Wednesday, July 23, 2008

We're all 8 years old at heart

Two of our latest books will appeal to the little kid inside you, and that gut reaction you get when you learn something cool.

The Way Toys Work: the science behind the Magic 8 Ball, Etch A Sketch, Boomerang, and more is by Ed and Woody Sobey, and it is a triumph of reverse engineering (if you'd like to know more about reverse engineering, and safe ways in which to do it, the Sobeys have kindly included a section at the beginning of the book). Basically, this book takes all the toys that you, your parents and your kids have loved and literally deconstructs them. You get to see the inner workings of potato guns, Rubik's Cubes and Nintendos; you learn the basic principles behind the workings of Slinkys, Yo-Yos and Wiffle Balls; and they show you how to make your own Silly Putty, Play-Doh and Nerf guns. If you know a bright kid who likes to experiment, or if you are a guy under the age of 80, this book is a must for you to read.

Discovery! Unearthing the new treasures of archaeology, edited by Brian M. Fagan, is a great overview of archaeology today. We all know, deep down, that the field is not as exciting or dangerous as Indiana Jones movies - but there's still something inherently cool about unearthing ancient civilizations and the bits and pieces they left behind. Covering over 50 recent discoveries, each section in this book presents beautiful photos, descriptions of the site, and some of the theories that have been shaped around these artifacts. Best of all, many of the entries were written by the actual scientists who led the projects. From Civil War submarines off the coast of the southern U.S. to the origin of humans in Africa, the story of mankind's cultural development can be traced through these archaeological finds. This is not only a fascinating read, but you don't have to be entombed with snakes ("Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?").

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