This is a cookbook of science demonstrations guaranteed to make a big impression. Author Theo Gray says "I've tried to capture the fun and sense of adventure that comes with science, as well as its truth and beauty." He starts out with an introduction that includes a warning about the potential danger that some of these experiments can pose. He explains that with any chemistry there are potential risks, and that within this book there are experiments he would let his kids do but others that it would be crazy to try at home. One very prominent warning says "If you never read any warnings, please read this: Wear Safety Glasses!" The book includes experiments in chapters entitled "Experimental Cuisine," "Doomsday DIY," "Raw Power," "Playing with Fire," "Heavy Metal," "Natural Wonders," and "Twisted Shop Class." In the "Experimental Cuisine" chapter, Gray starts with an experiment that he says is the most dangerous in the book, making salt by transferring the electrons from sodium to chlorine, but in the next experiment he makes liquid nitrogen ice cream. He demonstrates how to make nylon, a match, and a soup-can searchlight in the "Doomsday" chapter. "Playing with Fire" includes burning steel wool and making a phosphorus sun. The "Heavy Metal" chapter uses magnetism and electricity to shrink coins and describes rusting aluminum with mercury. "Natural Wonders" demonstrates producing lightening using Dynamitron and Van de Graaff machines. "Twisted Shop Class" includes electroplating and a quicklime hot tub.
This is just a sample of the more than 50 experiments described in the book. Overall this is a really fun and enjoyable read. The photographs of each experiment are exceptional, and the directions are easy to read. Gray consistently cautions the reader of the dangers of the experiments by including "Real Danger Alert" boxes thoughout the book. He also provides a concise description of the science behind the experiments in a language that the reader can understand.
Any budding scientist or backyard chemist would enjoy this book, although without proper equipment and safety the experiments are not something that everyone should try. Science instructors will find this book useful if they are looking for an attention-grabbing demonstration for their chemistry classes, but as the author says "This book does not tell you enough to do all of the experiments safely!" Provided in the introduction is a website where the reader can find videos, sources for materials, and more information on technical aspects of the experiments. It is enjoyable, fun, and exciting to read, probably a good source for ideas to use in demonstrations, but not a "do it yourself" manual.