November: Month of books at

I love books about science and facts and strange behaviour – don’t you? Makes for fun reading with the kids too! Here are five recent books on this topic that I have enjoyed.

A Bee in a Cathedral: And 99 Other Scientific Analogies By Joel Levy, Published by Firefly Books (June 16, 2011).

Find out about “The Goldilocks Universe” and Why like Goldilocks, we need a universe that is ‘right right’ for us. Why do dominoes fall faster than books, why is electricity like water, what would happen if an apple were as big as Earth – these and plenty of other fascinating questions are explored along with simple diagrams to explain the physics of the universe.

Why are Orangutans Orange? Compiled and edited by Mick O’Hare, production editor of New Scientist, Published by Profile books [Following on from the previous book in this series Why Don’t Penguins’ Feet Freeze?: And 114 Other Questions]

Amazing and complex, peculiar and mysterious reader questions about our world are explored in this book (with colour photographs from New Scientist readers). Unusual coloured animals, strange shaped clouds, interesting ice formations, unusual insect behaviour – these topics and more are explored and answered by various professionals in the relevant field.

Fifty Animals that Changed the Course of History By Eric Chaline, Published by Firefly Books (August 11, 2011).

This beautifully produced book explores human’s relationship with various animals – from using for food and warmth, exploiting for industry and science to hunting to extinction for sport as well as domestication, art, ornamentation and worship. Various animals are explored in terms of their relationship to man – history and culture of their use is explored along with some lovely photos and illustrations and current scientific illustrations.

For example the Mosquito is responsible for millions of deaths a year in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Honeybee on the other hand plays a vital role in pollinating commercial plants and at the same time providing humans with honey and beeswax. The book goes on to look at other animals such as whales, silkworms, buffalo, the wolf (many cultures have stories of wolves – from wolfman type stories to nursery rhymes), chickens and cows to Lions and Reindeer. A fascinating book.

The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science: 50 Experiments for Daring Young Scientists By Sean Connolly. Published by Workman Publishing Company (May 5, 2010).

Stories of mad scientists and their discoveries of the centuries that led to major scientific advances for human kind. Sean Connolly takes us step by step through some of the maddest of scientific experiments and explains the principals behind them. As well as this he leads young scientists on a journey of discovery of their own.

Things That Nobody Knows By William Roland Hartston. Published by Atlantic Books (October 1, 2011).

I love this book – what a great title – things that nobody knows – like “Is telepathy possible?”, “Can robots become self aware?”, “How did the children’s string game of cat’s cradle spread to so many different cultures?” and “Are we living in a computer simulation, as in the film The Matrix?”. Plus lots more questions both hilarious and serious – with information about various hypothesis that have been put towards these questions over the years. Fascinating and funny stuff!

All of these books are available in Australia through Allen and Unwin).

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Evil mad scientist has done it again and developed a pattern to make these two bags the d20 is a icosahedron (composed of twenty triangular faces, with five meeting at each of the twelve vertices) lined zipper bag. The (retro-dork-chic-DIY) d12 bag is a dodecahedral (composed of twelve regular pentagonal faces, with three meeting at each vertex). I just love when math meets craft … so very nerdy cool.

evil mad scientist d20 bag

evil mad scientist d12 bag


Wholly Irresponsible Exploits: 65 Ways to Muck About with Science by Sean Connolly (allen unwin) and Corinthian (March 3, 2009).

A sequel to Wholly Irresponsible Experiments! (not really deserving of the irresponsible part of the title though as these are all pretty responsible). A winner of a book, just like the previous book, lots of fun – very slight danger – a bit of fire and ice here and there – but with lots of caution warnings all over the place.

With crazy projects like making a paper saucepan – is it possible to boil water in a paper cup over an open flame? Make some fake blood, light a sugar cube on fire, garlic smelling balloons, a storm in a bottle, make a straw rocket, solar powered oven and really so much more.

My husband and son got a huge kick out of doing some of these experiments as did my son’s kindergarten teacher – a book with a really broad range of appeal – although of particular interest to kids who like to experiment and who like to make stuff and who are interested in how stuff works.

Save the Earth Science Experiments: Science Fair Projects for Eco-Kids by Elizabeth Snoke Harris. Lark Books; (January 6, 2009).

You may not think science experiments are crafty – but they so are – crafting, science and the environment all mixed up together – fantastic learning fun for kids.

Mixed up with the science experiments – aimed at middle school age kids but also appropriate for younger kids with parental supervision, is lots of information about the environment, ‘our carbon footprint’, weather patterns and solar facts.

The experiments include growing plants – trialling different types of fertilisers and water absorption, making a solar still to purify salt water, make a water wheel and see how fast it can go and how much water it can lift, grow bacteria and see which disinfectant cleaners actually work, make a mini wind turbine and measure the voltage it produces – and many more…

A fantastic resource for learning about the environment and science while making stuff.

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Female reproductive system by textile artist Christa Rowley– seen on craftster – find more on etsy.

female anatomy cross stitch


periodic table of knitting

Mary Joy from Yummy yarn is currently working on a Periodic Table of Knitting. Inspired by other periodic tables – she says:

It’s a perfectly logical match, if you think about it: the craft of knitting involves the use of stitches and techniques that are abbreviated and translated into symbols that are universally recognized.