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on 5 February 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I regularly have sleepless 10 hour flights, so I like to have something light to read on the plane...but can't stand reading celebrity or fashion magazines...so this turned-out to be perfect, it was light reading and had nice short little stories or facts that didn't task me too much when tired and jet-lagged. Another plus was just when accepting a complimentary cup of tea I reached the odd little fact about why air-plane tea is so poor, which made me giggle.

Although some may criticise the jumping between subjects for me this was perfect as it meant I wasn't stuck on the same topic for long, and yet there was a constant throughout the book due to the humour of the subjects and the writers personality running throughout - again, the focus here was light-reading, interesting punchy little titbits throughout. I won't pretend to be well-versed in scientific subjects, but the science wasn't too heavy either but at the same time not patronising to the reader at all. I highly recommend this book for something to have on hand just for a casual read.
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on 2 February 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I look back on my science lessons at school quite fondly - nowadays I'd mix up Bernoulli and Boyle, or Curie and Faraday, but I'm still interested in reading science books with little nuggets of things I was taught and things I wasn't.

From that perspective this book is great - it's bitesize details of various topics (generally 2-4 pages) covering all sorts of science, biology and mathematics. There's no order to it as far as I could see but for an easy read you can dip in and out of it's great. The choice of these topics is fairly arbitrary and there's a certain sense of amusement apparent on the part of the author - topics such as "The ten greatest ever equations according to Nicaragua", "The chemical history of the candle", "Molecules will silly names" are not likely to inspire exam questions any time soon, but there's plenty other content to interest the reader.

One criticism I do have though is the amount of poetry - personally I'm not convinced poetry and science work together particularly well so for that I drop it a star.
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on 6 April 2014
Enjoyed the variety of sciences discussed and the idiosyncratic style of the write.
I defy anyone not to hum Modern Major General if they know it, to the chemical table, it works! Great reminder of. stuff we should remember, but usually don't. Along with great anecdotes and information about scientific history and innovation all in all a fun read
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is a bit like Schott's Miscellany, as it brings together a wide range of facts (and some amusing bits!) from science - including physics, chemistry and biology. Loads of things that you think you ought to have known.

A good book for a guest bedroom (if you are posh) or the downstairs loo (if you're not!)
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VINE VOICEon 25 January 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I find science fascinating, exciting and surprising by turns - so it's interesting how much work has been put into the formatting of this book to make it seem dull, unengaging and stodgy. There is a lot here that's enjoyable, but the style and presentation not only makes even a flip through the pages uninspiring (and that's how this sort of book is usually read), but the idea of reading it from cover to cover unconscionable. As well as the irritating 'Look at this...look at that' approach, there's rather a lot of 'Look at me...aren't I clever to understand this?'; so why the 3 stars? It's because of the jokes about adenosine triphosphate and gold, two of the few jokes, despite what appears on the cover, and the elegant hardback binding (though the paper of the pages is nasty). I doubt whether I'll bother to read most of this, though - I don't need any more needles, and if I did, that need would have to be desperate to make me hunt for them here.
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VINE VOICEon 22 January 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Science Magpie "does what it says on the tin" and is a collection of scientific oddities, explanations, jokes, songs and slices of history. For non-scientists it explains the basics well and so won't lose the casual reader while for science buffs there's enough interesting background to hold the attention e.g. the original thought experiment that produced Schrodinger's cat and Charles Darwin's list of reasons to get married and matching list of reasons not to. The book works best when covering topics you've not really read much of before so the simple explanation is useful, but a bit less well if you've already got a good grasp of the subject (although it may prompt you to go and read something more in depth, no bad thing).

Overall this is recommended, but probably more for non-scientists where it will work like a QI episode - it could cover too much familiar ground for some science readers.
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on 10 December 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Flynn is a trainee science teacher, and it really shows through in his book, The Science Magpie. He has collected together a wealth of interesting science and maths facts, many of which are serious but many of which are irreverent and amusing. They would be a great resource in the classroom.

The book is clearly laid out with a contents page, but is also enjoyably random - you can go from reading about the top science books to how to write infinity in just a page. For me this was just the right balance between being able to find a particular entry if I want to refer back to it, but also being able just to dip into it and read something unexpected and interesting.

This would make a great present for a science-minded person, or alternatively a great book to have in the loo. Highly recommended, and a pleasure to read.
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on 23 January 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
It should be pointed out that you do need a good basic familiarity with science to get the best out of this book. For example if you should be able work out what dihydrogen monoxide is.

What I liked most about this book is that it is far more than just a random collection of titbits. Flynn provides many reference points, for much needed criticism of the way science is presented in the modern world. Flynn does not preach, but he will make you think again about the way you regard science and scientists.

This book should appeal to any mature science generalist, but in particular to teachers and writers who can rely on it for some added colour for their presentations. It is perhaps not the best book for many science students though, as they might find the generality, history and philosophy, too distracting.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
On the plus side, there is an eclectic variety of information, loosely tied together in a way that suggests that the author was suddenly reminded of another fact while recording the previous one. I enjoy this style of writing, and it means the book is easy to dip in and out of.

On the other hand, I wouldn't go so far as the "fascinating" used in the title of the book. "relatively interesting for the most part" might have been more accurate. My usual gauge of these kinds of books is the frequency with which I want to read out a bit to someone else - and that happened only rarely with this book.

Okay, but I'd rather pick it up for a bit of random reading at someone else's house than pay to have it as a permanent addition to my own library.
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VINE VOICEon 12 May 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the sort of book to give as a present a Godson or nephew when you don't want to get them the next computer came or an amazon voucher! The book is packed with lots of short summaries of stuff of a scientific nature - surely something in there to for every young lad (and girl). Would also be a good book for the loo!

I loved it! I was pleased to find out why Pluto is no longer a planet and learnt what Schrodinger's cat was really up to - two things that I had wondered about and was glad to find the answer. I loved finding out about the real molecules with silly names eg Erotic Acid and Windowpane!! Strange but true. A treasure trove of all things scientific although some of the poems were a little dodgy!!!!
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