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A contraction of the words, "biology" and "electronics," bionics is the science of how the living emit, receive, and treat various signals so that life processes can be mimicked in machines and robots. For example, sonar illustrates a technology based on the navigation system of the bat. This book takes the hobbyist approach to bionics in the same style as Newton Braga's other "evil genius" books do. The "Evil Genius" series of books have several different authors, and I think that Braga's efforts are the best in this series of hobbyist project-centric books, in that they tend to strike a happy medium between construction details and theory. The construction details for each project are adequate as always. However, do not expect much in the way of biology or electronic theory. The descriptions of each project tell you basically the mechanism of operation but do not delve deeply into equations. However, if you are just interested in building some interesting projects, and perhaps using it to get a high schooler interested in the subject, this book is recommended. There are just no other readable books on this subject, unless you include the classic "Cybernetics, Second Edition: or the Control and Communication in the Animal and the Machine" by Wiener, which has an academic tone and involves a moderate amount of mathematics. I notice that Amazon does not show the table of contents, so I do that here: SECTION ONE: INTRODUCTION SECTION TWO: BIOLOGY AND ELECTRONICS SECTION THREE: 25 PRACTICAL PROJECTS Project 1: Experiments with an Electric Fish Project 2: Visual Biofeedback Project 3: Audio Biofeedback Project 4: Nerves Stimulator Project 5: Stroboscopic Lamp Project 6: Bio-Amplifier Project 7: Panic Generator Project 8: Magnetic Field Generator Project 9: Hypnotic LEDs Project 10: Insect Repellent Project 11: Bionic Trap Project 12: Animal Conditioner Project 13: White Noise Generator Project 14: Bionic Ear Project 15: Insect Killer Project 16: Bionic Tactile Organ Project 17: Lie Detector Project 18: Bionic Smell Generator Project 19: Experimenting with Oscillators Project 20: Ionizer Project 21: Tactile Hearing Aid Project 22: Using the Multimeter in Bionic Experiments Project 23: Bionic Vision Project 24: Ecological Monitor Project 25: Bat Ear SECTION FOUR: ADDITIONAL INFORMATION SECTION FIVE: RESOURCES INDEX
I didn't have high expectations when I ordered this book, and yet I was still disappointed. "Bionics for the Evil Genius" is a very basic book, appropriate for elementary or junior high school students. Unfortunately, I can't even strongly recommend it to that audience, because the schematics provided are incomplete, explanations of how the circuits presented work are practically non-existent, and the biological science tie-in is extremely weak. These are just basic circuits that somehow impact human or animal biology/senses, re-branded as "bionic."
Don't be fooled by the ambitious project titles in each chapter. How could our intrepid author fit 25 interesting projects exploring the boundaries of technology and biology in a single short book? The answer: he can't. These are all very basic circuits that have little if any connection with "bionics" - any secondary school with a class in electronics would teach circuits like this - except they'd explain how and why they work and a variety of useful applications for them.
The projects reminded me nothing so much as "spy kits" sold to kids, so they can pretend to be James Bond with a few simple electronic gadgets. A weak audio amplifier becomes "bionic hearing." A light detector is re-branded "bionic vision." A speaker illustrates bio-electrics. Construct a hypnotic device - with the same sort of flashing LEDs a string of Christmas lights would use.
The publisher should make it clear this book is "Juvenile Non-Fiction", and if it were labeled as such, and if it featured more than a few pages discussing the hows and whys of basic electrical circuits, I wouldn't give it a bad review. Since the book really has little if anything to do with bionics, isn't particularly informative even for teenage students, and is poorly written and edited, I can't recommend it. The book just fails on too many levels.
I thought this was a great book, full of interesting and educational projects. You get right into the projects with information about how to begin, what you need, and how to put it together. It's not an academic book or a theory book. This is for people (young and old) who want to get their hands into the projects and learn by doing. Excellent for parents to do with their kids. I recommend it.