Books : reviews

Robert L. Weber.
Science with a Smile.
Institute of Physics. 1992

rating : 3 : worth reading
review : 14 June 1998

A third anthology. Here the articles tend to be a little longer, and a little more serious. A sign of changing times is the increased number of entries about computers.

Robert L. Weber.
A Random Walk in Science.
IoP. 1973

rating : 2 : great stuff
review : 14 June 1998

The original and best of Weber's anthologies of anecdotes, humorous and quaint science, and spoof articles. A book to dip into many times.

Contents include: "A contribution to the mathematical theory of big game hunting" with a variety of techniques for catching lions in the Sahara -- several helpful glossaries -- "The uses of fallacy", including Proof by Assertion, Proof by Non-Existent Reference, and Proof by Infinite Neglect -- the story of the paper by Alpher, Bethe and Gamow -- N rays -- "The art of finding the right graph paper to get a straight line" -- "On the imperturbability of elevator operators" -- "The high energy physics colouring book" -- spoof examination questions including the classic 'A beam ... is passed through ... an inhomogeneous electric field, two mutually perpendicular gravitational fields, a radio frequency scalar meson field, and a wheat field. (a) Why?'.

Robert L. Weber.
More Random Walks in Science.
IoP. 1982

rating : 2.5 : great stuff
review : 14 June 1998

A further anthology. Most of the best went into the first book, but there's still enough good stuff here to make this one worthwhile.

Contents include: "Splitting the infinitive" -- Ozymandias by Shelley reviewed as a scientific paper -- measuring the height of a building with a barometer -- "Demon theory of friction" -- "Creation of the Universe: a modest proposal".