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Sunday, 9 September 2012
This is Improbable by Marc Abrahams
You may know the name Marc Abrahams from his weekly Guardian column, called 'Improbable Research.' Or you may even know him as the founder of the Ig Nobel Prize, a parody of the famous Nobel Prize, where prizes are given for "first make people laugh, and then make them think".
If you are not aware of Marc Abrahams, well you are in for a treat. His most recent book, This is Improbable, investigates some of the most weird and wonderful experiments conducted and scientific papers written. These experiments tackle some of life's big questions, do high heels cause schizophrenia? Why do some people go bald and not others? How much space should you leave between you and your neighbour, sunning themselves on the beach? Abrahams also makes us aware of exotic papers, under the headings 'May We Recommend.' One of my person favourites of these being 'Determining the Smallest Migratory Bird Native to Britain Able to Carry a Coconut by Hopton, Jinks and Glossop.
This is a popular science book that's all about the humour, which works brilliantly. There are so many fascinating studies in this book, they will keep you mulling them over for ages. Some are almost frustrating due to their pointlessness and others are ridiculous, yet completely understandable. This is the kind of book you will be referring to little funny facts from for years to come. Maybe a little bit too light heart for the lovers of more intense popular science but that's the point. An enjoyable, funny, light hearted look at the weird and wonderful side of scientific research.
Buy This is Improbable by Marc Abrahams from Waterstones here.