How To Make A Tornado by Mick O'Hare

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How To Make A Tornado by Mick O'Hare

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Category: Popular Science
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: New Scientist's annual book is as great as always. This time it looks at the bizarre things that have been done in the name of science. It'll deservedly ride high in the bestseller lists this Christmas.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: October 2009
Publisher: Profile Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1846682872

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Another year, another must-read book from the New Scientist. We've been here before with polar bears, penguins and hamsters. Now it's time to turn our attention to how to make a tornado, and all the other crazy experiments that scientists have done over the years.

It's a fabulous book, both for flicking through and reading cover to cover. Your life will be richer for knowing certain things, like what happens if you pump an elephant full of LSD, what the temperature of heaven is, and how to collect whale faeces. Admit it: you're dying to know. I particularly enjoyed hearing more about Stubbins Ffirth, whom I'd first encountered in Brilliant Answers by AQA 63336. This is a man who was so sure that yellow fever wasn't contagious that he ingested the vomit of those infected with it. He was wrong. However, Barry Marshall was so sure of his work on ulcers that he swallowed Helicobacter pylori bacteria, and ended up winning a Nobel prize. It's a fine line between genius and madness.

I would have liked a few more punchy stories to be able to read out loud to others. I'm not suggesting for a second that New Scientist should dumb down, or indeed that the detail isn't fascinating. It's a tricky balance, and I'm nit-picking, but trivia books work best for me when shared. Sometimes a paragraph would have been better than a page. If reading it to yourself, then the level of detail is perfect, and it becomes the sort of book you'll happily devour on a lazy afternoon.

How To Make A Tornado will be yet another best-seller and deservedly so. You can expect to get a couple of copies as Christmas presents, and give out another half dozen to anyone with an interest in science, the bizarre, or who have ever wanted to know the best way to turn on a turkey - probably save that one until after Christmas dinner. Recommended.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

The Average Life of the Average Person by Tadg Farrington also mixes popular science with trivia to great effect. Skeptoid 2: More Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena by Brian Dunning is also well-worth a look. If you want a slightly more serious look at science and scientists, you'll love The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson.

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Buy How To Make A Tornado by Mick O'Hare at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy How To Make A Tornado by Mick O'Hare at


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