This is a pretty random, but interesting, collection of sciencey essays built around a narrative of a "really bad day." Why Sh*t Happens by Peter J Bentley includes about three dozen essays from sour milk to lightning to burns and blisters.
The book is full of interesting science and engineering. For example, even though cheese was originally made using stomach enzymes from various mammals like cows and goats, the current source of the enzyme (rennin) comes from genetically-engineered fungus. Think about that the next time your enjoy mac and cheese, or quesadilla.
Some other surprises include that birds have a single exit point for both solid and liquid waste. This is called the cloaca and explains why bird excrement looks as it does.
Twining is a type of weaving that has been in use for around 40,000 years. It allows intricate patterns on a simple, fixed hand loom.
An interesting complexity to a CD drive is that the speed of the disc is varied to keep the velocity of the read/write head constant. The was not true for vinyl records where rotation was fixed and the needle moved faster for the outer tracks and slower for the inner tracks.
I recommend this highly as a bathroom book, one that can be picked up and put down without losing continuity. Note that the author and the writing is British, and word such as American gas/gasoline appear as the British petro/petroleum.
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2 months ago