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review 2019-04-05 02:42
Furry Logic by Matin Durrani & Liz Kalaugher (Abandoned)
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher,Matin Durrani

Abandoned at 85% (page 249 of 294).

 

Thinking about this book makes me angry. Trying to read it made me even angrier, so I'm not going to bother with the rest of it even though it's less than 50 pages.

 

The interesting things about animals mentioned in this book could be fit on maybe five pages; the rest is filler. Or I should say that the things that could be interesting would fit on that many pages because the authors made none of it interesting. The authors didn't write any of their arguments clearly; I had to wade through paragraphs and sometimes pages of inanities before they got to their point. By then I just didn't care. They also dumbed their explanations down to the point that I couldn't really follow them; I was too bored to attend to the page.

 

I can't believe I wasted time on this. If I had bought this book instead of taking it out from the library I'd be tempted to set it on fire.

 

Previous updates:

15 of 294 pages (I didn't think I'd hate it, apparently)

70 of 294 pages (chattiness hadn't improved)

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text 2019-04-03 17:37
Reading progress update: I've read 191 out of 304 pages.
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher,Matin Durrani

 

Lobster noises--of course they make noise!

 

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review 2019-03-31 21:29
A bit on the fluffy side ...
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher,Matin Durrani

... but I'm at the point where I basically celebrate any Flat Book Society group read that actually makes a serious effort to deliver (popular) science content without authorial grandstanding, fashion commentary and similar distractions -- and notwithstanding a few silly jokes too many, this book certainly does accomplish that.

 

Not all of the examples given were new to me, but plenty of them certainly were; and while I would have appreciated a few more diagrams here and there, generally the authors' explanations are easy enough to follow.  As a result of reading this book, my appreciation of our fellow creatures on this earth has certainly grown yet again -- and I also found myself nodding along with this passage from the concluding chapter:

"It is mere convention to talk about biology and physics as if they're unrelated; they're just labels we give to different ways of looking at nature.  Convenient, but not necessarily helpful.  Dividing physicists and biologists -- making them go to separate classes and learn different subjects -- stifles progress.  Each camp ends up speaking a different language: to a physicist, a nucleus is a collection of particles at the heart of an atom; to a biologists, it's a structure at the heart of a cell that contains genes.

 

Many physicists are guilty of believing that everything reduces to physics.  What is an animal, they will say, other than a collection of atoms and molecules made of electrons, neutrons and protons, themselves composed of quarks and gluons?  That's true, but it only gets you so far.  Though we use the movement of air molecules to explain how peacocks create infrasound, we won't know why they make those noises unless we study their mating habits.  The world's a complicated place that can't always be boiled down to physics; and that's without even mentioning animal genetics, neuroscience or physiology."

Hell, yes.  There should be more interdisciplinary learning and scholarly exchange -- and I'd wager to many a student it would make a huge difference, too, not only to learn about the laws of physics in the abstract (or by way of lab experiments) but also to understand where those laws find application in the world surrounding us, in animal life and beyond.

 

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text 2019-03-28 16:48
Reading progress update: I've read 159 out of 304 pages.
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher,Matin Durrani

 

 

I didn't know that peacocks use infrasound to attract peahens.  Cool.

 

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review 2019-03-27 09:46
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher,Matin Durrani

Well, I finished it, and I got lousy about doing status updates, but it's all Chapter 3s fault:  the bit about cats drinking water had me wanting to post an Easter-cat video of her drinking from the tap/faucet in slow motion.  But apparently BookLikes doesn't like embedding any video that isn't YouTube and I don't want to create a freaking YouTube account just so I can post a video of Easter-cat showing the physicists how it's done.  So I had a minor hissy fit and sulked for the remaining three chapters.

 

Be thankful I didn't take my suspicions about the time it takes mammals to urinate any further, is all I'm saying.

 

I found the section about elephants in chapter 4 both interesting and tense - thumbs down to the authors for trying to inject suspense in the narrative at the expense of a baby elephant.  TOTAL SPOILER ALERT:  he's fine - happy ending.  Take that Durrani and Kalaugher.  The parts about the bats and the snakes I sort of knew already, although the level of detail built on the basic, working knowledge I had on both.  

 

Chapter 5 found me mostly feeling sorry for the eels.  The whole tone of that section felt very old-school, let's torture them for Science! - I don't think that's the attitude of the authors themselves, but by the end of it, yeah, I mostly just felt really bad for the eels.  Though I love the bit about Miguel Wattson at the Tennessee Aquarium (which is brilliantly done, by the way - genius - and I highly recommend taking the time to visit if you're ever in Chattanooga).  The section about the bees detecting electrical fields around flowers was something I'd read elsewhere recently, but I loved the information about the Loggerheads. The authors focused on the East Coast of Florida, but my West Coast home (far superior side of the state, in my opinion) beaches are also popular and busy nesting spots for these majestic creatures and it's the normal way of things to see roped off squares of beach during the nesting season.  Seeing the females come up the beach is an awesome experience.

 

Chapter 6 had me at the start, but then started losing me in all the descriptions of mathematical equations and formulas.  It rallied briefly with the triggerfish, because they're both awesome and native to Australia, which means, unlike the red garter snakes in Canada, I have an outside chance of seeing a small fish shoot bugs out of the air in the wild.  Just imagine if I stumbled across a whole school of them on a particularly buggy morning; it'd be like mother nature's own Bellagio!

 

The final question about whether animals really know they're using physics was answered, I think, perfectly.  Most humans don't know they're using physics every day; Beckham just bends it and doesn't think about how.  But I do take exception to the backwards way they approach animal intelligence.  We don't know how intelligent animals are, but our default answer is the obvious confirmation biased one.  Given the state of the planet, I'm not at all sure the bees and ants don't have it all going on over us. They've both managed to colonise the planet without burning it down, after all.

 

Mostly, I enjoyed the book; I liked the angle they authors took to bring physics to the everyday world, and make the reader consider just how much we're all beholden to the laws of the universe.  The humor mostly fell flat for me, but I appreciated the effort.

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