Context: In my room at the Kokopo Centre where we were staying during a language survey, I read this while watched by a hideous doll on the wall. Who makes these things?
Not feeling great with an allergy to the mould in this book so it was a quick read… and very interesting. Karl is well-known in Australia as a one-man myth-buster and he sets out to debunk all sorts of commonly held misconceptions in this popular science collection of articles.
I enjoyed this because, while it is obvious that Karl understands far more about the way the world works than I do, he didn’t make me feel like I was a second-class citizen for it. He patiently explains why things are the way they are and doesn’t go into any detail that you don’t need. On top of that, he has a Bryson-esque style about him that had me laughing out loud in a few places.
So, what did I learn? Well, Velcro, despite being popularised by its use by NASA was actually invented by a Swiss dog walker, you can drink alcohol while taking antibiotics, that more US history is bunk than I thought (notably Irving’s embellishment of Columbus), grapefruit juice can be life-threatening if imbibed while taking certain medications and that sports drinks are, for me at least, a waste of money. All useful stuff.
What didn’t I learn? Well, I already knew that cars don’t explode Hollywood-style on impact, that US history is often bunk, that red hair is a genetic mutation, that there is gravity in space and that I’m balding for reasons that are still pretty much unknown (which at least makes me feel marginally better about it.)
This book would make an very good addition to your bathroom and would enhance the dying practice of reading books on long-haul flights.
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