How to Save the World with Salad Dressing by Thomas Byrne and Tom Cassidy
|How to Save the World with Salad Dressing by Thomas Byrne and Tom Cassidy|
|Category: Popular Science|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Through a silly story we face a gamut of thought experiments in physics. This could have been a good way to get knowledge across, but didn't impart much to me.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 208||Date: October 2011|
|Publisher: Oneworld Publications|
The world is under threat from a manic Bond-type baddie. You, my friendly reader, are the only person with the smarts enough to save it. You'd better not be one of my less intelligent friends, because according to this book one needs a lot of physics-inclined lateral thinking to carry out the dangerous tasks ahead. You'll need to know about gravity and other forces, buoyancy, friction, acceleration and more to get through the puzzles here.
In other words, here we get 26 (although the blurb claims 30) problems for you to think through, loosely collected with a story of epic proportions - and epically unfunny silliness. You then get sections of clues for each, that are by turns more and more pointedly helping you, then the solutions - with explanations. By the end one assumes you've learnt a lot about physics and the forces in the world around us - if not the forces of badness that your enemies in this plot symbolize.
We're supposed to start with an easy set of puzzles to guide us in, but you can get the first one wrong quite quickly, if like me you assumed the water container to be full. Nowhere does it say it isn't, but there are no tricks from there on in. Puzzle number ten, one with two-star difficulty, I got correct immediately, and got to show my workings as they used to say on exam papers. The following poser was one of the hardest, three-star kind, and I got that too, albeit without any explanation to offer.
So there can be a sense of satisfaction in completing these puzzles (and an annoyance with oneself in getting the later easy ones wrong), otherwise I wouldn't have begun to brag so. But that's down to me being me, and not this book. I'm left having read and read the book and still don't understand why the weight on the right in puzzle sixteen is reduced and the force is increased. Which proves to me at least that this does not work in being nearly as educational as it thinks.
This then is an example of Newton's third law of motion. For every person attracted to this book because of the physics basis of the puzzles and the thought experiments needed, one will be repelled for the same. I still think it will actually drive more away for the bad sense of humour it features, and the fact that it could have been a more helpful guide to the world's forces than it aims to be. A failed experiment, then.
I must still thank the publishers for my review copy.
A way to spike your mind to thinking about philosophy, not physics, is Mind Games: 31 Days to Rediscover Your Brain by Martin Cohen, while 100 Essential Things You Didn't Know You Didn't Know by John D Barrow broadens physics out into its mother, maths.
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You can read more book reviews or buy How to Save the World with Salad Dressing by Thomas Byrne and Tom Cassidy at Amazon.com.
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