"Do Polar Bears Get Lonely?: And 101 Other Intriguing Science Questions"
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 19th March 2009Another birthday book from my friends Steve and Ingrid, this is a collection of scientific tit-bits taken from New Scientist's regular "Last Word" feature, where readers pose questions to which other readers submit their answers.
If I'm honest I haven't been a huge fan of this kind of book in the past - they feel like the non-fiction equivalent of short stories, and sometimes I feel a bit frustrated by the rather haphazard approach, which seems to jump around a lot of different topics or areas of science without really going into much depth for any of them. So it was somewhat surprising to find this as readable, entertaining and as informative as I did. I learned some interesting things, particularly regarding physiology (for example, is it really unsafe to swim on a full stomach? Not particularly). Most memorably for me was the fact that urinating on your foot in the shower will not cure athelete's foot, contrary to popular belief. Apparently, although this could work in principle, the concentration of urea in urine is for too low in practice to be an effective anti-fungal agent.
Finally, all the questions and answers aside, the other neat thing about the book is that if you flick through the pages quickly, you can also see a polar bear juggling a seal juggling a ball. Nice!