Friday, July 1, 2011
BOOK REVIEW: Inflight Science: A guide to the world from your airplane window
Author: Brian Clegg
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Release Date: June 2011
The perfect companion to any flight - a guide to the science from your window
There are few times when science is as immediate as when you are in a plane. Your life is in the hands of the scientists and engineers who enable tons of metal and plastic to hurtle through the sky at hundreds of miles an hour.
Inflight Science shows how you stay alive up there - but that's only the beginning. Brian Clegg explains the ever changing view, whether its crop circles or clouds, mountains or river deltas, and describes simple experiments to show how a wing provides lift, or what happens if you try to open a door in midair (don't!). On a plane you'll experience the impact of relativity, the power of natural radiation and the effect of altitude on the boiling point of tea. Among the many things you'll learn is why the sky is blue, the cause of thunderstorms and the impact of volcanic ash in an enjoyable tour of mid-air science.
Every moment of your journey is an opportunity to experience science in action: Inflight Science will be your guide.
Brian Clegg is a science writer. He runs popularscience.co.uk and his most recent book was Armageddon Science (St Martin's Press, 2010).
Brian Clegg’s Inflight Science attempts to tackle what is a very complex – and potentially scary – topic and present it in a digestible and informative way. How risky exactly is air travel? How do baggage scanners work? Why does a ‘plane stay up in the air? Why does airline food taste so bad? And why can’t you make a perfect cuppa at 30,000 feet?
The book covers a lot of ground, and as well as what's mentioned above, we look down at rivers to consider their formation and urban areas to think about how they developed; we look at the Earth's atmosphere and weather events; and we consider aspects of the behaviour of the Sun, moon and planets. Because of the amount of material, after considering briefly one aspect of the plane or our surroundings, we are often quickly on to the next thing.
I found myself comparing the style of writing to that of Triple J science guru Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and thoroughly enjoyed the explanations of scientific facts in layman’s terms that even someone like me could understand.