How To Fossilise Your Hamster by Mick O'Hare

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How To Fossilise Your Hamster by Mick O'Hare

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Category: Popular Science
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Almost guaranteed to be another best seller for Profile Books this latest book of excerpts from the New Scientist magazine has something for everyone. It's the friendly face of science and is highly recommended by The Bookbag.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 216 Date: October 2007
Publisher: Profile
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1846680441

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It used to be that the most predictable thing about Christmas would be what was on television, but Profile Books have changed all that with their annual best seller - Mick O'Hare's excellent collections of excerpts from the New Scientist magazine. It all began with Does Anything Eat Wasps?, which was followed in 2006 by Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze? Can they do it again with How to Fossilise Your Hamster? I think they can. This is the best one yet.

It's a book about experimenting and seeing for yourself, not about reading the rather obscure finding of someone working in a laboratory. Most of the experiments are designed to be done in or around the home, usually with the sort of supplies and equipment which will be readily available. Some of the experiments could be carried out by children, even with minimal supervision, but appropriate warnings are given about any dangers.

It might be, of course, that the first few experiments put me in an exceedingly good mood. They're all about alcohol, you see and there's something to everyone's taste, from the swirling patterns on the top of Tia Maria, through the reasons that sparkling wine froths in some glasses and not others and why a mixture of two clear liquids such as water and Pernod creates a white drink. You'll even find out if James Bond's martini is better shaken or stirred. There's encouragement to try the experiments and to repeat them to be sure that you've got it right. Science was never like this at school. By the way, there's no truth in the idea that champagne keeps its fizz overnight if you suspend a teaspoon in the neck of the bottle. I was touched by the thought that there are people who keep part-drunk bottles of champagne overnight, but perhaps it's just that I move in the wrong circles.

It's not all about alcohol though. There's chocolate there too and I had a wonderful time working out the speed of light using a bar of chocolate and the microwave. I also enjoyed the mousse I made with the melted chocolate. Well, it would have been a sin to waste it, wouldn't it? I was less inclined to try the experiment which involves dropping Mentos into Coca Cola to produce a 6 metre fountain. I knew who would have to clear up the mess.

I wanted to try the experiment of using conkers to clean my clothes as I live on a street lined with horse chestnut trees, but you've got to grind them up and use them to hand wash. I'm lazy - and I could well imagine the washing machine repairman's face when I explained what I'd done.

Getting ketchup out of a glass bottle has always been a bit, well, hit and miss and all the various methods are tried for your benefit. I experimented with a few of them on your behalf (well, actually, it had more to do with a bacon sandwich) and I can confirm that the suggested methods do work. I can also advise you that you really do need a biological washing powder to get ketchup stains out of a white shirt.

It's learning for fun. It's education with a smiley face. Just occasionally a non-scientist (me) will find some of the explanations overly technical, but they're only a small part of an otherwise excellent book. It would make a thoughtful present for any number of people, but why not buy one for yourself just in case others don't take the hint? And, when you have a copy, flick through the leading edge of the pages and you'll see a picture show of how to fossilise your hamster - 200,000 years reduced to split second.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of this book to The Bookbag.

If this type of book appeals to you then you might also enjoy QI: The Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson.

Booklists.jpg How To Fossilise Your Hamster by Mick O'Hare is in the Top Ten Books For Slightly Geeky People.

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Cahrles and Linda said:

this book sounds amazing...i want it for my birthday.... :)