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Radar, Hula Hoops, and Playful Pigs: 67 Digestible Commentaries on the Fascinating Chemistry of Everyday Life Paperback – August 30, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0805074079 ISBN-10: 0805074074

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Radar, Hula Hoops, and Playful Pigs: 67 Digestible Commentaries on the Fascinating Chemistry of Everyday Life + The Genie in the Bottle: 67 All-New Commentaries on the Fascinating Chemistry of Everyday Life + That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles: 62 All-New Commentaries on the Fascinating Chemistry of Everyday Life
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (August 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805074074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805074079
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #830,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Joe Schwarcz has mastered the art of science education as an attention-holding and rewarding experience. In this book he provides a great read, a book you will not want to put down. You will learn a great deal about the world around us while being compelled to read on—it’s an educator’s dream!"
—Kelvin G. Ogilvie, President, Acadia University

"It is hard to believe that anybody could be drawn to such a dull and smelly subject as chemistry—until, that is, one picks up Joe Schwarcz’s book and is reminded that with every breath and feeling one is experiencing chemistry. Falling in love, we all know, is a matter of the right chemistry. Schwarcz gets his chemistry right, and hooks his readers."
—John C. Polanyi, Nobel Laureate

"Joe Schwarcz’s magic is in convincing us that there is verve and value in real chemistry."
—Roald Hoffman, Nobel Laureate

"Dr. Schwarcz has written a book that is enormously enjoyable—it commands and holds your attention. It explains science and scientific phenomena in a simple and accurate way while stimulating logical thinking. It will lead to a scientifically literate reader who will not be so easily misled by those who wish to paint science and technology as being a danger to humankind."
—Michael Smith, Nobel Laureate

About the Author

Dr. Joe Schwarcz is a professor of chemistry and the Director of the Office for Chemistry and Society at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He hosts a weekly phone-in radio show, is a regular on Canadian television, gives numerous public lectures, regularly contributes feature stories to the Washington Post, and writes a weekly column for the Montreal Gazette. He has received many honors, including the prestigious American Chemical Society’s Grady-Stack Award for Interpreting Chemistry for the Public. "Dr. Joe" lives in Montreal.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 12 customer reviews
This is a great collection of true stories and anecdotes about science throughout history.
R. Silva
Surprisingly, a book about science that is unbiased, very informative and an easy and enjoyable read!
Robin
The book can be picked up and read from any point, and you'll still learn something interesting.
Craig MACKINNON

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Craig MACKINNON on November 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
Dr. Schwarcz is well-known throughout Canada (and especially, the University of McGill in Montreal) as being the consummate chemistry lecturer. His courses are filled with anecdotes, demonstrations, and humour. He has translated his infectious interest in chemistry to the written word, and the result is a fascinating book that you will enjoy reading, and likely refer to again and again when someone asks, "I wonder why....?" As the title promises, the book is a series of short anecdotes about a variety of chemical subjects. For example, the titular "radar, hula hoops, and playful pigs" gives the connection between these three items (airborne radar, hula hoops, and pig playtoys are all made from the same polymer). The majority of the essays revolve around health, probably reflecting both the author's training (as a carbohydrate chemist) and society's bias.
Schwarcz has two underlying, scientific themes. Science in general, and chemistry in particular, is neither good nor evil - it's the context/use of chemistry that gives a moral distinction. Likewise, chemical effects are generally driven by amount - arsenic is not poisonous in low enough concentrations, while water is deadly under certain conditions (if inhaled, for example). The second point is to make the reader a skeptical consumer. He gives numerous examples of good science vs. bad science - a product trotting out "testimonials" is not evidence that it will work in all cases (or even in the majority of cases!). That's not to say the book gets bogged down in details. His writing style is sharp, witty, and concise. The book can be picked up and read from any point, and you'll still learn something interesting.
I am a chemist, and can assure the chemists considering this book that the science is accurate.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Don Platt on May 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
The sub-title says it right: "Digestible Commentaries." The writing style is informative, entertaining and always illuminating. The narratives on diet, in particular, are very applicable to daily life. He does an excellent job of debunking the myths of "chemical content" in our lives and consistently makes the point that "chemical" is not a dirty word! A great and easy read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Robin on July 31, 2004
Format: Paperback
Surprisingly, a book about science that is unbiased, very informative and an easy and enjoyable read! I would most definitely recommend this book to anybody with an interest in not just science and chemistry but also to those who wonder how modern society got to where it is. You'll find information about everyday items found around the house and in the workplace that is insightful, interesting and applicable to everybody. Not to mention the added bonus of being able to surprise your acquaintances with fascinating small talk! A surefire pleasing read for anyone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ----neal M. Shaw on August 5, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is perfect for anyone interested in how various products were developed, health aspects of chemistry, or the history of various chemical discoveries. As a high school science teacher I am always looking for anecdotes regarding various science topics. This is perfect!! Lots of fun!
Thanks Joe.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Wiatr on December 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
I've read several books by this author, and I'm always impressed by his way of making chemistry (a subject I never understood in school) interesting and fun. This book did not disappoint--it was as good as his other books. You don't have to read this book in one sitting, either. I tend to read a chapter a night, and since each section is on a different topic, I don't feel like I've lost my place.
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Format: Paperback
I love this book! I can't wait to read the sequel! Dr. Schwarcz has a way of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary, and making you actually care about chemistry. His secret is that instead of lecturing about chemistry for chemistry's sake, he uses chemistry to make sense of the nagging little questions of everyday life (Why is shampoo so foamy? Why does skunk smell come back the day after you wash it off your dog?). He also brings to light the people behind chemical discoveries, and has a knack for showing how their personal quirks led them to discoveries that changed the world. If you like chemistry, you will like this book. If you HATE chemistry (like I do) you will love this book!
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