is very wide and varied. They are the sorts of things which you can try out practically or you can just read about them. It does seem to make the science come alive a bit and I think it's the sort of book which could help to get young children interested in science too. There is a bumble balloon experiment which asks why balloons spiral around when you let the air out. My husband really enjoyed showing this one to our two young daughters and they were thrilled watching it!
I don't think that this book will ever make me mad keen on science but it certainly is enjoyable to dip into and you do find out things which you didn't know before! Most experiments only take up between one and two pages so the do not make too heavy reading. I think overall though, this book gives the message that science is fun! I've certainly revised my opinion a bit!
So if I've provoked your interest and you think you might like to have a go at fossilising your hamster, then this book can be bought on Amazon and as a hardback has a RRP of £12.99. This gives you over 200 pages and probably about 100 experiments which is not at all bad!
It does look good, and now in paperback it's not too expensive....
jesi 05.12.2007 01:52
l wouldn't want to fossilise ANYTHING animal! l do like minor experimentation ~ never could follow a recipe to the letter
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suelr13 03.12.2007 18:26
Sounds like a good one for those people you can never think of a present for!