by Theodore Gray
Published by Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, March 2009
In the spirit of Discovery Channel’s MythBusters and Smash Lab, Popular Science columnist Theo Gray demonstrates fundamental scientific principles through wacky, daredevil experiments that will have readers exclaiming, “Holy !!*$#!!” Witness as he makes subatomic radioactive particles dance in a cloud chamber, mixes sodium and chlorine to create a smoke that will salt a super-sized bag of popcorn, adds 500 pounds of quicklime to water to create a homemade hot tub, builds a liquid battery out of copper sulfate, launches a rocket with a Snickers bar, and uses liquid nitrogen to make a gallon of ice cream in record time. These are just a few of the 52 extreme experiments brought to life by Theo Gray in Mad Science.
Culled from his column “Gray Matter,” which has been a favorite of Popular Science readers for years, these experiments have been expanded to include even more of the fascinating science behind them, as well as hundreds of additional images. Every experiment is accompanied by stunning full-color photographs that provide a front-row seat to split-second chemical reactions and glorious subatomic activity. Gray’s writing is fresh, hip, and makes the science exciting and easy to understand. Not only are the experiments visually arresting, each one explains a fascinating principle of elemental science in a unique and irresistibly compelling way.
Mad Science is the perfect book for anyone—of any age, who is fascinated by all things electrical, chemical, or explosive, and who loves a vicarious thrill.
Theodore Gray is the author of Popular Science magazine's “Gray Matter” column, the proprietor of periodictable.com and the creator of the iconic photographic periodic table poster seen in universities, schools, museums and TV shows from “MythBusters” to “Hannah Montana”. In his other life he is cofounder of the major software company Wolfram Research, creators of the world's leading technical software system, Mathematica™. He lives in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.
"This is a fabulous book, and a real education, too - a beautiful introduction to hands-on chemistry. Theo Gray brings us dozens of experiments in minute, clear, and loving detail, and each one becomes a door onto the marvels of how chemicals react. Whether he is showing us how to make table salt from its violent elements, or, in a quieter vein, to make one's own nylon thread or "lead" pencils, Gray's encyclopedic knowledge and contagious enthusiasm transport us to deep intellectual realms, while never sacrificing a sense of wonder and, above all, fun."
--Oliver Sacks, author of Awakenings, Musicophillia, Uncle Tungsten, and many others
"I've spent 22 years working with Theo Gray on creating software, seeing him find simple ways to do the seemingly impossible. You're in for a treat here when he applies the same creativity and insight to revealing the science of everyday things."
--Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica® and author of A New Kind of Science
"What a magnificent book. It's gorgeous, playful, and draws you in. Every single photo shows not only a deep love of science in the abstract, but also a tinkerer's love of the STUFF of science; the tools and glass, the clay and metal, and all the things that make science accessible to everyone."
--Adam Savage, star of Mythbusters
"What good is this Nobel Prize around my neck if it doesn't produce admiration for science writers such as Theo Gray, whose skillful work helps convert young students into serious researchers."
--Leon Lederman, winner of the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physics
"Theo's MAD SCIENCE is destined to inspire and spark the imaginations of the next generation of makers, tinkerers, engineers and mad scientists!"
--Phillip Torrone, Senior Editor of Make magazine
"Theodore Gray has attained a level of near superhuman geekery that the rest of us can only mutely admire."
--Cecil Adams, The Straight Dope