padBackyard Ballistics Build Potato Cannons, Paper Match Rockets,  Cincinnati Fire Kites, Tennis Ball Mortars,  and More Dynamite Devices

by William Gurstelle.

What happens when you duct-tape a couple of potato chip tubes together, then add an energy source, a tennis ball, and a match? Well, not much?unless you know the secret to building the fabled tennis ball mortar.

This step-by-step guide enables ordinary folks to construct 13 awesome ballistic devices using inexpensive household or hardware store materials. Clear instructions, diagrams, and photographs show how to build projects ranging from the simple?a match-powered rocket?to the more complex?a tabletop catapult?to the classic?the infamous potato cannon?to the offbeat?a Cincinnati fire kite. With a strong emphasis on safety, Backyard Ballistics also provides troubleshooting tips, explains the physics behind each project, and profiles such scientists and extraordinary experimenters as Alfred Nobel, Robert Goddard, and Isaac Newton, among others. This book will be indispensable for the legions of backyard toy-rocket launchers and fireworks fanatics who wish every day were the Fourth of July.

?from Chicago Review Press

Inviting amateur scientists to investigate physics concepts, this book shows how to construct an array of devices exploding with fun. The author contends that the thrill of invention has been lost during these times of professionalism. Gurstelle aims to regain that sense of wonder with such exciting devices as a soda-bottle contraption that will shoot a water rocket over 50 feet high and a tabletop catapult fashioned after ones the Romans used to conquer much of the world. Stressing safety measures and advising that the experiments are appropriate only for adults or kids with adult supervision, Gurstelle explains precisely how to make cannons, slingshots, and hot-air balloons out of everyday household items and inexpensive store-bought materials.

Chicago Review, 2001, 169 p., b&w; photos/illus., paperback

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