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Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?: And 114 Other Questions Paperback – June 5, 2007
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
A sequel of sorts to the bestselling Does Anything Eat Wasps?, this compilation of readers' questions and answers published in "The Last Word" column of New Scientist Magazine prove there really is no such thing as a stupid question: reader questions "Why is nasal mucus often green?"; "Why doesn't superglue stick to the inside of its tube?"; "Why is red meat red and white meat white?"; and "What time is it at the North Pole?" all draw serious consideration from their fellow readers, as well as personal stories, myths, jokes and even a poem (on why the sea is salty). Readers will learn that helium atoms are small enough to diffuse through the elastic material of a balloon, which is why balloons deflate; they'll also learn how to hypnotize a mynah bird and why "fish don't fart"; the conflagration of trivia, knowledge, anecdote and humor should entertain just about anyone.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The latest collection of "Last Words" columns from New Scientist magazine, in which experts in various fields responds to readers' questions, is entertaining and enlightening. Sorted into several categories--"Our Bodies," "Weird Weather," etc.--the questions deal mainly with everyday matters. Why do we sneeze when we emerge from the shade into the light? (Theories vary.) Why do our knuckles make that sound when we crack them? (Bubbles of nitrogen gas popping in the joints.) Why do we cry when we slice an onion? (Amino acids are released into the air, acting as an irritant.) We learn a lot of interesting stuff, and it's surprising how many common questions have no definitive answer: for example, hot water either does or does not freeze faster than cold water, depending on whom you listen to. Trivia nuts, especially fans of the earlier book Does Anything Eat Wasps? (2006),not to mention David Feldman's long-running Imponderables series, will eat this one up. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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This book consists of nine chapters covering our bodies, feeling OK, plants and animals, food and drink, domestic science, our planet and universe, weird weather, troublesome transport and, for questions that don't fit easily into any of those categories, best of the rest. Note that these chapter headings are slightly different from the previous volume. Two new ones (feeling OK, food and drink) have been added while our planet and universe are combined in one chapter here.
The question that gives the book its title provoked some very good answers explaining how penguins cope with life in the Antarctic, but there`s a more interesting (at least to me) penguin question elsewhere in the book. If polar bears and penguins swapped places, could they survive. The answer seems to be that polar bears would survive in the Antarctic but they would devastate the eco-system and penguins would be particularly vulnerable. Penguins might be capable of surviving in those parts of the Arctic where there are no polar bears, but there's another species that would make their life difficult - us. Attempts to establish northern penguin colonies have failed because people couldn't co-exist with them.
Another question that particularly grabbed my attention was what the time is at the North pole. It sounds easy but of course it isn't, since the pole is on Earth's axis and therefore not in any particular time zone. A variety of answers are supplied, some serious, some not. One of the serious answers explains how it would be possible, using astronomy, to set up some kind of clock, summing that you didn't take a clock or watch with you. One of the less serious answers points out that Father Christmas lives there and, it being in no particular time zone, explains how he is able to deliver all his presents so quickly. Another answer suggests that the North Pole is the true spiritual home of all politicians, because the time can be whatever you want.
The variety of the questions asked and the answers provided is incredible, although I confess that I wouldn't have actually considered asking most of these questions. While this book provides very informative answers, I suspect that you'll have most fun with it if you share it with family and friends.
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by the way if you have not read that book