Book Review: How to Fossilise Your Hamster (New Scientist)

This, the third in the collection of New Scientist books, focuses not so much on responding to letters sent into the magazine of those odd scientific queries and compiling them into a volume with comprehensive answers, but on the more practical aspects of what you can learn for yourself. It is a book of experiments based on queries they magazine has received.

The experiments are of course straightforward and encourage you to recreate every day phenomena. Because of this, it is not so much a book to read cover to cover but one to dip into from time to time in case they are able to answer a particular query. One for the shelf then.

Each premise follows a standard format:
* Question
* List of objects required to recreate the experiment
* What you do with them
* What you will see
* What it all means

As well as practical demonstrations of provable phenomena, the book also has several “mythbusting” example experiments to try out. The format doesn’t work quite as well as Why don’t penguins feet freeze? (the other volume I have read) because it is difficult to read without wanting to try the experiments amd if you do that it will take you a long time and could in theory cost you a bit of money, especially those that involve alcohol! Either way, this is an interesting book that tries to make science fun and that can only be a good thing. It didn’t quite work for me but for those with the time and the inclination to see experiments in action, it could be a fun Christmas stocking filler.

I’m still hoping that the next volume is a blow-by-blow critique of The Daily Mail‘s non-existent science reporting.


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