The Amateur Scientist

From Academic Kids

From 1928 until 2001, Scientific American magazine published a monthly column entitled The Amateur Scientist. In its pages were presented over one thousand science projects from almost every field of science. Project authors were both professional and amateur scientists. The articles contained enough detail to reproduce significant pieces of apparatus such as vacuum systems and even particle accelerators. C.L. Stong was perhaps the most well known editor (and contributor) of this collection. Other authors included Jearl Walker, Forrest M. Mims III, and Shawn Carlson.

While the term amateur may conjure up a vision of crackpot or non-professional this couldn't be further from the truth as many of the projects require sophisticated scientific methods to reproduce their results. Most articles also include some discussion of new science the project allows its builder to investigate. Some example projects include a nitrogen laser and a seismograph.

In 1957, C.L. Stong published a short archive of selected projects in a book titled, "The Scientific American Book of Projects for the Amateur Scientist". As of 2004, the entire collection of articles is available on CD-ROM from the non-profit Society for Amateur Scientists (http://www.sas.org).


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