Farmer Buckley's Exploding Trousers
In August 1931, New Zealand farmer Richard Buckley hit the local headlines - or rather his trousers did. One minute they were drying in front of the fire; the next there was a huge blast and a ball of flames. Farmer Buckley's trousers had exploded. The culprit? A popular pesticide of the day, which when combined with clothing fibres unexpectedly formed a highly combustible compound. This incendiary story is a striking example of how scientific advances meant to improve people's lives can sometimes backfire. Contrary to the widespread belief that science and technology move steadily on from one discovery to the next, the fascinating stories in this entertaining collection present some of the unfamiliar characters and events that litter the path of scientific progress. Based on the New Scientist's weekly 'Histories' column, Farmer Buckley's Exploding Trousers shows how setbacks and mishaps are the norm, and breakthroughs are the exception.
Why Are Orangutans Orange?
The 2011 'Last Word' collection featured, for the first time, 108 full-colour photographs showing the beauty, complexity and mystery of the world around us. From ripples in glass to 'holograms' in ice, the natural world's wonders are unravelled by the magazine's knowledgeable readers. The book presents more resourceful, wry and well-informed answers to a remarkable range of baffling science questions.
Zero, zip, nada, zilch. It's all too easy to ignore the fascinating possibilities of emptiness and non-existence, and we may well wonder what there is to say about nothing. But scientists have known for centuries that nothing is the key to understanding absolutely everything, from why particles have mass to the expansion of the universe; without nothing we'd be precisely nowhere. With chapters by 22 science writers, including top names such as Ian Stewart, Marcus Chown, Helen Pilcher, Nigel Henbest, Michael Brooks, Linda Geddes, Paul Davies, Jo Marchant and David Fisher, this fascinating and intriguing book revels in a subject that has tantalised the finest minds for centuries, and shows there's more to nothing than meets the eye.
All science begins with questions... - Why is the night sky black, even though it's full of stars? - How do pebbles skim on water? - Why doesn't your own snoring wake you up? - And why is the Large Hadron Collider so ... er ... large? And as these intriguing, imaginative and occasionally bonkers questions and answers drawn from New Scientist magazine's archives show: question everything and you might find your way to amazing, unexpected insights into our minds, bodies and the universe, and the science behind the scenes that keeps them ticking.As you would expect from New Scientist, this is top-flight science at its most accessible, unpredictable and entertaining. This latest mind-bending addition to the No. 1 bestselling series will fascinate 'Last Word' fans and new readers alike.
For you to be here today reading this requires a mind-boggling series of lucky breaks, starting with the Big Bang and ending in your own conception. So it's not surprising that we persist in thinking that we're in with a chance, whether we're playing the lottery or working out the likelihood of extra-terrestrial life. In Chance, a (not entirely) random selection of the New Scientist's sharpest minds provide fascinating insights into luck, randomness, risk and probability. From the secrets of coincidence to placing the perfect bet, the science of random number generation to the surprisingly haphazard decisions of criminal juries, it explores these and many other tantalising questions.Following on from the bestselling Nothing and Question Everything, this book will open your eyes to the weird and wonderful world of chance - and help you see when some things, in fact, aren't random at all.
How to Fossilise Your Hamster
How can you measure the speed of light with chocolate and a microwave? Why do yo-yos yo-yo? Why does urine smell so peculiar after eating asparagus (includes helpful recipe)? How long does it take to digest different types of food? What is going on when you drop mentos in to cola? 100 wonderful, intriguing and entertaining scientific experiments which show scientific principles first hand - this is science at its most popular.
How to Make a Tornado
Science tells us grand things about the universe: how fast light travels, and why stones fall to earth. But scientific endeavour goes far beyond these obvious foundations. There are some fields we don't often hear about because they are so specialised, or turn out to be dead ends. Yet researchers have given hallucinogenic drugs to blind people (seriously), tried to weigh the soul as it departs the body and planned to blast a new Panama Canal with atomic weapons.Real scientific breakthroughs sometimes come out of the most surprising and unpromising work. How to Make a Tornado is about the margins of science - not the research down tried-and-tested routes, but some of its zanier and more brilliant by-ways. Investigating everything from what it's like to die, to exploding trousers and recycled urine, this book is a reminder that science is intensely creative and often very amusing - and when their minds run free, scientists can fire the imagination like nobody else.
Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?
From the phenomenal New Scientist series, with over 2,500,000 copies soldThe second compilation of readers' answers to the questions in the 'Last Word' column of New Scientist, the world's best-selling science weekly. Following the phenomenal success of Does Anything Eat Wasps? - the Christmas 2005 surprise bestseller - Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze? includes answers to the most fascinating, trivial, idiosyncratic, baffling and strange questions in popular science. Ever wondered why we have fingerprints? Or whether bumblebees really defy the laws of physics when they fly? And why are eggs egg-shaped? And dogs' noses black? Why do our eyes water when we cut onions? Why doesn't superglue stick to the inside of its tube?Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze? is popular science at its most entertaining and enlightening.
Do Polar Bears Get Lonely?
From the phenomenal New Scientist series, with over 2,500,000 copies soldDo Polar Bears Get Lonely? is the third compilation of readers' answers to the questions in the 'Last Word' column of New Scientist, the world's best-selling science weekly. Following the phenomenal success of Does Anything Eat Wasps? (2005) and the even more spectacularly successful Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze? (2006), Do Polar Bears Get Lonely? includes a bumper crop of wise and wonderful answers never-before-seen in book form.Why does garlic make your breath smell? How toothpaste makers get the stripes in toothpaste? Why do we get 'pins and needles'? Why are some people left-handed and other people right-handed? Can insects get fat? Do elephants sneeze? And do fish get thirsty? What causes cells to stick together in the human body rather than simply fall apart? And why are pears pear-shaped (and not apple-shaped)?This all-new and eagerly awaited selection of the best once again presents popular science at its most entertaining and enlightening.
Will We Ever Speak Dolphin?
Ever wondered . . . - what is earwax for?- when is the moon blue?- why are there only two sexes?- do doctors live longer?Informative, hilarious, sometimes unsettling and always unexpected, the questions and answers from New Scientist readers in the magazine's popular 'Last Word' column are endlessly fascinating. Will We Ever Speak Dolphin? brings the best of the bunch together in another witty, weird and wise compendium that's irresistible for 'Last Word' fans and new readers alike.If you've ever wanted to know why you can't hear shouting underwater, whether ants get scared of humans towering over them, how butterflies know where they're heading, or whether there really is a difference between martinis shaken or stirred, New Scientist has all the weird and witty answers.
By Jo McMillan
Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit meets Goodbye Lenin.'I hadn't expected the Berlin Wall to be clean and white and smooth. It looked more like the edge of the swimming baths than the edge of the Cold War. On the grass of No-man's Land, fat rabbits ate and strolled about as if they'd never been hunted and nothing could disturb them. This was their land and they ruled it, and there were three parts to Berlin: East, West and Rabbit.'It is 1978, Jess is thirteen and she already has a reputation - as the daughter of the only communist in town. But then, it's in the blood. The Mitchells have been in the Party since the Party began. Jess and her mother Eleanor struggle to sell socialism to Tamworth - a sleepy Midlands town that just doesn't want to know.So when Eleanor is invited to spend a summer teaching in East Germany, she and Jess leap at the chance to see what the future looks like. On the other side of the Iron Curtain they turn from villains into heroes. And when Eleanor meets widower Peter and his daughter, Martina, a new, more peaceful life seems possible.But the Cold War has no time for love and soon the trouble starts. Peter is dispatched for two years of solidarity work in Laos. Friends become enemies, and Jess discovers how easy it is to switch sides, and how sides can be switched for you, sometimes without you even knowing.Motherland is a tender mother-daughter story and a tragi-comic portrait of a childhood overcome with belief. It's about loss of faith and loss of innocence, and what it's like to grow up on the losing side of history.
Flood of Fire
By Amitav Ghosh
The thrilling climax to the Ibis trilogy that began with the phenomenal Booker-shortlisted Sea of Poppies.It is 1839 and tension has been rapidly mounting between China and British India following the crackdown on opium smuggling by Beijing. With no resolution in sight, the colonial government declares war. One of the vessels requisitioned for the attack, the Hind, travels eastwards from Bengal to China, sailing into the midst of the First Opium War. The turbulent voyage brings together a diverse group of travellers, each with their own agenda to pursue. Among them is Kesri Singh, a sepoy in the East India Company who leads a company of Indian sepoys; Zachary Reid, an impoverished young sailor searching for his lost love, and Shireen Modi, a determined widow en route to China to reclaim her opium-trader husband's wealth and reputation. Flood of Fire follows a varied cast of characters from India to China, through the outbreak of the First Opium War and China's devastating defeat, to Britain's seizure of Hong Kong.Flood of Fire is a thrillingly realised and richly populated novel, imbued with a wealth of historical detail, suffused with the magic of place and plotted with verve. It is a beautiful novel in its own right, and a compelling conclusion to an epic and sweeping story - it is nothing short of a masterpiece.