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Mixed Bag of ideas27 Nov. 2011
Armin Nikkhah Shirazi
- Published on Amazon.com
Written mostly by the Editors of New Scientist, this little book presents, as the title says, a compilation of about 99 ideas for things one could do (or in some cases at least imagine doing) before dying and 5 things to do with your body afterwards (e.g. turning a sample of it into a diamond that can then be worn by loved ones).
Given the authorship, it is not surprising that all of the ideas have a significant scientific aspect to them, so it is a fun way of learning some scientific factoids, although I doubt that most of these will be retained.
Some of the idea articles are actually very short guest columns written by notable scientists, for instance the one on trying to answer whether the Universe is unique was written by Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist who has written several books popularizing science, and the one on time travel was written by Anton Zeilinger, one of the leading experimental physicists on the foundations of quantum mechanics.
I have the impression that the editors tried to provide a mix of ideas ranging from the utterly impossible (e.g. "Achieve Immortality") to ones so challenging that they are out of the reach to all but a tiny number of people (e.g. solve a Clay Institute Millenial problem or decipher the Voynich Manuscript) to ones that require significant cooperation from scientists (e.g. write out your name in atoms) or a lot of money (e.g. have your entire genome sequenced (at a cost of 10 million dollar according to the book)), to ones that require more feasible efforts such as traveling to certain locations (e.g. Kilauea on Hawaii in order to "Walk on Lava") to ones that can be done with relatively little effort (e.g. "Measure the speed of light using chocolate").
On the plus side, I liked the sense of humor throughout the book and the originality of several of the ideas. On the minus side, the fact that a significant fraction of the ideas involve doing things that are either impossible or extremely challenging means that the number of ideas one could seriously aspire to pursue is not as large as one might have hoped. It would have been more satisfying to either have fewer impossible ideas or, given the same mix, have a larger total number of suggested ideas, perhaps even with a small symbol categorizing the feasibility/cost of each. Also, some of the ideas have misleading captions, a case in point is the title of the book: "Stroke a Martian" refers to touching a sample of a martian meteorite at a museum.
Nevertheless, this was an enjoyable quick read, I got a few ideas out of it, but not nearly as many as I had hoped.
fun AND informative!5 Sept. 2014
- Published on Amazon.com
This book is not just informative, it is very humorously written! I found it to be a great read, especially since I have a fondness for satire. Some may call this a good bathroom book or coffee table book. Either way, it is an interesting read and worth paying $3.99 for shipping. :)