Saturday Science Books

“Science, freedom, beauty adventure: what more could you ask of life… …there was science in every curve of an airfoil, in each angle between strut and wire, in the gap of a spark plug or the colour of the exhaust flame” Charles A. Lindbergh, in Spirit of St Louis.

If you like the projects on this website, you might like to know about the many other Saturday Science projects and experiments in books. They are fully written up – with scientific analysis, suggestions for further developments, and even a little science history…

From Princeton University Press, widely available:

The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science: the very best backyard science experiments you can do yourself

Vacuum Bazookas, Electric Rainbow Jelly and 27 Other Saturday Science Projects

Also available from Amazon and Abebooks etc:

Exploding Disk Cannons, Slimemobiles and 32 Other Projects for Saturday Science

Ink Sandwiches, Electric Worms and 37 Other Experiments for Saturday Science

Look further down for the contents pages of all the books.

Free E-book: Exploding Disk Cannons

Free Ebook : You can have a free copy of Exploding Disk Cannons ! Below in blue is a link to the ebook version of Exploding Disk Cannons. 295 pages of projects and things from me and countless students you won’t find in text-books or (anywhere else) on the Web. (BTW I have a few hardback copies of the book, and these and paperback edition of 2006 is still widely available.)

Please Copy and Link to itself ! We cordially invite you to add a link to on your website. If you prefer to simply copy parts, either in print or on-line, please feel free to do so, but do include an acknowledgement, if only to allow your readers to access more material.

Copying from Exploding Disk Cannons and Ink Sandwiches. The copyright for these latter two books, Exploding Disks, and Ink Sandwiches, belongs to, and you are welcome to copy anything in them, provided you acknowledge, if only to allow your readers to access more material.

Contents of Saturday Science books

The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science

Vacuum Bazookas, Electric Rainbow Jelly and 27 Other Saturday Science Projects

Exploding Disk Cannons, Slimemobiles and 32 Other Projects for Saturday Science

Ink Sandwiches, Electric Worms and 37 Other Experiments for Saturday Science

A Short SATURDAY SCIENCE Bibliography

Firstly, there are some great things in magazines, both on and offline. There is the wonderful Physics World, of course, and the broader appealing, more newspaper-level New Scientist. Don’t forget the short but excellent accounts written for businessmen in The Economist. And of course, don’t miss the STEM projects articles I have written with the guys at the IET for the Engineering & Technology magazine, contents are on the home page blog on this website :


Wikipedia, is a fountain of knowledge – and one that you can contribute to, if you like. It really is good on anything that is not too controversial. The patent website espacenet is an open publication of tens of millions of inventions – what’s not to like ? The legal language is a little tough sometimes, but there really is gold there.

These are a few of the great books we have enjoyed… more coming soon

  • Jearl Walker, The Flying Circus of Physics, the surprising physics behind a hundred plus natural phenomena from sun-dogs to rainbows
  • Keith Gibbs The resourceful physics teacher, lots of surprising demonstrations !
  • Neil A Downie, Industrial Gases, The technology behind the industry that delivers everything from Helium to Xenon via Nitrogen, Oxygen and Argon and engineering at -200 degrees C
  • Anson Cheung and Mark Warner A Cavendish Quantum Mechanics Primer, great readable introduction, with lots of great but readable math analysis.
  • Charles A Lindbergh, The Spirit of St Louis. A great read, the story of Lindbergh’s epic flight across the Atlantic Ocean, and some of philosophy. A great read with lots of interesting and unusual science from isogonic lines to earth inductor compasses.
  • Walter J. Moore, Physical Chemistry, tucked away in this old standard textbook are lots of fascinating phenomena you won’t have heard of.
  • Horowitz and Hill, The Art of Electronics, the best book ever written on electronics.
  • Edward de Bono, Six Thinking Hats is maybe the place to start on creative thinking. There are short summaries of Six Hats. Lateral Thinking, Creativity Step by Step is the old original from de Bono
  • Simon Singh, The Code Book… all about secret codes – from simple substitutions to coding machines like the famous ‘Enigma’. Fascinating.
  • Philip Steadman, Vermeer’s Camera a scientific detective story
  • Steven Vogel, Cat’s Paws and Catapults, about the physics and engineering inside the world of nature.
  • Mark Denny, Air and Water, more on physics and nature
  • G B S Haldane, On Being the Right Size a nice essay on the importance of scaling and other potent ideas from an Old Master of science
  • Adam Hart-Davis and Paul Bader, Local Heroes one of several very readable books by Hart-Davis looking at the history of science and invention
  • James Burke, Connections, from Burke’s Scientific American column, detailing all the astonishingly connections between science and technology development
  • Douglas Botting, Dr Eckener’s Dream Machine, the amazing saga of round-the-world flight in huge airships, in the days before long-distance airplanes
  • David E H Jones, The Inventions of Daedalus, a Compendium of Plausible Schemes. Classic articles of imaginary inventions from the pages of antediluvian issues of New Scientist magazine.
  • Dava Sobel, Longitude, a classic account of almost single-handed heroic struggle to create super accurate mechanical clocks. These were needed allow accurate navigation across the oceans, and avoid the once common and desperately sad losses of ships and their crews.
  • Nick Thorpe and Peter James, Ancient Inventions. Some things were invented a VERY long time ago – a fascinating romp through the useful physics and engineering through time.
  • T W Koerner, The Pleasures of Counting, a superb account of applying mathematics to the real world.
  • Peter Goodhew, Teaching Engineering, a great account of the work Peter did to use project / problem-based teaching in the University of Liverpool in the UK.

The Ultimate Book of Saturday Science

Ultimate Book of Saturday Science Contents

I. Simple but subtle…

1. Blunderspuds and Carrot Cannons

2. Mr. Bernoulli’s Pop-Up Piston

3. Rapid Fire Vacuum Bazooka

4. Half-blade Propellers

5. Soda Mint Fountains

6. Armor-plated Sandcastle

7. The Riddle of the Sands

8. Tricks of Sideways Light – magic Mondrians and invisible watches

9. Sunbeam Exploders

10. Dead-Or-Alive Ball

11. Cowboy Coffee

12. Electric Glue

13. Electric Gunpowder

14. Eiffel Brick Tower

15. Dominoids

16. Colloons

17. Motor Brushes

18. Smoothwheel Paddle Steamer

19. String Amplifier

20. The Punkah Pendulum

21.The Maharaja’s Sunshade or Galloping Gazebo

II. Surprisingly Subtle…

Surprises ahoy in this maverick collection

1. electric sundial

2. The Kleenex Clock

3. Torsion Time Pencil

4. Swell-gel Flow Stopper

5. The Vortex Pump

6. Waxaulics

7. Telestring

8. Squirting String

9. Spiderman Technology

III. Simple Secrets of the universe…

Fundamentals of the physical world uncovered in elegantly simple demonstrations

1. Molecule Meter – measuring molecules

2. Iron Filing Radio – electromagnetic waves

3. Light and Lens Pipes – the strong focussing principle used in the microscopes of fundamental particle physics

4. Fire from Water – power concentration

5. The Heliracket – waves, molecules and music

6.Helitower – the momentum principle of rockets and helicopters

IV. Cloxotica: Exotic Clocks and oscillators

1. the paperclip clock

2. micropendulum

3. The String Thing

4. Eddy the Coniclock

5. Humming clock

6. Hourglass Wallah

7. Knife through butter clock

8. Creepy clocks and Time Pencils

9.  Polymerizing clock

10. Delay Line Oscillators

11. Fan flap flip flop clock

12. Faucet oscillator

13. Slugulator

14. Sloshulator

V. Geekonics

1. Telebubblegraph

2. Touchy feely sensor

3. Fire wire

4. Electric bubble memory

5. Red hot memory

6. Deflation detection

VI. Mad, Bad and Dangerous

Projects which have hazards, although these can be minimized and controlled

1. Deep Impact: Electric Exploding Disk Cannons

2. Flying Soda Bottle

3. Oxygen Fireworks 

VII. Big stuff

bigger projects which need space and larger parts

1. Helevator: the Elevator of Oz

2. Airbag Oscillator

3. Bubble Tube Oscillator

4. The Preposterously Big Party Blowout

5. Pink Noise Pipes

6. Turbo Panjandrums

7. The Impossible Turbine

8. Rocket Railroad

9. Hovertrain

10. Jet Wash Rocket

11. The Single Helix Pump

12. Leonardo’s Bridge

13. Personal Hovercraft

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Vacuum Bazookas

Vacuum Bazookas: contents

Kinetic Curiosities

1. Hovering Rings / Flutter Rings Discover a new mode of hula hoop motion.

2. Dynabrolly Take away the folding struts of the umbrella and replace them with centrifugal force.

3. Gravity Reversal Make your own negative gravity, but don’t expect to do anything useful with it!

4. Maypole Drill Learn the knack of drilling small holes without the help of Black & Decker.

5. Rotarope Try out a peculiar high-speed jump rope for intelligent midgets.

Strong String Things

6. String Nutcracker If you can’t crack nuts with your bare hands, try using a piece of string . . . and a few chunks of wood.

7. Twisted Sinews Animate animal models in the simplest conceivable way.

The Power of Nothing

8. Vacuum Muscles With the magic of atmospheric pressure, transmit a lot of power—down an empty tube.

9. Vacuum Bazooka Suck projectiles up a tube until they reach “escape velocity” . . .  but how do they escape?

Sounds Peculiar

 10. String Radio Build a broadcasting system that even works around corners (to match your String Telephone).

 11. Mole Radio Take advantage of two channels of electrically conducted melody.

 12. Bat Doppler Double your Doppler shift (at least) with this project for the transistorized.

Transmissions with Omissions

 13. Toothless gearwheels Make transmissions whose gearwheels don’t actually touch and don’t actually have teeth (a noncontact sport).

 14. Flying Pulley Throw away the axles and bearings from a transmission, and still make it work.

Clocks without Cuckoos or Quartz

 15. The Crank and the Pendulum Put together the world’s simplest clock, without a fancy escapement mechanism or electronics.

 16. A Symphony of Siphons Create a clock for people who prefer plumbing and water to gearwheels and springs.

 17. Bernoulli’s Clock Find out why a fluid-driven clock doesn’t make the floor wet and how it uses some properties of an air jet.

Curious Conveyances

18. Vibrocraft Discover an alternative to fitting your pet centipede with a hundred pogo sticks.

 19. Follow that Sunbeam Use a bicycle lamp to provide the steering signals for the simplest imaginable beam-guided vehicle.

 20. Duohelicon Propel a vehicle by contra-rotating adjacent wire helices. (Beware, this project is easy to “screw up”!)

 21. Fishy Boat Use the remarkably efficient tail of a fish to propel a boat–something nature neglected to invent.

 22. Rotarudder Replace the rudder on your boat with an enigmatic cylinder.

 23. Cable Yacht Test the surprisingly high speed of a sail-driven cable car.

Antediluvian Electronics

 24. Beard Amplifier See how a beard of iron filings adhering to an electromagnet allows a small current to control a larger current.

 25. Tornado Transistor Learn why stirring a cup of tea provided the model for this ingenious use of the surface of a vortex to amplify an input current.

Electric Water

 26. Meltdown Alarm Add electrodes to an ice cube for a sensitive freezing-point detector.

 27. Electric Jelly Rainbow Form a rainbow of colors in a special jelly, thanks to the magic of electrolysis.

Infernal Inventions

 28. Binary Match Ignite an emergency campfire using two innocuous substances.

 29. Ultimate Bunsen Burner Make a cooking-gas flame hot enough to melt steel

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Exploding Disk Cannons

Exploding Disk Cannons: contents


 1         Exploding Disk Cannon Learn about crack propagation and launch projectiles.

Designer Demolition

 2         Balloon Detonator Try this for the ends of parties.

 3         Slowly Exploding Bolts Boost your next moon rocket.

New Motors

 4         The Vacuum Engine or Negative Steam Engine Transmit power with nothing.

 5         Rope Ratchet Motor Power a motor with a piece of string.

 6         The 50-Cent Stepper Motor Learn how motors work.

Pushing String

 7         The Pull-me-to-push-me Pull a lot of string backward and you can push a bit of string forward.

 8         Land Jiggers Alternatively, try ice jiggers and go fishing with Inuit.

 9         Power Strings What could be more annoying than rows of electricity pylons? Whistling electricity pylons!

Peculiar Vehiculars

 10      Ekranoplan The close-shaving aircraft: is it a razor or an airplane?

 11      Slimemobile Keep your prop turning and don’t run out of slime.

 12      Ball River Bobsled This vehicle coasts on ball bearings.

 13      Skidmobile Drive everywhere in a skid.

Curious Controls

 14      Wet Blanket Valve Flow Control Try to control this enthusiastic valve.

 15      Electrolytic Gas Pedal Adapt an Edison loudspeaker as a speed control.

 16      The Piezistor: A Victorian Amplifier Mme Curie could have invented this transistor.

Granules and Particules

 17      Rice Grain Ski Jump Try these sporting activities for cereals.

 18      Niagara Meter Shadows show flow.

 19      Magical Magnetic Valveless Valves Stir a little magnetism into your hourglass.

 20      A Balance of Air Blasts Sweep gold dust from your carpet, leave the dog hairs behind.

Perceptive Illusions

 21      Hovering Images Mirages appear with the aid of a rotating lenses and mirrors.

 22      Moiré Microscope All you need are grids of tiny holes.


 23      Exploding Laser Spots Watch this laser-scattering light show.

 24      Instant Parabola Spots It’s all done with smoke and mirrors (and a laser).


 25      Helidoodle Transmit images in spirals.

 26      Messages in Wriggling Lines Communicate with Morse pens and Chartagrams.

 27      Calculator Communicator Send messages using this binary teleprinter.


 28      Posture Meter Are you sitting comfortably? This meter will tell you.

 29      No Smoke without Gas Assemble the world’s cheapest nucleonic gas analyzer.

 30       Spongy Gas Soak up sounds with certain gases

31 Soda Water Gas Analyzer Try the world’s only drinkable gas analyzer.

 32      Electric Plastic turn a piece of packaging into a mini-chemistry lab

Chemical Corner

33       Electric Sand use triboelectricity for flow metering !

34      Electric Invisible Ink Print your designs in deep blue with electrolysis

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Ink Sandwiches

Ink Sandwiches: contents

Chaotic Clocks

1. Chaotic Regularity 

2. Glacial Oscillations

3. Everlasting Hourglass 


4. Juggling Airstreams

5. Railroad Yacht 

Sounds Mathematical

6. Musical Glugging 

7. Pneumatic Drum  

8. Singing Contacts

Jolly Boating

9. Giant Putt-Putt Boat 

10. Follow That Field ! 

Transports of Delight

11. Electric Worms

12. Vacuum Railroad

13. Naggobots

14. Boadicea’s Autochariot

15. Tubal Travelator

Centripetal Force and Centrifugal Projectiles

16. Centripetal Chaos

17. The Rotapult 

Exotic Amplification

18. Transformer Transistor

19. Electrolystor Amplifier

Vibrations, Rotations, and Chance

20. Waltzing Tubes

21. Motor Dice     

Maverick Measurement

22. Coffee-Cup Rev Counter 

23. Coulter’s Bubbles

24. Electronic Elastic

25. Light Tunnels

26. Reverse Electric Lamp 

27. Gravity Diode


Curious Communications

29. Servo Telegraph

30. Send Me a Bubblegram         *          *

31. Pneumatic Morse 

32. Seven-Segment Telegraph 

33. Six-Wire Telegraph 

34. Moving Messages

Unusual Actuators

35. Balloon Biceps  *          *

36. Ink Sandwiches: controlling light

Chemical Magic

37. Red-Hot Batteries

38. Unusually Cool Sunglasses

39. Wet Solar Cell

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