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review 2018-04-07 18:26
Furry Logic by Matin Durrani & Liz Kalaugher
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Matin Durrani,Liz Kalaugher

TITLE:  Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life

 

AUTHOR:  Matin Durrani & Liz Kalaugher

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2017

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  978-1-4729-1411-8

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Furry Logic is an interesting book that takes a look at the physics concepts used by a  large variety of animal life for survival.  The writing style is informal, chatty and whitty. Some of the puns and jokes were just awful, but most led to snickers or laughs, so I can't complain about them too much.  While the authors do not go into a great deal of depth with their scientific explanations, the explanations are comprehensive enough to understand the concept.  This is a fun, fast paced, fascinating and informative book, especially for the non-physicist and non-biologist.  This book is divided into 6 chapters that show how animals make use of physics in terms of heat, forces, fluids, sound, electricity, magnetis and light.  

 

The book covers such topics as flight, how cats drink, heat detection in snakes, the Komodo Dragon's bite, the electric field of flowers and how they attract bees, the sounds of peacocks and how elephants detect sound through the ground, how some animals use polarized light or magnetic fields to determine direction, how electric eels produce their electricity, how pondskaters skate on water, how geckos walk on ceilings, how the Harlequin Mantis Shrimp punches through crap shells (and aquarium tanks), how well mosquitos fly in the rain, why dogs shake themselves dry, why giant squid have such large eyes, and many more. 

 

The book includes a section of colour photographs and has a few illustrations to explain concepts spread throughout the book.  Unfortunately, the book did not contain a list of references or a bibliography, which is a bit strange for a science book!

 

 

Furry Logic Website

 

Internet Review and Excerpts

 

 

OTHER BOOKS

 

-Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life by Helen Czerski

-Restless Creatures: The Story of Life in Ten Movements by Matt Wilkinson

-The Gecko’s Foot: How Scientists are Taking a Leaf from Nature's Book by Peter Forbes

-What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins by Jonathan Balcombe

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review 2018-03-26 10:23
GRAPHENE by Les Johnson & Joseph E. Meany
Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World - Les Johnson,Joseph E. Meany

TITLE:  Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World

 

AUTHOR:  Les Johnson  & Joseph E. Meany 

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2018

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9781633883253

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Graphene by Johnson and Meany provides an extensive, and interesting, overview of a potential new material that could revolutionise daily life. This substance is graphene: a flat, two-dimensional, carbon-based molecule with a single sheet measuring only one atom thick.

This book is divided into sections that cover the history of graphene discovery/ development; its unique physical and electrical properties; the problems in large-scale manufacture of the substance for commerical use; its variety of potential uses that would transform everyday life; and the unknown potential health risks of graphene. The potential uses of graphene include enhancing and increasing the efficiency of solar panels, batteries, electrical conduction, computers, medical equipment and other electronic items; additions to paint and concrete to provide additional strength and waterproofing; its uses in "smart" clothing etc.

This book is particularly dense in science, with a bit of history, economics and humour thrown in. The science however is nothing more complicated than what one would come across in a highschool science class i.e. electrons and atoms are mentioned. The book is written in an accessible style that was a joy to read.

 

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review 2018-01-15 06:55
The Science of Everyday Life by Len Fisher
The Science of Everyday Life: An Entertaining and Enlightening Examination of Everything We Do and Everything We See - Len Fisher

In this book, Len Fisher discusses the science of "everyday life", covering such topics as:  dunking cookies in coffee; boiling eggs; the physics of tools; adding up supermarket bulls; the physics of boomerang throwing; ball catching in baseball; foam; taste and aroma; and the physics of sex.  The book includes a few equations

While the book is enlightening it is not particularly entertaining.  I found the text in general to be somewhat long winded and the author discussions about his own experiments to be tedious.  I was also not particularly interested in most of the topics covered in this book.  Storm in a Teacup by Helen Czerski, is in my opinion, a more entertaining and interesting books that covers many more topics than this book.

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review 2018-01-10 06:21
Storm in a Teacup by Helen Czerski
Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life - Helen Czerski

TITLE:  Storm in a Teacup:  The Physics of Everyday Life

 

AUTHOR:  Helen Czerski

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2016

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  978-1-784-16075-3

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In the author's own words: 

"this book is about linking the little things we see every day with the big world we live in.  It's a romp through the physical world, showing how playing with things like popcorn, coffee stains and refrigerator magnets can shed light on Scott's expeditions, medical tests and solving out future energy needs."

 

This book is definitely a "romp" through the physical world, managing to be entertaining, energetic, accessible and educational at the same time, without bogging the reader down with too much formal detail, lengthy explanations or equations.  

 

Czerski begins each chapter with something small and familiar that we will have seen many times but may never have thought about, and uses it to explain the relevant fascinating physics phenomenon.  By the end of each chapter, the reader will see the same patterns explaining some of the most important science and technology of our time. This book provides a good deal of basic general knowledge and shows how physics laws we observe on Earth are applicable universally.  

 

Czerski has a chatty, informal style of writing interspersed with personal anecdotes she usually uses to make a relevant point (which I didn't find as annoying as the ubiquitous author interviews and fashion commentary found in other books).  Each chapter covers a theme or physics law (e.g. waves, electromagnetism, surface tension, gravity) and then discusses several useful, common or interesting real-world applications in bite-sized chunks to demonstrate the concept - everything from popcorn, fluorescent scorpions, floating eggs, toast, sloshing tea, bubbles, mail rockets, elephant trunks, steam locomotives, candles, ocean and air currents to Sputnik, the Hubble Telescope, and wi-fi etc.  I found her inclusion of experiments that anyone can do at home (e.g. all the egg experiments, the raisins in the fizzy bottle, pH indicator cabbage and the toast experiment) to be a nice addition to a general physics popular science book.

 

Czerski has an infectious passion for physics.  While her explanations aren't terribly detailed; they are accessible, entertaining, understandable, not overly simplified, and extremely fascinating.  The examples she chooses are also different - I doubt readers will look at their toasters, tea or eggs in quite the same way again! 

I found Storm in a Teacup made for an enjoyable reading experience, providing information that was new to me about how and why ordinary "stuff", and ultimately, the world works. 

 

Other books:

 

-Science and the City by Laurie Winkless

-Atoms Under the Floorboards by Christ Woodford

-Zoom by Bob Berman

-The Quantum Age by Brian Clegg

-Structures or Why Things Don't Fall Down by J.E. Gordon

-Rhythms of Life by Russell Foster & Leon Kreitzman

 

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review 2017-07-02 10:41
The Goldilocks Planet: The Four Billion Year Story of Earth's Climate by Jan Zalasiewicz & Mark Williams
The Goldilocks Planet: The 4 Billion Year Story of Earth's Climate - Mark Williams,Jan Zalasiewicz

TITLE:  The Goldilocks Planet:  The Four Billion Year Story of Earth's Climate

 

AUTHOR:  Jan Zalasiewicz & Mark Williams

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2013

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  978-0-19-968350-5

 

 

 

The Goldilocks Planet:  The Four Billion Year Story of Earth's Climate takes a look at the Earth's climate from the planet's formation to the current age and then takes a look at what our future climate might have in store for us. In short, the book contents are as described on the "box".

 

In this book, the authors reconstruct and describe how the Earth's climate has continuously altered over its 4.5 billion-year history.  The story can be read from clues preserved in the Earth's strata, in fossils, in ancient air samples, in mineral samples, extinction events etc.  The book describes how changes in the global and regional climate range from bitterly cold to sweltering hot, from arid to humid, and they have impacted enormously upon the planet's evolving animal and plant communities, and upon its physical landscapes of the Earth.  However, in spite of this, the Earth has remained consistently habitable for life for over three billion years - in stark contrast to its planetary neighbours.  Not too hot, not too cold; not too dry, not too wet, it is aptly known as 'the Goldilocks planet'.

This book is wonderfully written!  And so interesting!  Minimal personal anecdotes, not too much biographical detail (just enough to be interesting) and lots of lovely, juicy science - all explained to be easily understandable but not simplified to be completely useless.  The authors have also included numerous helpful diagrams and graphs.  I wouldn't call this a popular science book, but it isn't a text book either.  I wish more science books were written like this book.

 

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