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Inflight Science: A Guide to the World from Your Airplane Window [Paperback]

Brian Clegg
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
Price: £10.25 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

31 Mar 2011
The perfect companion to any flight - a guide to the science on view from your window seat. There are few times when science is so immediate as when you're in a plane. Your life is in the hands of the scientists and engineers who enable tons of metal and plastic to hurtle through the sky at hundreds of miles an hour. Inflight Science shows how you stay alive up there - but that's only the beginning. Brian Clegg explains the ever changing view, whether it's crop circles or clouds, mountains or river deltas, and describes simple experiments to show how a wing provides lift, or what happens if you try to open a door in midair (don't!). On a plane you'll experience the impact of relativity, the power of natural radiation and the effect of altitude on the boiling point of tea. Among the many things you'll learn is why the sky is blue, the cause of thunderstorms and the impact of volcanic ash in an enjoyable tour of mid-air science. Every moment of your journey is an opportunity to experience science in action: Inflight Science will be your guide.

Frequently Bought Together

Inflight Science: A Guide to the World from Your Airplane Window + The Flying Book: Everything You've Ever Wondered About Flying on Airlines + Cockpit Confidential: Questions, Answers, and Reflections on Air Travel
Price For All Three: £30.23

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Icon Books Ltd (31 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848312415
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848312418
  • Product Dimensions: 1.7 x 13.9 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 304,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brian's most recent book is The Quantum Age. He has written many other science titles, including the bestselling Inflight Science, The God Effect, Before the Big Bang, Ecologic, A Brief History of Infinity, Build Your Own Time Machine, The Universe Inside You, Gravity, Extra Sensory and Dice World, which is on the longlist for the 2014 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books.

Born in Rochdale, Lancashire, UK, Brian read Natural Sciences (specializing in experimental physics) at Cambridge University. After graduating, he spent a year at Lancaster University where he gained a second MA in Operational Research, a discipline developed during the Second World War to apply mathematics and probability to warfare and since widely applied to business problem solving.

From Lancaster, he joined British Airways, where he formed a new department tasked with developing hi-tech solutions for the airline. His emphasis on innovation led to working with creativity guru Dr. Edward de Bono, and in 1994 he left BA to set up his own creativity consultancy, running courses on the development of ideas and the solution of business problems. His clients include the BBC, the Met Office, Sony, GlaxoSmithKline, the Treasury, Royal Bank of Scotland and many others.

Brian has also written regular columns, features and reviews for numerous magazines and newspapers, including The Observer, Playboy, Nature, The Times, Personal Computer World, BBC Focus, BBC History, Good Housekeeping and House Beautiful. His books have been translated into many languages, including German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Polish, Norwegian, and Indonesian.

Brian has given sell-out lectures at the Royal Institution in London and has spoken at venues from Oxford and Cambridge Universities to Cheltenham Festival of Science. He has also contributed to radio and TV programs, and is a popular speaker at schools. Brian is also editor of the successful book review site and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Brian lives in Wiltshire with his wife and twin children. When not writing, he spends time on music, having a passion for Tudor and Elizabethan church music.

Product Description


'Inflight Science, by Brian Clegg is, essentially an eye-spy book for adults... Despite the odd alarming fact it is not, however, designed to scare one off flying. Quite the reverse: its intention is to inform - fitting into that publishing niche somewhere between hard science and Schott's Miscellany that was so successfully exploited by books such as The Cloudspotter's Guide.... The great strength of the book is its ability to pull out from the mundane experiences of modern air travel - the contrails and cumulonimbus, the security scanners and salted snacks - to explain a wider technical point.'
--The Times, 26 March 2011

"...we should be grateful for this book from Brian Clegg, an unabashed aircraft geek. Everything about aircraft seems to fascinate him: how much they weigh, how their lavatories work, how they affect our bodies. consider myself reasonably competent on matters aeronautical, but he still managed to surprise me with something new on every page. With this book in hand, we have all we need to set off on our next flight with our eyes open to the sheer wonder of what is involved." --Alain de Botton, Mail on Sunday

"Inflight Science, by Brian Clegg, is essentially an eye-spy book for adults... its intention is to inform - fitting into that publishing niche somewhere between hard science and Schott's Miscellany that was so successfully exploited by books such as The CloudSpotter's Guide. The great strength of the book is its ability to pull out from the mundane experiences of modern air travel - the contrails and cumulonimbus, the security scanners and salted snacks - to explain a wider technical point." --The Times

What a lovely little book this is: the ultimate holiday read before the holiday's even begun.... Author Brian Clegg clearly understands that science is only as dry as the ivy-covered professors who make it so --The World Magazine

Everything you were afraid (very afraid) to ask is explained in this brilliant guide to the science of getting into the air, staying there and landing. --Iain Finlayson, Saga magazine

About the Author

Brian Clegg is a science writer. He runs and his most recent book was Armageddon Science (St Martin's Press, 2010).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Diverse phenomena of air travel explained simply 25 Aug 2011
Aimed very much at non-scientists, Clegg provides entertaining and moderately informative explanations to a number of diverse aspects of air travel. He guides us from the technology of airport security systems and the science of flight to the formation of topographic features seen from above and the weather systems that we might encounter.

Clegg's conversational style generally works well, and succeeds in explaining complex phenomena relatively free of jargon. But I felt that a few more diagrams might have added to the text.

Some of the features appear to have been selected on rather a random basis (the chances of spotting crop circles or Nazca lines from the air are in reality pretty slim), which lends the book a rather quirky character. This might not teach you all the science that you had forgotten since school, but it's a step in that direction.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating aerial facts an' thoughts 11 Jun 2011
Having got the book for my best friend who's flown planes, helicopters, ME109's and probably Sopwith's in his time, this wanna be "Brian Trubshaw", knew it all and almost did! Until he picked up this book. His monologues have lengthened somewhat, but at least it's stuff wot I have never heard before and it really IS interesting!! A great book and I should know, I can repeat every line!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of Inflight Scinece 13 Jun 2011
I found the information quite clear and easy to read. There is nothing fundamental about the science involved although basic physics is visited. Einstein gets a mention several times but I found the book to be more suitable to someone perhaps of eight to twelve years old. In that respect I was a little disappointed by the content. I did not know what I was buying when I ordered the book so I make no complain in that respect. However, next time I might try and read someone else's review before purchasing a book from Amazon.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Actually, science is fun! 27 April 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
I'm found science boring at school. It was always more fun looking out of the classroom window than listening to anything the science teacher was saying.

Then, along comes a book that asks you to look out of your airplane window for a science lesson. It seemed like I was going back to my schooldays, looking out of the window again. It's science Jim, but not as we know it! The author makes science interesting, describing things in a way that makes it seem easy to understand. Basic things I never really understood before are explained clearly for a non-scientist to understand.

This book is really riveting. I could hardly put it down once I started it. Anyone who has taken a flight can relate to it. It was an enjoyable read and I learnt a lot from it too. Thoroughly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Whatuni
Brian Clegg lets you in some of the science you experience as you travel by air to your sunny destination, from airport scanners and security checks, to how your plane actually gets into the air. And he doesn't stop there - he tackles some of the things you might see out of the window: the Uffington White Horse; crop circles or simply just the tides. He even explains how an airplane toilet works and why you could never get sucked into the vacuum flush!

This light but informative read is fun and accessible and the perfect book to read on your travels - and there are even a few inflight experiments for you to get your teeth into. It'll leave you marvelling at the science and engineering that goes into flying - something we all take for granted when we're jetting off.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what the reviews suggested 26 Jun 2011
I have to confess to being slightly disappointed by this book...

The reviews I'd read in the press made it seem that the book was a real insight into the science around civil aviation. While some of that is covered, there is quite a bit of science to do with things that are only really tangentially connected to the central topic. For example, there is a section on the formation of oxbow forms in rivers, included because a passenger can see river formations out of the window while taking off. It's not uninteresting, but there are plenty of science issues connected with flight that aren't covered, and I felt their absence. For example, there wasn't anything about the science of the tracking of airline fleets, nothing about the scientific/ economic decisions relating to the optimal size of passenger planes, no insight into how planes are constructed (materials etc.).

Instead, the book is a discussion of a disparate collection of scientific issues loosely connected by tying them into the sequence of a flight. As I said, not uninteresting if what you're looking for is a novel science primer.

By the way, if someone reading this review knows a good book that covers more aspects of the technology of civil aviation, please let me know!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
From your arrival at the departure airport, via the security checkpoints and your plane's departure, through to landing in your destination -- Brian Clegg runs you through all the popular science related to a typical flight.

While the 'hard science' is somewhat lacking, this is still a worthwhile book that you can't fail to learn one or two things from.

Written in an informal and educational manner, Inflight Science feels more like an extended secondary school science lesson than a serious discourse in 'the science of flying'.

That said, if you're looking for an easy read, or if you're new to popular science books, then this is a good choice for a long flight: it'll open your eyes and keep you entertained.

If you're already well-read in matter of science, this is probably one to miss.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A good read.
Published 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Gift
I bought this as a gift and I have had no adverse comments from the recipients, so I am assuming it is OK.
Published 6 months ago by Nordic crime fan
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
A very entertaining book! I knew most of the scientific facts (although admit to being brought up to date on a few issues), but greatly enjoyed the way ideas were presented with... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Valerie
5.0 out of 5 stars very informative
recommend any one interesting in travelling or knowledge of flying or frequently on the move by the means of planes.
Published 13 months ago by cheuk lo
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read even for aviation geeks
It's written as if bought at the airport or shortly before. Great insight into the workings of planes, airports and flight. Great read even for aviation geeks.
Published 15 months ago by B WABUNOHA
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Fasinating book full of all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff. Anything to help while away a boring old flight.
Published 15 months ago by Maggie
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and informative
Very entertaining and informative, but I am still glad not to be in flight; as the author says, most of the experiments can be undertaken on solid earth, and that will be my... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Mrs
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
A very interesting book which enlightens the reader about air travel. Can get a bit heavy on the scientific explanations sometimes. Humorous in parts.
Published 20 months ago by Belmont
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag
I learnt some fascinating facts which I found really interesting, but other parts either went way over my head or bored me to tears so a bit of mixed bag for me
Published 24 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read for those who fly
A clever trawl through all those things you've wondered while being sat for hours on a plane but never asked - well written and presented
Published on 3 Sep 2012 by Willby
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