Freakonomics for middle-school children.
252 pages, ★★★★
Science is Golden is as informal as its cover suggests. It’s a humorous tour of science from the highly relevant (plane travel) to the highly irrelevant (black holes). Each chapter is clearly illustrated and contains no more than five pages of text.
The author not only contemplates (and subtly mocks) absurd theories about a 2012 apocalypse, and busts dozens of myths with scientific evidence, but also loads his writing with interesting facts that go beyond the original topic of each chapter. We learn about the iridescent keratin structures in peacock feathers; the difference between a meteoroid, a meteor and a meteorite, and the origin of the 40,000 tons per year that the Earth gains in mass. Most memorably, we learn about the structure and function of a spotted hyena’s clitoris. You’ll be amused and surprised.
Everything in this book is presented with calmness, balance, and undertones of fun. It touches on sex (e.g. the spotted hyena chapter), but even those parts are written in a very responsible way. The language level, fonts and cover design of this book are clearly aimed at a young-teenage age group. And I’d have no hesitations in recommending it my own science students.
Where Freakonomics is for high-school students, and Stephen J. Gould is for university students, Science is Golden is for middle school students. Let Dr Karl Kruszelnicki convince them that science is cool. ★★★★
- Book: Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions (jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com)
- 2012 Mayan Apocalypse Rumors Have Dark Side, NASA Warns (livescience.com)
- Scientists baffled by gargantuan black hole (latimes.com)