blog gray Theo Gray on why "safety" is overrated

The most awesome Theo Gray, author of the I-can’t-recommend-it-highly-enough Mad Science, has a post on Powell’s Books blog about his book and the dangers it contains (the subtitle is “Experiments You Can Do at Home — But Probably Shouldn’t”). He writes:

Is it irresponsible to write a mass-market book that describes how to do dangerous science experiments? It used to be very common. I have books from the early 1800s through the mid 1900s that would make your hair stand on end. One 1930s book from none other than the Popular Science Press includes the recipe for Armstrong’s mixture, a friction-sensitive explosive notorious for blowing hands off while it’s being mixed.

But that’s ancient history now. Books of home science, and even classroom chemistry at the high school level, are filled with baking soda and vinegar science. The Dangerous Book for Boys, for example, is completely devoid of danger.

Surely recommending only perfectly safe experiments is a good thing, isn’t it?

Is Science As Important As Football?

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.


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