From Publishers Weekly
Science is a way of life more than a set of answers, according to Fisher, an English physical chemist and Ig Nobel Prize winner. In his delightful book, he uses " `the science of the familiar' as a key to open a door to science, to show what it feels like to be a scientist, and to view from an insider's perspective what scientists do, why they do it, and how they go about it." Each of his nine chapters focuses on relatively mundane affairs-the best way to dunk a doughnut, how to catch a fly ball, how simple tools function, how to throw a boomerang, how an egg and a sperm manage to unite to form a new life-and each poses scientific questions about the underlying premises and principles involved. Real scientific lessons are embedded in each chapter (Fisher nicely explains the three laws of thermodynamics, for example, as well as the difference between heat and temperature), and the thoroughly engaging anecdotes serve to bring the process of science and the people who conduct scientific investigations to life. He successfully shows how science influences all aspects of our lives and how the "consequences of any particular scientific discovery are often not obvious, even to the discoverer." This view is increasingly important as politicians regularly favor applied research over the pure research so essential for meaningful progress. Fisher's humor and readability could go a long way toward making his perspective acceptable to a wide public. 70 illus., and charts. Scientific American Book Club alternate selection.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In this vastly entertaining and informative book, the author, winner of a 1999 IgNobel Prize for his exploration into the physics of cookie dunking, expands his cutting-edge research by tackling a structure of infinitely more complexity. Well, not exactly. The IgNobels are those spoof awards handed out every year at Harvard, and there ain't much cutting edge about food dunking. But don't let that make you think this is one of those silly books with no real informational value. Fisher, a research fellow at the University of Bristol, has a lot of fascinating things to say about what we do every day. He shows what our supermarket bills reveal about numerical patterns and about the way we see those patterns. He approaches catching a ball as a split-second, problem-solving exercise. He reveals the physics of foam. And he does it all with clarity, wit, and the bare minimum of mathematical equations. This book is just a lot of fun. Oh, and how to dunk a doughnut? On an angle; it's better than straight in. David PittCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved