I Used To Know That: General Science by Marianne Taylor

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I Used To Know That: General Science by Marianne Taylor

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Category: Popular Science
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: A whistle stop tour of the top 3 sciences, this is to the point and a good way to revise the science basics you really should know.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: September 2015
Publisher: Michael O'Mara Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-1782434474

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At school we studied individual sciences, 3 of them, for a number of years, and had to choose a minimum of 2 of them to take to GCSE. Not some sort of combined dual award generic Science subject, but the actual trinity of Physics, Chemistry and/or Biology. For this reason I'm pretty good on which is which. We used to explain it like this to new first years: Biology is cutting things up, Chemistry is blowing things up, and Physics is best behaviour (because all first years were taught by the headmistress). Of course there's a lot more to the subjects than that, but that was the general gist.

This book got off to the right start in my mind because it comes in 3 key sections, each for one of 'my' sciences without a nod to any of the other '-ologies' (or pseudo sciences as they were often called at school). Marketed as stuff you forgot from school, this is a book from the same series that has already spawned I Used to Know That: History by Emma Marriott, I Used to Know That: Maths by Chris Waring and I Should Know That - Great Britain by Emma Marriott among others.

In one of my first Physics lessons we learnt to draw circuits, so it's fitting that this book starts the Physics section with talking about electricity. Combining some of the science with some recent stats on usage and sources, this got me interested right from the start. From here it goes on to look at astrophysics, the laws of physics and so on. With an electrical engineer for a partner, and an astrophysicist for a sister there were things I should know. And without dwelling too much on the past, now I can say I do. So that's good.

Chemistry is up next, and this covers the periodic table, something I am bizarrely familiar with (not least because our Cheer programme names teams after elements, so my calendar is full of standing arrangements for Co, Pt, Hg and, previously, Ti). It also talks about the classics: solids, liquids, gasses and atomic structures. At a Cheer conference this weekend, one of the speakers (also a high school science teacher) was referencing catalysts and my first thought was Ooh, something that creates a reaction without becoming a part of it, something this book confirms.

Biology rounds of the book, and this was the area I felt I relearned the most, notably the human biology side of things. Perhaps our school syllabus spent too long teaching us about how 6CO2 plus 6H2O gives C6H12O6 plus 6O2 to focus on what was going on inside us, but there was definitely some stuff I believe I never knew, not just stuff I'd forgotten.

Overall, this is a short but focussed book that is easy to read. I can't say it's the most entertaining book I've ever read, but it's factual and accessible which is more important. As with the book on history I found the layout slightly annoying at times, with text boxes with asides interrupting the flow of the main body on more than one occasion, but this was only a minor inconvenience. It's a good addition to the series and is quite high level so it really is stuff you should know. Recommended for general reference on the bookshelf, or for a deliberate knowledge brush up if you think that's warranted, I'd like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy.

Once you've brushed up on the basics, you can move on to more important science stuff. Like Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze? by Mick O'Hare and Do Polar Bears Get Lonely? by Mick O'Hare.

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Buy I Used To Know That: General Science by Marianne Taylor at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I Used To Know That: General Science by Marianne Taylor at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy I Used To Know That: General Science by Marianne Taylor at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I Used To Know That: General Science by Marianne Taylor at Amazon.com.

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