Gurstelle, William. Whoosh Boom Splat. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2007. ISBN 0-307-33948-3.
So you've read The Dangerous Book for Boys and now you're wondering, “Where's the dangerous book for adults?”. Well, here you go. Subtitled “The Garage Warrior's Guide to Building Projectile Shooters”, in just 160 pages with abundant illustrations, the author shows how with inexpensive materials, handyman tools, and only the most modest of tinkering skills, you can build devices including a potato cannon which can shoot a spud more than 200 metres powered by hairspray, a no-moving-parts pulse jet built from a mason jar and pipe fittings, a steam cannon, a “snap shooter” made from an ordinary spring-type wooden clothespin which can launch small objects across a room (or, should that not be deemed dangerous enough, flaming matches [outside, please!]), and more. The detailed instructions for building the devices and safety tips for operating them are accompanied by historical anecdotes and background on the science behind the gadgets. Ever-versatile PVC pipe is used in many of the projects, and no welding or metalworking skills (beyond drilling holes) are required.

If you find these projects still lacking that certain frisson, you might want to check out the author's Adventures from the Technology Underground (February 2006), which you can think of as The Absurdly Dangerous Book for Darwin Award Candidates, albeit without the detailed construction plans of the present volume. Enough scribbling—time to get back to work on that rail gun.

December 2007 Permalink