Synopses & Reviews
The Practical Pyromaniac combines science, history, and DIY pyrotechnics to explain humankinds most useful and paradoxical tool: fire. William Gurstelle, author of the bestselling Backyard Ballistics and frequent contributor to Popular Mechanics and Make magazine, presents 25 projects with instructions, diagrams, photos, and links to video demonstrations that enable people of all ages (including young enthusiasts with proper supervision) to explore and safely play with fire.
From Franklins stove to Diesels engine, Gurstelle tells the explosive and fascinating tales of the great American and European pyromaniacs who scientifically revealed the mysteries of fire. Among them are hot-headed "Gunpowder" Joseph Priestley, who discovered oxygen, and Antoine Lavoisier, the father of chemistry who lost his head on the guillotine, as well as scientist and spy Count Rumford and dapper Humphrey Davy whose chemical discoveries and fiery inventions saved thousands of lives.
With The Practical Pyromaniac in hand readers can replicate these breakthrough scientists experiments and inventions, from the simply fascinating one-candle-power engine to the nearly magical fire piston and from a practical backpacker stove to an incredible tornado of fire.
"What a fun, totally engrossing book! Gurstelles projects—everything from a tiny single-candle engine to a flamethrower—are both easy to build and hard to resist. But along the way Gurstelle also weaves in a fascinating account of how the mysteries of fire were deciphered by some of historys greatest scientists. Think of The Practical Pyromaniac as a cookbook for the budding scientist in each of us." —James Meigs, editor in chief of Popular Mechanics
"If only I had had a reference like William Gurstelle's terrific [book] ... provides no-nonsense walkthroughs of a host of excellent, intriguing and magical experiments (with plenty of very sage safety talk and advice)." —Mythbusters' Adam Savage in his review for The Wall Street Journal
About the Author
William Gurstelle is a professional engineer who has been researching and building model catapults and ballistic devices for more than 30 years. He is the author of Absinthe & Flamethrowers, The Art of the Catapult; the bestselling Backyard Ballistics; Building Bots, Whoosh, Boom, Splat; and Notes from the Technology Underground. He is a contributing editor at Make magazine and writes frequently for The Rake, Wired, and several other national magazines.