RogerBW's Blog

The Science of Everyday Life, Marty Jopson 15 April 2016

2015 non-fiction, popular science; short pieces introduce the scientific explanations for commonplace oddities.

I know Marty mostly as a role-player, since I met him first at the YSDC Games Days, but it turns out he's also a science presenter on The One Show. (This may mean more to people who've seen The One Show.) This book feels like the sort of thing that would fit on a magazine programme; the pieces are mostly about a thousand words long, and each forms a very gentle introduction to a single idea, such as: why wine oxidises and how to delay it, why onions cause tears, why compact fluorescent lights take a while to reach full brightness, or why ice is slippery.

My only real problem with the book is that it does just give a gentle introduction. Nobody with a reasonable level of scientific literacy will find any surprises here, and just as things are starting to get interesting the piece ends. One could go on further by looking things up in Wikipedia, but then one could have started with Wikipedia in the first place.

What it's good for, perhaps, is stirring up scientific curiosity without having to start with things that are remote from everyday experience: I'd give this to a child (perhaps one too young for What If) and be ready for a barrage of questions (though I note that the classic "why is the sky blue" isn't included here). There are plenty of admissions that some fairly simple-seeming things aren't fully understood yet, and Jopson has a pleasant if thoroughly informal writing style, though sometimes the last-sentence jokes feel a little forced.

So this is an odd one to review: I'm not in the target audience, if you're one of my regular readers you probably aren't either, and I find it difficult to say how well it would work. But if you have access to a reasonably smart child or non-scientific adult it could well be worth trying this out.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

See also:
What If?, Randall Munroe

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2022 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1