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Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?: And 114 Other Questions Paperback – Bargain Price, June 5, 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

From Booklist

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Original edition (June 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416541462
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416541462
  • ASIN: B00150B2EM
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,228,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian Kodi VINE VOICE on December 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
I'm not sure why there is so much excitement about this book. I've never read the "New Scientist", but I assumed the answers provided by the readers from the questions posed by the readers were well researched and/or with scientific merit. After reading the first 2-3 pages of the book, I quickly realized this was not the case. In many cases there were multiple answers to questions, and sometimes the responses were contradicting.

Here is an example of a question from page 4:

Question: ... people tend to sneeze when they go from dark conditions into very bright light. What is the reason for this?

Response summaries (paraphrasing where there are no quotes):

1. "Photons get up your nose!"

My comment: Very eloquent and thoughtful.

2. The warming of the air under the nostrils cause an upward movement of dust particles and hair fibres, and within seconds, sneezing occurs.

My comment: Anyone who has this condition knows that sneezing can occur instantly after the eyes are exposed to sunlight. Further, sneezing is possible by looking at artificial light, which provides no warming of the air from a distance.

3. This condition is evolutionary and gives the "sunsneezers" an advantage in added protection from harmful sunrays resulting from the depletion of the ozone layer.

My comment: The depletion of the ozone layer is a recent phenomenon. Genetic mutations resulting in improved functionality would take much longer than the time it has taken for ozone depletion to develop.

4. "...The sneeze occurs because the protective reflexes of the eyes and nose are closely linked. Likewise, when we sneeze our eyes close and also water....
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Format: Paperback
Bought this after seeing it paired with PETER CAVE'S CAN A ROBOT BE HUMAN?
2 really good books geared to getting you thinking in an enjoyable way. Just don't accept things -we need the reason why! I do recommend buying them together as they use your brain in a different sort of way and Cave's book made me laugh as well!
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Format: Paperback
This sequel stands out from its predecessor Does Anything Eat Wasps for one reason. There is a very realistic little drawing of an emperor penguin in the top right corner of the page. The penguin is has just hooked a fish and has it on the end of a fishing line that reaches the bottom of the page on page one. One each subsequent page the drawing is slightly altered so as you flip through the penguin firstly reels in the fish, the throws it up in the air, tilts its head back, opens its mouth and eats it. This is very clever, very well done and worth the price of the book alone.

Anyway the main emphasis of this book, like Does Anything Eat Wasps is a collection of 115 questions pondered by readers of New Scientist magazine, published in their popular Last Word column. This column sort of works like a hard copy version of an online discussion board where other readers write in with the answer to the question. Obviously a lot of readers of Newscientist are experts in a particular field or another but not all of them are and the so called experts also disagree with each other. There are also some funny answers by people who obviously have no idea but want to add something anyway. Such as one of the answers to Why Do Sheep Run Away in a Straight Line In Front of a Vehicle Down the Road Rather Than to the Side of the Road being because sheep know human psychology they know with bloodlust its harder to run down an animal than just hit it. Likewise someone answers why birds void themselves on you from a great height is because lower isn't much of a challenge!

The only disappointing thing about this book is that it doesn't indicate which is the correct answer, the book needs little symbols or something with correct, wrong or we haven't verified this answer yet.
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Comment 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
The New Scientist magazine started something bigger than they expected when they began the 'Last Word' column. It's a column where anything goes. Some of the questions covered: Why are left-handers at greater risk of accidental death? Should you pickle your conkers? (after all this is an English book) How do ants survive in the microwave? If you were in a free-falling elevator, would jumping before you hit the ground help? This book follows the wildly successful 'Does Anything Eat Wasps?' that was issued last year at just about Christmas time. It is, as the book says, 'science for the beople, by the people, a celebration of the trivial, idiosyncratic, baffling and strange.' Besides that, it's a great bathroom book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great addition to New Scientist's set of scientific inquiry books. Full of answers to questions I've posed to myself while bored and some I wasn't creative enough to think of alone, I thoroughly enjoyed reading a few entries in the book each night before going to bed. The editors have done a good job of parsing through the debate surrounding some questions and provide mostly fair and complete answers. There is a thread of humor throughout the book that can almost go unnoticed, but you're bound to find yourself smiling sometimes whether you know it or not. I recommend this book to anyone with a sense of humor and inquiring mind.
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