- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd (Sep 1982)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0716714132
- ISBN-13: 978-0716714132
- Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 17.8 x 1.8 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,265,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
David Jones's book is a selection of his short pieces that appeared in New Scientist and other publications. No area of science seems too abstruse for him not to know something of its peculiarities or well kept secrets. The delight for readers is Jones's endless ability to make unusual connections between scientific knowledge and worldly problems.
His speculations purport to be the ideas of a butterfly-minded inventor, Daedalus. Daedalus and his research team at his company, Dreadco, are engaged in a perpetual struggle to solve the pressing problems of mankind.
Each sketch begins with the statement of a problem which may be trivial or substantial. Daedalus's solution is always an surprising one - typically it will involve an unexpected interdisciplinary insight. The pleasure of the pieces is that the proposed solutions always seem unlikely but are sufficiently plausible for the reader to wonder whether they really would work. Jones rounds off each piece by extending the idea to comically improbable lengths.
Every piece is thought provoking. Readers are amused and stimulated at the same time. One is always left wondering whether Jones's ideas could work or whether he has fooled us into overlooking some blindingly obvious obstacle.
In fact, Jones has a remarkable track record of predicting unlikely solutions to common problems. I recall reading that something like 70% of Daedalus's inventions are eventually realised. Last week I read that an insomniac's bed had appeared on the market - it claimed to cancel out sounds that would keep the light sleeper awake. It did this by generating sounds of reverse amplitude thus cancelling out the unwanted sound. Daedalus had proposed anti-sound for just this purpose 20 years ago.
Reviewing older Daedalus inventions could yield the entrepreneurial reader a good profit - what was not feasible when written may well be possible now.