05 November 2009

Experimental reading

I've been reading more general audience science books lately, which is part of the reason for relative quiet here.  But it makes for ideas later.

The first book in the experimental line is geared for middle school to junior high students.  It's perfectly useful for older folks as well.  And it will probably be a good idea to have one at hand for some of the experiments if performed by the younger.  101 Incredible Experiments for the Weekend Scientist by Rob Beattie.  The experiments cover a range of things, from making slime to making a cloud.  Some weather and climate examples, but not especially aimed to that.  The experiment descriptions do also contain a 'how it works' section, which I take to be very important.

The second is geared to an older audience, college age, but I think most experiments and observations can be done by middle school to jr. high students.  They just might want someone else to do the translation to more familiar language.  That's Clouds in a Glass of Beer: Simple Experiments in Atmospheric Physics by Craig F. Bohren.  This is the book (chapter 10) that prompted my Tuesday note.  Its 22 chapters include much more by way of explanation of the science behind what you're observing in doing the experiments, and how this ties in to the atmosphere. 

In both cases, the authors mention some things that the experimenter can use for proceeding to further experiments.  They usually aren't laying it out exactly this way, so keep your eye open for comments like 'best results are for doing X' (using a small tube, for instance, to see surface tension).  That's a sign that you can get different results if you use a larger tube, and it can be informative to see just how much the result depends on the size of the tube.


Term Papers said...

Really like it reading is my hobby and I really admire this article..!

Robert Grumbine said...

Thanks Term!

Something almost universal among scientists is that they're readers -- including of non-scientific things. Science fiction is very common, which I guess is no surprise. But so are mysteries, history, classic literature, and ... well, lots of things. Details vary by who you're talking to.

Feel free to suggest some good books yourself -- ones you've read.

Alastair said...

Will you accept my recommendation of "The Black Swan" as a book to read, in place of the one quatloo that I owe you? I ran up that debt by betting that the sea ice would reach a new minimum.

Of course, it went in the other direction which really puzzled me, but I think I may have found the answer in Clouds in a Glass of Beer which I looked at again after your post.

My explanation is too long for a comment, so I have posted in on my blog here.

Robert Grumbine said...

Book recommendations are always welcome, but don't replace quatloos. With the 1 from you, and 50 from William, I'll start an artistic collection. Or something.

Notice, by the way, that NSIDC shows October as being the 2nd lowest average extent, vs. 3rd lowest in September. Actually, rather remarkably below 2008.

In similar vein, and per Thomas Palm's comment a while back, the AMSRE ice at IARC/JAXA showed the then-current coverage (for that day) to be the lowest ever seen. I haven't checked back in to view whether the record has sustained itself. Still, something to look at.

One of these days, I'll get to Black Swan. It's got a few hundred ahead of it in line. It'll probably jump the line some when I get it, but it's still a pretty good line.