My Books

HOW TO DUNK A DOUGHNUT: THE SCIENCE OF EVERYDAY LIFE

ISBN 0297607561 (hb); 0753817055 (pb)
Weidenfeld & Nicolson (2002)

Len Fisher attracted media attention around the world with his experiments on the physics of biscuit dunking. His studies resulted in the receipt of a spoof ‘IgNobel Prize’ award, a letter of commendation from the Government Chief Scientist, and a nomination by The Times newspaper as an ‘Enemy of the People’.

Here he tells the true story behind this and other projects in which he looks at everyday phenomena and reveals how they can be used as a key to open a door to science. In doing so he shares his insider’s perspective of what scientists do, why they do it and how they go about it.

The book provides scientific answers to such familiar questions as how to dunk a biscuit, how to check a supermarket bill quickly, how to use DIY tools more efficiently and how to use the laws of thermodynamics to boil the perfect egg. It shows the reader how to catch a ball scientifically, which vegetables absorb the most gravy, and even how science can improve your sex life.

Science is all around us, and this brilliant book shows you where to find it and how to put it to good use.

“Scientists, like hangmen, are socially disadvantaged by their trade.”

“… guests at parties, having discovered that I am a scientist, usually turn to my wife and ask her what I do, rather than approach me directly.”

“This book is for them, and for everyone else who wants to know what scientists really get up to.”

Chapter Headings

1. The Art and Science of Dunking
Using physics to work out the best way to dunk biscuits and doughnuts
2. How Does a Scientist Boil an Egg?
James Bond was right
3. The Tao of Tools
Science in the home workshop
4. How to Add Up Your Supermarket Bill
Quick calcs at the check-out
5. How to Throw a Boomerang
Including world records in the TV studio and at the South Pole
6. Catch as Catch Can
Does our brain act as a high-speed computer when we run to catch a ball?
7. Bath Foam, Beer Foam and the Meaning of Life
The thin molecular divide between life and death
8. A Question of Taste
The science of gastronomy
9. The Physics of Sex
How the sperm that is the best physicist wins the race to the egg
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