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My husband absolutely loves little books of facts and I'm constantly on the look out for books that I think he will like. I'm quite the opposite and while I like the odd fact now and then, I much prefer to read a story, however, recently, my new pre-order novel from Amazon hadn't arrived and looking through the bookcase the only books I hadn't read were my husbands. I decided to give this one a try, mainly because I'm a girl and was intrigued whether or not polar boys do actually get lonely (or maybe I'm just weird!)! I took this book to bed with me and rather than tucking myself up and digging my nose into a novel, I filled myself full of intriguing science questions instead!
This book was published by New Scientist Magazine and gave the facts authenticity allowing you to believe the facts. New Scientist has a 'Last Word' column which offers readers the opportunity to provide questions from readers and also allow readers to answer the questions. The book offers 'another dazzling mixture of serious enquiry, brilliant insight and the hilariously unexpected'. This book is the third in the collection of the 'Last Word' column following Does Anything Eat Wasps and Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?
Each question has roughly a page to provide its answer and at the end of the answer is the name and the location of the contributor and in some cases (perhaps to provide validity to their answer) their job such as 'Senior Lecturer in Engineering at Cambridge University - In this case the lecturer had provided quite a complex but seemingly accurate answer as to how much force would be required to stop the Earth from spinning!
The questions range from the serious to the strange quite quickly and you can have Why do some flowers close at night? What is the evolutionary advantage if doing this and why do only some plants bother to do so? Immediately followed by How long would it take an average cow to fill the Grand Canyon with milk? A question which I'm sure plays on the mind of all of us (!?).
The book divides questions into 9 sections and the sections include:
Food and drink
Plants and animals
Our planet, our universe
Best of the rest
My absolute favourite question is the very last in the book and causes a few different answers. Just to get your mind thinking, the question is: I have 2 parents, 4 grandparents and so on. If I drew a family tree going back 10 generations, I would expect to see a line of 1024 ancestors. At 30 generations I would expect to see a line of over a billion ancestors. If I tried to research my family back 40 generations (about 100 years) I would be searching for the names of vastly more people than have ever lived. This is impossible of course, so what is wrong with my reasoning?
I love this question as it is in my opinion exactly what the whole book is about - different ideas and contradictions in thoughts among readers. This really is a fascinating book and while some questions may not interest you in the slightest, on the next page you may find a question which you have always wondered about too, and the answer will be there for you! Filled with seriousness, giggle and lots of opportunity to get you thinking!
I picked this up in a pound shop for you guessed it - a £1, but you can pick this up for £5.39 from Amazon for the paperback version or £2.69 for the Kindle edition. The RRP is £7.99.
For those who don't want to commit to reading a full length book and prefer to just dip your toes into a great read whenever you fancy, this book is for you!
The book is composed of hundreds of weird questions presented to anyone in the world to answer. The best ones are then compiled in this book. Topics covered range from the human body to the weather, and even some mind boggling physics/space questions. Thanks to this you can basically sit down for 10minutes and pick a random page to open and have a good read without feeling commited.
I'm desperately trying to think of some bad points about this book, but honestly apart from a few less interesting questions than others, I can't find any!
If you want a book that will have you laughing, intrigued and making you feel smart infront of your friends, then this is a must buy!
I've developed a little bit of interest in science in the last few months, mainly as a result of dating a physics geek and him often mentioning things that interest me . So, I've been started buying a few books from Amazon that offer approachable science for the non-scientific person. I've already reviewed How to Fossilize your Hamster, which was also published by New Scientist Magazine.
This book though, rather than being experiments that could be easily and safely performed at home , is a compilation of questions asked by readers of New Scientist magazine in their 'last word' column, and the answers provided by other readers -some of whom are scientists themselves, but many of whom are just ordinary people .
There are 102 questions asked in this book - some very simple, some incredibly complicated. Each question displays one or two answers (although some have clearly raised a hot topic and have many more) and generally covers a page or two . Many answers are serious , and most are easy to understand (bearing in mind I talk from the perspective of only having a very basic understanding of science) although one or two get a little wordy and had me reaching for a dictionary .
Examples of questions asked range from the relatively simple ...
Why does red wine become lighter as it ages, whereas white wine becomes darker ?
What is the worlds largest possible raindrop ?
Do horses get motion sickness ?
... to the slightly more elaborate :
Could hamster power be a valid solution to the impending energy crisis ?
How many hamsters running on wheels would it take to fuel a house, or a factory.
Answers are mostly serious, but there is the occasional humerous one thrown in which raises a giggle, and overall the book is very enjoyable . For me, I found it a book best read in small chunks - I'd probably read one or two questions and answers at a time, before sitting and thinking about them .
Overall, I enjoyed the book very much - I've learned a little (for example that horses are incapable of vomiting) , giggled quite a lot, and spent time imagining some of the situations described . I'd recommend this to anyone with an interest in the lighter end of science, and with a cover price of 7.99 (although its cheaper on amazon at 4.12) its good value for money .