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Frozen feet couldn't warm my interest.
Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?: And 114 Other Questions
Member Name: ButterBear
Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?: And 114 Other Questions
Date: 16/04/08, updated on 17/04/08 (102 review reads)
Advantages: Collection of 115 different questions you may find interesting
Disadvantages: Too many answers based on opinion
I was looking for a little light reading recently to help me pass half an hour or so, as I skimmed my bookshelf I passed my usual favourites from the Dragonlance series of fantasy novels, passed all my mythological books and even my trashy romance novels and eventually settled on "Why don't penguins feet freeze" it seemed the perfect book to pass the time, not requiring me to dedicate myself to a whole novel or become too involved in plots or with characters. The book is a collection of questions brought together by the people at The New Scientist, a science based magazine and website, submitted by the general public and answered by a range of different specialists and experts. The question of penguins' feet is just one of 115 different questions which are broken down into 9 "chapters" or subject matters, addressing topics from our bodies to transport, the planet to food and drink.
Each question is headed by a relevant title and then answered underneath by 1 or more experts, the answers may vary and many seem based on opinion of the individuals rather than actual scientific experiment or anything actually proven, I found this a bit disappointing as I had imagined the questions would be answered with definitive knowledge, that some testing or research would have been carried out to be able to prove the theories, instead the varied answers left me feeling like I was reading forum posts on a website or taking part in a Yahoo Answers session and that few of the questions were ever really answered and could be quoted as truth, I could have asked any Dooyoo member, any Facebook member, any person from my family or friends and received similar twists on the theories provided as answers.
I had also imagined a slightly more humorous feel to the book and while some of the questions take a more light hearted almost childish approach to the questioning, for example the subject of why is mucous green, some of them left me feeling a bit over loaded and bored, why someone would ask for an analysis of the chemical elements that make up a human being, and what the same formula would be for aliens, is beyond me and even worse is the fact that the editors actually thought the readers would be interested in the answers or that we may be able to get some use out of this knowledge in our day to day lives, while we all like a little pointless information quoting formulas of atoms and their composition is not something that regularly takes place down the pub. While I did feel like I'd come away from the book with a few strange little facts, such as rats brains being smooth instead of textured like human brains or that the fact of the great wall of China being seen from space actually just being a myth, I didn't feel like the book gripped me enough to want to return to it to finish reading it or to read it for a second time.
Often the questions simply do not need the volume of answers they received, one on the issue of sheep running in front of cars instead of veering off to the side received 4 answers, one of which just seemed to be a joke answer claiming sheep understand human psychology and know that drivers will not deliberately try to run them down, maybe sheep do have psychology PHD's but I doubt it. Another question relating to boiling water once or twice for best results in tea/coffee making received a staggering 9 answers which is totally unnecessary and a select handful of those 9 would have been sufficient, instead of including such a vast amount of answers they could have included a more interesting selection of additional questions. Many of the questions can be more definitely answered by simply looking online and while I know that many people won't have access to the internet there are a whole wealth of encyclopaedias available, there are libraries full of books which could approach the topics in a more interesting and accurate light.
The book is quite easy to read and well laid out, I got about half way through it's 232 pages in about half an hour which goes to show it's not exactly challenging, it served it's purpose of helping me pass the time but was simply not interesting enough to keep me entertained and I came away from it feeling rather disappointed. I wouldn't recommend it, even to those who love their strange facts and pointless information, I've sat happily and read Guinness world record books, Ripleys Believe It Or Not books and a wealth of other similar fact based books and found every one of them far more entertaining and educational then this one. With a RRP of £7.99, being available from major book stores, I would certainly recommend you try and borrow a copy or pick it up cheap online if you absolutely have to read it.
And as for the question of penguins feet not freezing, well you'll have to research that yourself, I couldn't possibly give away the plot!
Summary: I wont be returning to this one and don't recommend it.
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