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Why Sh*t Happens: The Science of a Really…
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Why Sh*t Happens: The Science of a Really Bad Day

by Peter J. Bentley PhD

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I really enjoy quirky science texts, which is probably why Goodreads recommended this one to me. Using a storyteller's perspective, Dr. Bentley finds a way to share some interesting science by going through the worst possible day in an average person's life.

Each chapter tells part of Average's life, then something goes horribly wrong, then we get the scientific explanation of why that thing went wrong. Topics range from slipping on the soap, to why water heated in the microwave might unexpectedly explode, to the science of a rainy day; Bentley presents some fascinating science using a conversational style that will keep anyone interested.

Also included in the back is an abridged bibliography for anyone interested in reading further. To keep the list from getting too long in the book, Bentley hosts the full list on his website. He also makes himself available to correction on any of his science in the acknowledgements, which is a nice touch. ( )
  regularguy5mb | Aug 3, 2014 |
Clear and enlightening on a huge range of issues prompted by "a day in the life" of an ordinary bloke. As a non-scientist I was humbled by how much i didn't know, how stunningly complex everything is once you look beneath the surface, how many things i could scarcely understand even though this was very much for the layman, surprised that the only area that was fairly familiar to me was the IT/scams/viruses area which one tends to think of as very mysterious. More homework required on my side. ( )
  vguy | Nov 8, 2013 |
Fun, needs a couple of good illustrations. Also it was obvious that it was retitled for American release, and it was, the original ( UK ) title was ' The Undercover Scientist ' ( )
  BakuDreamer | Sep 7, 2013 |
An excellent introduction to several different areas of science and technology using a most original teaching device: one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (to quote the picture book about Alexander). Each chapter is a separate incident in the bad day---for example, filling up the car with diesel instead of gasoline, being pooped on by a bird, spilling wine on the carpet---and the rest of the chapter discusses the science behind the mishap. The wine-spilling chapter, for instance, talks about the properties of dyes and exactly what makes wine stain carpets so effectively, not to mention how to get the stains out. Other chapters discuss the workings of the human body (the digestive system, teeth, bone growth), while still others examine aspects of technology (computer storage, the history of spam/viruses, how cell phones work). Throughout, the author keeps things accessible but does not talk down to the reader. He provides lots of clever side comments along the way that kept me chuckling as I learned. And if any of the fields mentioned in this book pique your interest, there's a selected bibliography at the back and a more extensive one at the author's website (provided in the book). Overall, I enjoyed the read. There were some things I already knew about, but those were described well, and I learned a whole lot more, so I would consider this a worthy read for anyone interested in general science. ( )
  rabbitprincess | May 17, 2011 |
Author Peter J. Bentley takes the reader through a hypothetical day in which just about everything imaginable goes wrong, using each unfortunate incident as a springboard from which to launch into a discussion of some aspect of science or technology. Thus, snoozing through your alarm clock results in an explanation of human sleep cycles, accidentally sending your mp3 player through the wash prompts a chapter about batteries and why it's a bad idea to dunk electronics in water, dropping your keys into a drain leads to into a lecture about gravity, and so on. Some of the chapters simply provide very basic lessons in physics or biology, where others digress into odd little corners of human knowledge. (A look at what happens when milk goes sour, for instance, leads into a brief discourse on cheese-making.)

It's a clever conceit, and it's executed pretty well. The science content is clear and to the point, and should be quite comprehensible to those with no background in the subject. The second person narrative is occasionally a little problematic, though. I can imagine myself into the persona of this hapless victim well enough most of the time, but honestly, book, you can't accuse me of things like drinking instant coffee and not expect me to rebel a little!

I do have to say that I found this a little less engaging than the other science-of-the-ordinary book I read recently, Robert L. Wolke's What Einstein Told His Cook. I'm not sure whether that's because more of the kitchen science presented in that book was unfamiliar to me than the topics covered this one, or whether I just really shouldn't have read two of these so close together. Whichever it is, I think that's more my problem than this book's. It's certainly a pleasant and informative enough read, if you're the sort of person who's interested in short, scientific explanations of the world around you. ( )
2 vote bragan | Sep 28, 2010 |
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What causes the mishaps that can ruin your day? Here, scientist Peter J. Bentley tackles the realm of everyday disaster through a highly empirical approach informed by wit and humor. Bentley explores accident on a molecular level, arming you with an essential understanding of what went wrong and explaining how to prevent future bouts of misfortune. Science is respected, trusted, and according to Bentley, widely misunderstood. When your car engine is damaged by the wrong gasoline or the milk goes bad in the fridge, science is not to blame, but rather can provide an explanation.--From publisher description.… (more)

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