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review 2018-06-17 16:54
The Science of Everyday Life
The Science of Everyday Life - Marty Jopson

I had started this book with the intention to comment on each chapter - or part, as each section contained smaller chapters on the various topics of the book - but as so often, I ended up finishing the book before I could summarise my notes for each part. 

 

I much enjoyed the buddy read of this with Murder by Death, who is infinitely more patient with books than I am. Unlike her, I am not just a bit biased by my admiration for Helen Czerski's Storm in a Teacup, I fully enjoyed - and have no regrets - about Storm in a Teacup spoiling Marty Jopson's attempt here at making science accessible to the general reader. 

It is not that The Science of Everyday Life was a bad book - it wasn't! - it is just that the brevity of descriptions and eclectic selection of topics really makes an entertaining introduction to science for people who think they don't like or want to know about science. I am just not Jopson's target reader here. (But I am, evidently, Czerski's target audience.)

For what it is, tho, Jopson does an excellent job at showing how science is the basis of everything around us - from the colour of autumn foliage to the workings of toothpaste to why sheep don't shrink in the rain (despite wearing woolly jumpers) and why people shrivel up in the bathtub.

Each topic is explained just briefly enough to gather interest but not leave you bored with pages and pages of explanation.

 

Again, I wish there had been more explanation and connection between the topics, but this was not in the scope of this book.

 

I should add, tho, that there was one chapter that left me baffled and criticising its content - the part about the boomerang did nothing for me. I could not follow the description of the experiment and could not understand the explanation that was offered for how a boomerang works. I had to google the answer and explanation here.

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text 2018-06-16 16:25
Relevant to the Baghdad Buddy Read!
They Came to Baghdad - Agatha Christie

A reminder about the buddy read planned for next week! The drinking and reading commences on 6/24/18!

 

And, on another note, a new Agatha Christie television adaptation has been announced - They Came To Baghdad! Link to article.

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review 2018-06-16 08:25
The Science of Everyday Life
The Science of Everyday Life - Marty Jopson

Upfront, this book suffers from my bias a bit:  I're previously read Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski.  Both books have the same goals, and both are effective and interesting, but Czerski's writes a more cohesive narrative and her writing is somehow more seductive: she makes physics seem magical.  Fortunately, there's very little overlap in what both books cover, so this was by no means a wasted effort.

 

BUT, if I'd read this first, I'd have rated it higher; it's a very good book and Jopson actually includes a lot more 'things' and the science behind them.  The chapters are divided by category:  Food and Drink, Home and Kitchen, Science Around the House, Science in the World and Science in the Wild.  I had favorites from each section, as I've mentioned in previous reading updates, but right now the one that sticks the most is why leaves turn colours in the autumn.  Turns out this is a very deliberate process and he explains it so clearly - I have a whole new outlook on all those yellow and orange leaves I raked up this morning.

 

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book - especially for readers who are interested in science but might find a running narrative challenging to their attention span - Jopson's explanations are all separated within each chapter, making it very easy to pick up and put down, or refer to for specific reasons (solid index at the back too) as a reference.

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text 2018-06-15 03:18
The Flat Book Society - 15 days until our July read begins!
The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions - Thomas McNamee

Just a reminder that our July read of The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions by Thomas McNamee begins in just two weeks. All are welcome, as always. 

 

Our feline companions are much-loved but often mysterious. In The Inner Life of Cats, Thomas McNamee blends scientific reportage with engaging, illustrative anecdotes about his own beloved cat, Augusta, to explore and illuminate the secrets and enigmas of her kind. As it begins, The Inner Life of Cats follows the development of the young Augusta while simultaneously explaining the basics of a kitten's physiological and psychological development. As the narrative progresses, McNamee also charts cats' evolution, explores a feral cat colony in Rome, tells the story of Augusta's life and adventures, and consults with behavioral experts, animal activists, and researchers, who will help readers more fully understand cats. McNamee shows that with deeper knowledge of cats' developmental phases and individual idiosyncrasies, we can do a better job of guiding cats' maturation and improving the quality of their lives. Readers' relationships with their feline friends will be happier and more harmonious because of this book.

 

Personally, Huggins and I are hoping this book will hold a magical solution for making Wasabi-cat mute between the hours of 10pm and 8am.  It's a doomed hope but miracles do happen...

 

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text 2018-06-15 03:13
The Flat Book Society: Reminder - List is open for September nominations - Vote for your favorites!
Unlocking the Past: How Archaeologists Are Rewriting Human History with Ancient DNA - Martin Jones
Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law - Peter Woit
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Matin Durrani,Liz Kalaugher
Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams - Matthew Walker
Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees - Thor Hanson

Just a reminder that our list is still open for voting for the September read.  We currently have 10 nominees (we aim to keep it at a max of 12-15) and the current leader with just 3 votes is:

 

Unlocking the Past: How Archaeologists Are Rewriting Human History with Ancient DNA - Martin Jones 

 

In Unlocking the Past, Martin Jones, [...] explains how this pioneering science is rewriting human history and unlocking stories of the past that could never have been told before. For the first time, the building blocks of ancient life—–DNA, proteins, and fats that have long been trapped in fossils and earth and rock—–have become widely accessible to science. Working at the cutting edge of genetic and other molecular technologies, researchers have been probing the remains of these ancient biomolecules in human skeletons, sediments and fossilized plants, dinosaur bones, and insects trapped in amber. Their amazing discoveries have influenced the archaeological debate at almost every level and continue to reshape our understanding of the past.

 

In contention are 4 others with 2 votes each are (as listed above):

Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law - Peter Woit 

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Matin Durrani,Liz Kalaugher 

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams - Matthew Walker 

Buzz: The Nature and Necessity of Bees - Thor Hanson 

 

Be sure to get over to the Flat Book Society and vote if you haven't already, and if you have a dark horse entry, we still have a few spaces to fill.  If you're not a member already, it's never too late to join!

 

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