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When I was growing up, I really enjoyed learning by experimenting with all kinds of things. I also learnt a lot from various educational science kits that sympathetic parents bought, probably trying to facilitate my interests (or hoping to contain the interests on the safe side of science and technology). There were all kinds of exciting kits, ranging from The Little Electrician, to the Chemistry kit, to the Nuclear Energy exploration kit….

In addition to this, it was really fun to combine the kits with Lego, Meccano and bits and pieces from broken things found in the basement.
Back in the 1960s, it was also possible, as a kid, to walk in to the local pharmacy and buy all kinds of interesting stuff (e.g. HCL, HNO3, H2SO4, NH3, more or less the whole chemical alphabet….). You could also get a good variety of electronic components in all radio shops.

Later in life, I have always tried to choose stuff with open-ended educational value when buying (or making!) birthday gifts to young people. Sadly, the possibility to send anything interesting abroad by post has recently been made almost impossible.

The Irish postal service An Post now demand that you fill out an Aviation Security Declaration when sending a larger letter or small parcel. As far as I have googled this, it’s a fairly recent thing (February 2012?). Perhaps it’s the UK that have forced Ireland into this, as most of the stuff posted in Ireland with destinations in Europe pass through the UK, and with the Olympics and other silly antics around the corner, they are really paranoid about everything.

This leaves me with the only option, to post the most dangerous of all things: books. Books may contain ideas that may change the world.


  1. I remember getting these kinds of kits! It was in the 90’s but I still, rather fun!

  2. I keep trying to get my daughter interesting stuff like that, but they seem to have been dumbed down and simplifed. The Radiation Lab one looks ace!

  3. We seem determined to maintain ourselves in an isolationalist styled state. Maybe it’s something to do with living on an island too long!
    And if you do send books, include copies of Sagan’s Deamon Haunted World.

  4. Hmm, good book. Another excellent classic is Asimov’s Guide to Science.

  5. Nice one, just ordered it from Amazon.

  6. i guess they might not to allow anything dangerous into the plane and ship it via ferry etc., but what i don’t get is how this form could help… i mean there might be really small percentage of people that don’t quite get the fact that shipping nitric acid in glass bottle wrapped in packing paper is a bad idea even if they put “be careful, glass” sticker on it, but if someone already decided to ship something that is dangerous it can do that anyway – is not like one need to sign with his real name or anpost require identity proof when posting, or that all parcels are checked if they really contain described item

    a more reasonable way would be to inform about potential danger with pressurized containers, lithium batteries etc. instead of telling “your package must never contain any items which could be considered as dangerous or prohibited goods”, sharp pencil could be consider dangerous, so can be knife, but i really doubt that they meant to ban those…

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