The Young Man's Book of Amusement

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newdrownedfly.png From the title of this Victorian science book it's not out of line to assume that there might be at least a few diy methods for accidentally electrocuting yourself, but that's just the beginning.

The tome in its entirety is supposed to be available for free as a hi-res e-book sometime this month, but for now you can see a full list of some actually really beautiful sounding demonstrations, (like how to make phosphorescent displays using oyster shells), and some other cool heirloom science excerpts at Lateral Science.

Thanks to Tim O'Reilly for the link.


  1. I’ve done the “Revive a drowned fly” trick before but it was with salt.

    Re-Captcha “the ramsay”

  2. LOL I learned to drown flies and revive them later while I was still in college, many years ago. We used to roll them in salt to absorb the moisture. I’m glad to see that this is actually an ancient art, and find it amusing that the author mention that the ashes he suggests for the process should not still be burning. From the flies perspective, chalk would probably be the preferred medium for being rolled around in, given a choice of salt, ash or chalk.

    I hope the link for the full download is posted on BB when it is available.

    1. When one attempts to reanimate a deceased malefactor, the results are often tragick, as in the case of the late V. von Frankenstein of Geneva. Much better to practice the art upon the corses of dead dollymops. I know a bloke in Whitechapel who can provide said for a reasonable price.

  3. By Jove, I believe I may find within this tome’s august covers the very inspiration I need to complete my Analytical Engine and thereby win the hand of my leman Lady Ada!

  4. Thank you for this wonderful posting, Ms. O’Reilly!

    Happy St. Paddy’s Day and great to see you on BB.

  5. In addition to chalk or ashed (i haven’t tried those), covering it table salt will also resuscitate a drowned fly.

  6. I have learned that, in evaluating books of this sort, it is enlightening to measure the number of pages on which the word “acid” appears.

    For this book, the answer is 39.

  7. Works for ants and other insects too! Don’t drown them yourselves you cruel crowd. Just for rescue purposes only.

    What I would do was recover the insect asap and place them on a dry cotton/fine fiber towel/material and then start blowing to get that feller on its feet in no time! And then I flick them across the room so they know not to hang out in the bathtub.

  8. If you like this one, you’ll also like “The Boy Mechanic”, available on Project Gutenberg.

    “Another class of projects illustrate the caviler attitude toward environment and health in 1913. These projects involve items such as gunpowder, acetylene, hydrogen, lead, mercury, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, cadmium, potassium sulfate, potassium cyanide, potassium ferrocyanide, copper sulfate, and hydrochloric acid. Several involve the construction of hazardous electrical devices. Please view these as snapshots of culture and attitude, not as suggestions for contemporary activity.”

    The Wright-flyer-like hang glider illustration near the front looks way cool.

  9. This is great and the comments with links to the other books are very nice too.

    Thanks all!

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