on 31 August 2000
I bought this book because I thought it would be the perfect reading for a week during some beach vacations. It was a perfect read for the occasion since you can read separate sections that do not have much connection between them. Grab it, read a bit, put it away, do the same later. This is no science book, and reading it will be very, very easy, it will require little of your attention, almost no technical background and well, even little time. Chemists and Physicists, and even engineering students might feel shocked seeing how Wolke simplifies some subjects that are complex enough to have whole books written about it, but you have to remember that this is not at all a technical book. You will learn, but you won't learn much. You will have the illusion of knowledge about heavy stuff like electromagnetism, nuclear fusion, thermodynamics and even the big bang theory and some cosmology.
But don't get me wrong, it you keep that in mind, Wolke has managed to write a very entertaining title that will keep you interested until the end. I have to admit I would drop some of the subjects and would pick other questions. I was a bit annoyed at how many pages Wolke uses talking about fat. A déjà vu feeling often happens. Wolke repeats himself a tad too much for my taste, but it is true that with some subjects it would be hard not to repeat the same facts. Still, Wolk should assume the reader isn't all that dumb and got the basics right the first time, why repeat what was already written. Wolke's sense of humour requires some getting used to. I was annoyed in the first few pages, but eventually grew to like it and it makes the book a lot more fun.
Chemistry and Physics students might get bored at some of the questions Wolke answers, but if you're not into the business and don't know too much about it, you will find it interesting, and sometimes fascinating. Not perfect, the title is a bit of a bad idea and it's only all that interesting if you don't already have a scientific background on the subjects (mostly chemistry and some physics) but otherwise, it provides entertainment, it's perfect to lighten up from more heavier science readings and you'll always learn more than reading Calvin & Hobbes. :-) Go for it, I recommend it.
on 18 May 2014
Its a cracker and a dream of a book which provides answers for all those question asked but no one knew the answer, well this book does. How does soap know what dirt is, What makes super glue - super, How come you can melt sugar and not salt, Why do water beds need heaters, How does steel rust, Why do ocean waves roll in parallel to the shoreline and the best one I really liked was Why are the earth, moon and sun all spinning. You will find all the answers to these and more with plain explanation by using scientific principles so that anyone can understand.
on 27 March 1998
I must reply to comments which state that I (the author) am in error regarding mass and energy. I am not. The misunderstanding--that there are no mass changes in chemical reactions--is, unfortunately, widespread. I had hoped that my explanation in the book would dispel this misunderstanding, but alas! Yes, chemical reactions merely rearrange the same atoms. But the energies of these before-and-after arrangements are different, and hence, so are their masses--minutely, to be sure, but different nevertheless. If a chemical reaction gives off or uses up energy, where has that energy came from or went to? Mass, that's where; there's noplace else. So if energy changes, mass must also change. In chemical reactions, the amount of mass-energy transfer is indeed extremely small, but it's there nevertheless. The discussion on pages 226-228 of my book is entirely factual and correct, not an "unnecessary conjecture." I thank Arnold, however, for the other kind words about the book.
on 20 March 1998
I would like to have given this book the highest possible rating because it really is fun to read and very informative. The author has a style that makes you forget you're reading the words of a scientist because he rarely uses scientific jargon. And when he does, he apologizes.
My reason for marking him down is because of a technical error where he states (and even emphasizes) that energy in ordinary chemical reactions comes from the conversion of matter. The results of ordinary chemical reactions are the same atoms as before the reactions (by definition - otherwise it would be a nuclear reaction), just arranged in different configurations and, usually, in different molecules as well. Each atom has exactly the same mass as before so the sum of the masses of the reactants equals the sum of the mass of the resultants. There is no conversion of matter. The good professor loses credibility for all of his book by this one unnecessary conjecture.
on 16 December 1997
I have been interested in Science from childhood but know not that much. Not much improved even after I read the book. However, now, my attitude toward Science is really changed: Science is not so difficult, not so useless in actual life like the way I studied at classes. Instead, t is enjoyable and very useful for everyday life. A must read for those who don't like Science.