It's the Holiday season, and many people are thinking about parties they'll either host or attend in the next month. There are office parties, neighborhood parties, and family parties to prepare for, and we haven't even mentioned political parties. Well, we can't do much about the political parties (no one ever has), but for the rest we have some suggestions to make your experience more fun, and make you the life of the party.
The suggestions—all based on elementary high school science—are tricks you can play on your guests, hosts, or workmates. They come from a fascinating book entitled Tricks & Pranks To Fool Your Friends, written by Sheila Anne Barry, illustrated by Buck Jones, and published by Sterling Publishing Company, which holds the copyright. If you find that people are always telling you to get a life, get this book first; life and laughter will come next.
The tricks are guaranteed to perk up a party where pseudo-sophisticates from down the block are bragging about their latest acquisition, family members are squabbling, or co-workers are "gettin' jiggy with it" (something you definitely don't need to see). Just stop the action and show them these three tricks with water.
Trick One: The Always-Full Glass. Pour water into a smooth-rimmed glass right up to the top. Put a piece of cardboard on top of the glass and press firmly. With your hand still pressing the cardboard on top of the glass, turn the glass upside down. Now, take your hand away from the cardboard and glass. What happens to the water and cardboard? Nothing! Air pressure keeps the water in the glass and keeps the cardboard attached to the glass.
If you really have faith in physics—and you can run fast—do this trick holding the water glass over the head of your significant other. Just be sure you have a good seal with the cardboard, and—as they say in the military—have an exit strategy.
Trick Two: The Ball That Won't Fall. Put a small ball on a table and cover it with an empty pitcher with straight sides or one that's wider at the bottom than the top. Move the pitcher rapidly in a circular motion, and hit the ball so it is making the same circles as the pitcher. Now, while you're moving that pitcher, lift it off the table. The ball will go with it, and as long as you keep rotating the pitcher and the ball, the ball will stay in the pitcher, thanks to centrifugal force.
One great side benefit of that trick is that it's a great strengthening exercise for the muscles you use when mixing drinks.
Trick Three: The String Along. Lift an ice cube with a piece of string without tying the string around the ice cube. First, put an ice cube in a pan of water. Then, dip the string in the water to soak it and put an end of the string on the ice cube. Sprinkle salt on the string and the ice cube. The salt will melt the ice a tad, and when it refreezes the ice and string will bond. Now, lift up the string and the ice cube will come with it.
For extra fun, pass the string around the room and tell everyone to hold it over their head—or the head of someone next to them.
There's no black magic involved here, it's just the laws of physics in action. You know that, but probably most of the others at the party won't. You'll be the life of the party, and when word spreads, you'll soon be invited to get-togethers all around town. You may then want to learn a new trick: to disappear. In fact, your new friends may ask you to learn to disappear. Maybe we'll cover that in a future column.
Reach Teague at firstname.lastname@example.org.