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Why Can't Elephants Jump?: And 113 Other Tantalizing Science Questions Answered [Kindle Edition]

2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

From the editors that brought you Why Don’t Penguin’s Feet Freeze? and Do Sparrows Like Bach?,an exploration of the weird and wonderful margins of science—the latest in brilliant New Scientist series
What’s the storage capacity of the human brain in gigabytes? Why is frozen milk yellow? Why do flamingos stand on one leg? And why can’t elephant’s jump? Is it because elephants are too large or heavy (after all, they say hippos and rhinos can play hopscotch)? Or is it because their knees face the wrong way? Or do they just wait until no one’s looking? Read this brilliant new compilation to find out. This is popular science at its most absorbing and enjoyable.
The previous titles in the New Scientist series have been international bestsellers and sold over two million copies between them and here is another wonderful collection of wise, witty, and often surprising answers to a staggering range of science questions.

Editorial Reviews


Praise for Do Sparrows Like Bach?
“The editors at New Scientist magazine are at it again, illuminating the wacky side of science and scientists. This time the organizing principle is the remarkable ingenuity shown by hard-working scientists, ingenuity that sometimes verges on, well, craziness. A deeply fascinating and occasionally rib-tickling book.”—Booklist

About the Author

New Scientist magazine was launched in 1956 “for all those men and women who are interested in scientific discovery, and in its industrial, commercial and social consequences.” The magazine’s mission is no different today—New Scientist reports, explores, and interprets the results of human endeavor set in the context of society and culture. receives fourteen million hits a month with over three million unique users.

Product Details

  • File Size: 521 KB
  • Print Length: 244 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus Books (November 8, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005LW2IMA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #861,304 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

2.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasing book but the wittiness is gone October 29, 2010
This slim book is a collection of readers questions and answers from the New Scientist. Readers mostly ask simple questions related to everyday observations, while the answers are often surprisingly complex and reveal how little we actually understand of the world around us.
This is a pleasing enough little book, but my impression is that the best questions and answers have gone into earlier books from this series and we find here the duller examples.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars "Science" January 16, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
What a piece of junk. At least the title is correct "tantalizing science questions". If they described the answers as "tantalizing" or "science" it would be a complete lie.

The book reads like you are browsing an internet forum (because that's all this is an internet forum turned into a book), complete with unqualified strangers dropping in to make unscientific answers to the questions. Every answer is taken at face value with no regard to the scientific method and every regard to "in my experience", "a friend told me", etc.

Most of the time the question isn't even answered, just some e-nerd ranting about a semi-related subject but avoiding the actual question. Even when it is answered, the next answer directly contradicts the first answer so you are left worse off than when you started.

I bought this book as a bathroom book, just something to read for fun when I had some downtime in my day. It didn't even work in that role.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I liked it, but one serious flaw December 21, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is one of my favorite types of book- short, brief articles with a question and answer format on science, engineering or technical topics.

The Good Stuff:

* The questions are all over the map and have a nice variety. Everything from monkeys holding hands to the technology of a ball point pen.

* On those questions where I already knew the answer, the book's information seemed accurate and reliable. All the other answers given seemed plausible, although I didn't verify any of them.

* There is some reasonable level of organization, with topics broadly grouped by category.

* The book includes a fairly comprehensive index, so you have a good chance of finding a particular article or topic.

The Not-So-Good Stuff

* The style of many of the articles is a bit dry. Those of you familiar with "The Straight Dope" format will be disappointed (or relieved) to find none of the humor or snarky comments that made Cecil Adams an American tradition.

* Sources: This is my biggest problem with the book. For a great many of the articles, you do not know the qualifications of the author of the response. In some cases, the author will be identified by affiliation- (e.g. Simon Iverson, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia). OK, Simon may be the janitor in the department, but there is some level of credibility of the man's credentials.

Most of the responses however have sources with no affiliation (e.g. Simon Langley, West Yorkshire, UK). Not to cast any aspersions on Mr. Langley, but how do I know that he has any real expertise on Bic ballpoint pens and is not just giving us an opinion?
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3.0 out of 5 stars Better options for answers April 21, 2012
Being a trivia buff, I'm always drawn to books with questions like these. This one is unique in that it is a compilation of questions from real readers of New Scientist magazine and the answers are given by readers as well (hopefully, ones who know something about the topic). I love the range of inquiries over everything from bodily functions to space travel. But, the informality (and sometimes incongruity) of the answers makes me lack confidence in their validity, and more than once I found myself questioning the purpose of even reading it because of that. I think I would have rather the editors had taken it one step further and instead of publishing the exact letters received for the answers, to sum up the best answers as they see them. It began to become tedious to read 2 or 3 answers to each question. It would have been nice to include imperial versions of the metric units given in the answers for all the American readers who aren't as familiar with meters and Celsius - I'm a scientist and I still had to pause and try to put things into perspective.
Overall, an informative and sometimes entertaining book, but I prefer the more succinct style of the similar books such as Why Do Men Have Nipples? and When Do Fish Sleep?.
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