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'How to Fossilise your Hamster... and other amazing experiments for the armchair scientist' is written by Mick O'Hare, editor of New Scientist magazine and follows the other New Scientist books, Does Anything Eat Wasps and Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze? The book is aimed at anyone with both an interest in science and a sense of humour and contains many interesting and enlightening experiments, written in a witty and humourous way. How to Fossilise Your Hamster would make a fantastic gift or stocking filler for anyone who likes to have a go at home experiments.
The book is divided into sections of experiments with different themes, the first of these are 1, In The Living Room and 2, In The Kitchen.The first few experiments in these sections involve alcohol, which gets us off to a good start and although the author does say it is not necessary to drink the results, it is certainly more enjoyable that way. Many of these experiments explain things you will have often wondered about, such as whether champagne really does stay fizzy for longer if you place a teaspoon in the neck. I would have tried this experiment but I never have leftover champagne in my fridge!
One of the best non-alcohol related experiments in the first section is the Flower Power experiment, which is a great one to do with the kids as it's educational and easy to do. The experiment illustrates how flowers 'drink' water, by adding food colouring to the vases so you end up with pretty coloured patterns on the petals and through the stem, this teaches us a lot about plant structure and I remember doing a similar thing at school. Another great experiment for kids from the kitchen section is the Apple Fool experiment, which shows us how easy it is to trick yourself that you are eating a pear when you are really eating an apple! You can also learn how to extract the iron from your fortified breakfast cereal, which I plan to do as soon as I get around to buying a magnet...
Section 3, In The Study, contains an experiment that allows you to illustrate to your friends how your reactions are affected by talking on a mobile phone. Many of the experiments in this section contain few necessary props (and no alcohol at all!) so they are some of the easiest, though possibly the least fun.
Section 4, The Bathroom contains a fantastic experiment in which you can extract and see your own DNA, I am yet to try this but it is certainly on the top of my list. Another I am not so keen to try is the aromatic Pee experiment, in which it is possible to find out whether you can make your urine smell of asparagus!
The first experiment in section 5, The Garage, shocked my as I learned that hot water actually freezes faster than cold and another freezer related experiment explains why it is sometimes almost impossible to get the freezer door open.
Section 6, In the Garden and Further Afield, contains the experiment you have all been waiting for... Fossilising your Hamster, but if you want to know more about that you will have to buy the book!
I really enjoy reading this book as it's well written and funny, although I originally bought it for my husband but he is yet to pick it up! I do feel that the language in the book does get quite technical at times so you would need a good basic understanding of science in order to fully appreciate it. The experiments range from easy to complicated and there is definitely something to interest everyone and a lot of things you can do with your kids (mine are a bit young) that will build upon things they'll be learning at school. I would definitely recommend buying this book as a stocking filler for a teenager or a gift for someone who is interested in science. The book is aimed at adults but most of the experiments a teenager should be able to manage safely (perhaps not the ones involving booze though!).
...Availability and Price...
I bought this book from Amazon where it currently sells for £4.79, which is very reasonable. It is also available from many large high street book shops and you may even be lucky enough to find it in your local library.
I've never been much of scientist, but I have to admit that dating a physics geek has made me want to know a little more. But I don't want boring texts books - I want things I can actually see being done, and that are, more importantly, fun .
So, for my birthday, treated myself to a selection of books published by New Scientist magazine, including 'Does anything eat wasps' , 'Do polar bears get lonely' and this one, 'How to fossilise your hamster'.
While the first two are books answering various questions, this book actually contains lots of experiments , of the type that can be easily and safely performed in your own home using easily obtained ingredients. These experiments are divided up into categories depending on which room would be the best room to perform them in, and each experiment takes about a page and a half to explain, so there's nothing too heavy going . Some experiments are accompanied with easy to understand diagrams that illustrate the results or how to set things up correctly .
Experiments range from turning eggs green using the water from cooking red cabbage, measuring the speed of light using a chocolate bar and a microwave, washing your clothes with conkers, and of course fossilising your hamster (although you should make sure it's dead first!)
Over the last couple of days my daughter and myself have done a few of the experiments - such as leaving dirty coins in cola to clean them, and testing out the theories that hot water freezes faster than cold water, and that a snapped strand of spaghetti will always snap into 3 pieces .
We plan to go shopping on tuesday to get a few items needed for some of the others - we're both particularly keen to try the coke and mentos experiment, having watched it on youtube .
We've had fun with the book so far, and we plan to have much more . Some of the experiments can be a little messy (which of course will delight the youngsters but leave the oldies with plenty of cleaning to do).
I like the range of experiments, and especially like the fact that no special equipment is required . The explanation of the results of some of the experiments can be a little basic - but then this book does claim to be aimed at the 'armchair scientist' so I wasn't really expecting too much detail - and I can always supplement the information with a quick web search.
The cover price on this book is £7.99, although you can of course find it available cheaper on amazon . I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone with an interest in science who wants something uncomplicated and fun . I'd also very much recommend this to parents, as it seems a great way to encourage a child's interest in science .
Overall, a great fun book, highly recommended.
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!