Theo Gray on why “safety” is overrated

Science
Theo Gray on why “safety” is overrated
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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?

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at garstipsandtools.com.

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