Posts Tagged ‘book’

Introducing Open Lab 2010

// March 22nd, 2011 // Comments Off on Introducing Open Lab 2010 // Science Communication

Open Lab 2010Containing the best of science writing on the web, Open Lab 2010 has been published and printed. Inside are 50 blog posts, 6 poems and a cartoon – including my very own blog post How Aqua Regia Saved Nobel Prizes from the Nazis. The book was edited by the thoughtful animal, Jason Goldman.

You can buy it as a file download or as a real, old-fashioned paperback. A known aphrodisiac, having this book on your bedside table WILL increase your attractiveness and intelligence. The cool nerdy goodness spirals out of it and is soaked up through your pores by osmosis. It’s guaranteed to be delightful for reading, displaying, or simply cuddling.

I’m beyond excited to be included in the anthology. Although I’m published online, in magazines, in newspapers, in zines, this is my first time with a real book. Strike me down with a feather, I feel like a proper writer!

May Open Lab 2010 be the first of many books with my words inside.

Buy a copy of this highly intellectually arousing book here.

The secret science behind movie stunts and special effects

// March 20th, 2011 // Comments Off on The secret science behind movie stunts and special effects // Science at Home, Science Communication, Science in the Movies

Movie stuntsSteve Wolf sent me his book on the science of movie stunts and special effects for review last month, by Saddleback Educational Publishing.

Full of glossy pictures, this book is written for aspiring young scientists (not for adults or film makers.) Particularly kids who are a little off the rails, wild experimenters who need guidance without curbing enthusiasm. I think the author himself fell into that category.

One of the best things about the book was a message that science isn’t just about reports and measuring things. It’s about creating, trying, testing and doing cool stuff. That’s a good message.

When he’s not writing, Steve Wolf does science shows in schools. I bet they’re a blast. He’s worked in the film industry for years creating special effects and in the first page of the book admits “he has the best job in the world.” I got the feeling that he gets a real kick out of exploding stuff.

That brings me to the other good message – safety. From smoke detectors to seatbelts, he covers not only safety in special effects, but also just every day. It even talked about life lessons like doing what you love and eating healthy food. Although these are good things for kids to learn, I did wonder if this book was the right avenue for that. Safety messages are important, but talking about politeness, teamwork and professionalism seemed like a little much for a kid excited by science.

burnt toast

People are like toast. You can't unburn them.

But back to blowing stuff up, that was cool. Did you know that complete combustion of propane creates a blue flame, but incomplete combustion makes an orange flame because the heat excites carbon atoms? I didn’t.

Oh, and it showed someone covered with Zel Jel, fire insulating goo used by stunts performers which looks like marmalade. To quote the book “remember, people are like toast. You can’t unburn them.”

Diagrams also splatter the pages, which is awesome. I love a good diagram. They showed atomic states of matter, electrical circuitry (both series and parallel) and even chemical reactions. Clear explanations were delivered with a dose of movie stunt applications, like making mist, or arming explosives.

Teachers could build science classes around the book, as it covers important concepts and putting them in a cool context. It would be suitable for Years Five to Eight as a short introduction to complicated topics including atomic theory, chemical reactions and electric circuits, though none were discussed in huge depth. Sometimes I wasn’t sure which audience the book was talking to – young children or teenagers? But it could be used to spark classroom discussions.

At the end of the book Steve describes how it all comes together on set, from rolling cameras to checking all the explosions have detonated correctly after the stunt. It was a good insight into the film industry, but this is a book aimed at the science, not at movie making. Aspiring film producers won’t get a lot out of the book, certainly not how to make their own stunts. That’s not the purpose of the book. It’s about inspiring kids to do science using movie stunts as a draw card.

The Secret Science Behind Movie Stunts & Special Effectsis a nice book, and would make a good addition to a school library. It has potential as an alternative or addition to science textbooks. And if you know a kid (8-12) who does science experiments at home and loves movies, it would make a good present. Not for adults or film makers.

Oh, Oh OMG I’m included in Open Lab 2010!

// January 10th, 2011 // 1 Comment » // Jibber Jabber, Science Communication

Open Lab 2010The finalists of Open Lab have been announced. I’m all a-quiver with excitement because I’m included in the list!

That means I’m going to be PUBLISHED in an ANTHOLOGY of science writers. Among the list of those included are some big names like Scicurious, Ed Yong, Carl Zimmer, Kevin Zelnio and many more excellent bloggers.

Many thanks to Jason Goldman for his work as the editor, and to the reviewers and everyone else in the project who give up their time (and probably sleep) to put Open Lab 2010 together. The book will be published in early February and available online and in some stores.

Here’s my award winning post How aqua regia saved Nobel Prize medals from the Nazis.

OpenLab10 – best of the blogs for 2010

// December 16th, 2010 // Comments Off on OpenLab10 – best of the blogs for 2010 // Science Communication

Last years edition of OpenLab

Quick note and heads up to check out OpenLab10, which has published a list of some of the best blogging efforts from 2010. A good bunch in anyone’s book!

From this epic list they will narrow down to a mere 53, which will be published in an anthology on actual REAL paper, like the kind you see on TV.

Me own blog is listed for two posts. Firstly, How aqua regia saved Nobel Prize medals from the Nazis, a fiction based on a true science story and lively tale of chemistry trickery (chemitrickery) and bravery. Secondly may favourite monotreme, the weird, the wonderful, the Platypus. A poisonous, egg laying mammal with ten sex chromosomes.

I would invite you (nay, beg you) to vote for me, but it’s not that kind of thing so you’re off the hook.

But if you want to read some truly amazing examples of scientific writing, check out the submissions for OpenLab10! (Bookmark me first so you can come back later. You have me on RSS, right? Just checking.)

Happy reading!






Buy me a Beer!
    If you don't want me to mention your donation just check the box above.
  • $ 0.00
Twittarrr
Follow @CaptainSkellett (568 followers)