Marc Abrahams, founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes which reward achievements which make people laugh and then make them think, brings us a collection of strange, funny and just plain amazing scientific research.
This is the kind of book that makes you want to read out snippets to whoever is near. I did this so often that my husband quickly became exasperated and took the book away from me. However, within 10 minutes of him starting to read it, he was doing exactly the same thing.
The research presented in the book covers a wide range of scientific disciplines so there's truly something for everyone. For example, a mere handful of the things I learned from reading This Is Improbable are:
- you can't Bend It Like Beckham on Mars; - loud noises wake you up; - strapless dresses have inherent engineering challenges; - you can teach a tortoise to pretend to yawn; and - some scientists have too much time (& money) on their hands.
If I were to think really hard about this book I suppose I'd say that it does have a tendency to the puerile and laddish in its interest in sport, underwear, poo and certain physical activities. However, in my experience, scientists (and I've known a few)tend to be big kids at heart and so have this sense of humour. Nothing in the book is offensive in any way, just amazing and funny.
This is a book to dip in and out of - if you read too much at a time you forget what you've read as the last weird fact is pushed out of your brain by the next weird fact - perhaps someone should do some research on this. It's a bit like looking a paintings in a gallery - no matter how much you want to look at them and how beautiful they are you soon reach overload and diminish the experience. It's also wise not to rush through it as pacing yourself means you can enjoy it for longer.
Reading a few pages a day will keep you interested and amused for months - not to mention anyone sitting near you.