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Downie, Neil A. 1955-

PERSONAL:

Born September 23, 1955, in Valetta, Malta; children: Helen, Rebecca. Education: Merton College, Oxford, M.A., 1977; Imperial College of Science and Technology, London, Ph.D., 1981; also studied in Hamburg, Germany. Hobbies and other interests: Old science books.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Air Products, Crockford Ln., Basingstoke RG24 8FE, England.

CAREER:

BOC, Guildford, England, research and development manager for British electronic gases, 1985-92; Maran and Co., London, England, director, 1992-2000; Air Products, Basingstoke, England, research associate, 2000—. Operator of a weekend science club for youth in Guildford.

WRITINGS:

Industrial Gases, Blackie (New York, NY), 1997.

Vacuum Bazookas, Electric Rainbow Jelly, and 27 Other Saturday Science Projects, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2001.

Ink Sandwiches, Electric Worms, and 37 Other Experiments for Saturday Science and Gonzo Gizmos: Projects and Devices to Channel Your Inner Geek, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 2003.

Exploding Disk Cannons, Slimemobiles, and 31 Other Projects for Saturday Science, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Neil A. Downie told CA: "There is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing around in science. It is always rewarding to find something that works well and is simple to do. I find it especially rewarding when something turns up that is new or unexpected, and when I have uncovered a surprising nugget, I like to tell people about it. Mostly I do that at a Saturday morning club I do with kids, but the really good ideas I squirrel away until I have so many that I can write a book.

"My popular science books are thus collections of maverick experiments and demonstrations. I put them together with an analysis of the science behind them, but because they are often novel and unusual, I don't or can't give a complete analysis. There is further stuff for the reader to do. I also drop some hints about further experiments that could be done, too. Finally, I try to round off each experiment with an account of my own experiences, and I leaven the mix with a few touches of wisdom and humor from the world of art and literature, as well as science. I have a lot of fun doing experiments and writing these books, and I try to make sure that the reader will enjoy them, too."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Scientist, March-April, 2004, David A. Schneider, review of Ink Sandwiches, Electric Worms, and 37 Other Experiments for Saturday Science and Gonzo Gizmos: Projects and Devices to Channel Your Inner Geek, p. 184.

Booklist, December 1, 2001, Gilbert Taylor, review of Vacuum Bazookas, Electric Rainbow Jelly, and 27 Other Saturday Science Projects, p. 614.

Engineer, February 7, 2003, Louis Auchincloss, review of Vacuum Bazookas, Electric Rainbow Jelly, and 27 Other Saturday Science Projects, p. 38.

Science News, December 13, 2003, review of Ink Sandwiches, Electric Worms, and 37 Other Experiments for Saturday Science and Gonzo Gizmos, p. 383.

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Downie, Neil A. 1955-

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