Elentarri's Book Blog

Book reviews and other interesting goodies.

Quote: Furry Logic [Chapter 2]

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Matin Durrani, Liz Kalaugher

"The tanks are made of tough plastic, as the harlequin mantis shrimp can smash its way through glass with its powerful club. It’s pretty much the Houdini of the animal world. Kisailus has already noticed small cracks in the plastic tank of one particularly feisty mantis shrimp and says he may have to find tougher tanks still. "

 

Quote: Furry Logic [Chapter 2]

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Matin Durrani, Liz Kalaugher

"Can mosquitoes fly in the rain? It’s one of those questions it doesn’t even seem worth asking. Like, was Albert Einstein a genius? Mosquitoes thrive in the tropics, where it rains a lot. They need pools of water to drink from and to lay their eggs in. So of course they can fly in the rain. Who’s seen mosquitoes dashing for cover in a storm?

 

But hang on a minute. Raindrops plummet from the sky at nearly 10m (33ft) per second, or more than 35km per hour (22mph). The heaviest weigh 100mg, about 50 times the mass of a mosquito. Each drop is roughly the same size as the insect, but mass for mass, a stationary mosquito receiving a smack from a raindrop is like a 5,000kg (5-ton) lorry cannoning into a 100kg (220lb) human. In a downpour, a mosquito is hit by a raindrop roughly once every 25 seconds. Flying in the rain sounds like an online road-crossing game where the mosquito must constantly dodge impacts with heavy vehicles. How does it survive?"

 

Quote: Furry Logic [Chapter 2]

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Matin Durrani, Liz Kalaugher

"As if causing fatal bleeding wasn’t enough, the Komodo dragon has another trick that lets it bite then hang back somewhere safe. Before 2006, biologists thought that bacteria in the dragon’s mouth infected its prey with septicaemia. But if that were true, the inflammation would take days to kill so the predator would ‘likely not enjoy the fruits of its labour’. Wroe’s colleague Bryan Fry from the University of Queensland discovered that the Komodo injects its victims with venom, using a poison that contains shock-inducing neurotoxins as well as an anticoagulant to prevent blood flowing out of the bite wound from clotting. This blood loss/poison double whammy helps the Komodo dragon kill animals up to the size of a water buffalo, some four times larger than itself, by inflicting life-ending injuries swiftly, then retreating and waiting for its victim to die. There is definitely fire in this dragon’s bite."

 

Quote: Furry Logic [Chapter 2]

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Matin Durrani, Liz Kalaugher

"How does the Komodo dragon kill animals this big with a bite not much stronger than a cat’s? It would be a surprise if your pet turned up at the cat flap with a freshly slaughtered pig in its jaws. According to Wroe, when going in for a kill, the Komodo dragon uses a ‘can-opener’ action. "

 

BUILT by Roma Agrawal

Built: The Hidden Stories Behind our Structures  - Roma Agrawal

TITLE:  Built: The Hidden Stories Behind Our Structures


AUTHOR:  Roma Agrawal


DATE PUBLISHED:  2018


FORMAT:  ebook


ISBN-13:  978-1-4088-7034-1

_________________________________


In "Built", Roma Agrawal conveys her passion for structural engineering - for building bridges and skyscrapers.  The book is a mix of personal anecdotes regarding her experience as an engineer, stories of historical engineering feats, and a smattering of engineering concepts.  The writing style is fairly personable and chatty.  I found the information regarding the historical engineering feats the most interesting, but was ultimately disappointed in the superficial (and minimal) treatment of engineering concepts.   This would probably make a good, basic (if somewhat superficial) introductory book about sturctural engineering for someone who knows nothing about engineering or architecture, and would like to know a little more without the physics and maths.  In short, this is an enjoyable but superficial read.

 

 

OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS:

-Why Buildings Stand Up: The Strength of Architecture by Mario Salvadori

-Structures or Why Things Don't Fall Down by James Edward Gordon

-Science and the City: The Mechanics Behind the Metropolis by Laurie Winkless

-Atoms Under the Floorboards: The Surprising Science Hidden in Your Home by Chris Woodford


 

Quote: Furry Logic [Chapter 1]

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Matin Durrani, Liz Kalaugher

"The beetles have developed an unusual lifestyle to protect their larvae from this unlikely source of attack. Trees, it turns out, though not famous for their aggressive qualities, pick on young beetles-to-be. They’d probably claim it was self-defence too, as the larvae try to munch through their trunks. The trees have a number of tactics; they spew out sap and resin, or make their cells replicate at top speed. ‘These tiny larvae that you can hardly see with your bare eyes are squeezed by the dividing cambium cells and finally killed,’ says Helmut Schmitz, a fire-beetle expert at the University of Bonn in Germany. The trees’ bark is literally worse than the larvae’s bite.

 

For a fire beetle, the only good tree is a dead tree. Trees that are still alive defend themselves; trees that are dead can’t fight back. But how can an insect that’s just 1cm (less than half an inch) long kill a tree towering metres above? To find out, we should examine the insect for super-powers. "

Quote: Furry Logic [Chapter 1]

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Matin Durrani, Liz Kalaugher

"So the squirrel changes its behaviour depending on the kind of snake it confronts: hot tail for a rattlesnake, cool for a Pacific gopher snake. But let’s look at things from the rattlesnake’s point of view. How do we know it’s deterred by ‘seeing’ extra infrared radiation beaming from a squirrel tail? Perhaps the reptile would slither off even if the squirrel waved a tail the same temperature as the rest of its body.  Rundus couldn’t ask a squirrel if it would mind keeping its tail cool. Instead he did the next best thing and built a biorobotic squirrel – a stuffed squirrel with a set of cylindrical cartridge heaters up its tail. Usually these devices are employed in industry for warming things like metal pipes, not squirrels, which raised eyebrows when Rundus went shopping. ‘I got a lot of interest – and laughs – when the companies found out what I was using their heaters for,’ he recalls."

 

Ground Squirrel vs Rattlesnake

Quote: Furry Logic [Chapter 1]

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Matin Durrani, Liz Kalaugher

..."one of humanity’s greatest inventions: the hot bath. Perfect for idle contemplation and the occasional Archimedes-style ‘Eureka!’ moment. Showers might save water but they don’t give you time to think. So there you are, lying in the bath with your favourite popular-science book, the scent of lavender wafting in the steam, Vivaldi in the background and a mug of peppermint tea on the corner of the tub. Bliss. You even manage to keep the pages dry when your mind wanders for a second and you wake with your mouth dipping below the surface. Hmm. Lavender soap doesn’t taste as good as it smells.

 

Still, everything else is perfect. If you cool off, that’s easily fixed. Just add more water from the hot tap and carry on doing nothing. The hot water plummets to the bottom because of gravity, then rises to the top as it’s less dense – it has fewer molecules in a given volume than the rest of your now too-cool-for-comfort bathwater. As it gains height, the hot water pulls colder, denser water from the other end of the bath to the place it’s just left. The result is a convection current that mixes everything up and distributes the heat without you having to lift a finger (though a quick swoosh with your hand works wonders even more quickly).

 

Convection – the second way of transferring heat – occurs in all liquids and gases because their atoms or molecules can move about freely. Conduction, in contrast, works best in solids, where the atoms or molecules are confined near set positions and tend to be closer together, although it can take place in liquids and gases too. So you can thank two types of physics for warming you up in the bath: convection moves the hot water to you and conduction gets the heat into your body, just as it warms a she-male garter snake in a mating ball. All’s well again.

 

Eventually your fingertips become pale and wrinkled and you decide to get out. Disaster! As you heave yourself out of the tub, water dribbling down your body, you realise your towel is in the wicker laundry basket in your bedroom. The one your aunt gave you. Curses. It was toasty warm in the bath but now you’re freezing as you scurry across the corridor, leaving sodden footprints on the carpet."

 

 

OCEAN OF LIFE by Callum Roberts

Ocean of Life - Callum Roberts

TITLE:  Ocean of Life:  How Our Seas Are Changing

 

AUTHOR:  Callum Roberts

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2013

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  978-0-241-95070-8

__________________________

 

In Ocean of Life, Callum Roberts shows how the oceans have changed - from prehistoric times to today.  His focus is on man-made changes, dealing with such topics as overfishing, destructive fishing methods, plastic and chemical pollution, winds and currents, excessive noise, dead-zones, disease, farm-fish etc.  The book is however, not all doom and gloom. Roberts dedicates the last quarter of his book to methods that may work to restore or at least diminish the negative effects humans have on  ocean life - provided people are willing to implement them.  This is a well-written, articulate, interesting and engaging book, with short chapters covering specific topics.  What happens to the Oceans is relevant to everyone on this planet, and this book provides an eye-opening summary of the importance of the Oceans and how humans have and can effect them for good or ill.

 

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory - Caitlin Doughty

TITLE:  Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory 

 

AUTHOR:  Caitlin Doughty

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2014

 

FORMAT:  e-book

 

ISBN-13:  978-0-393-24595-0

___________________________

 

This is something of an autobiography.  Caitlin Doughty muses about her experience working in a crematorium, the funeral/morturary business and her opinions about death, dying and, what happens to the corpse afterwards, and how different cultures deal with their dead.  The author is witty without being vulgar, the book interesting and well written.  I do however think the book was a bit too superficial.  She could have written so much more.

 

 

Ex Libris: Stories of Librarians, Libraries, and Lore by Paula Guran (Editor)

Ex Libris: Stories of Librarians, Libraries, and Lore - Paula Guran

All the stories in this collection involve libraries or librarians. This collection of stories is a mixed bag - some stories were great, some original, others ok, a few I did not enjoy. A book to borrow first if you are interested.

 

 

"Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature is dumb, science is crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. They are engines of change, windows on the world lighthouses erected in the sea of time."

- Barbara W. Tuchman

"Incredibly, by doing something as simple as giving the spiders graphene-laced water, they could alter the strength of the silk dramatically - making it more than three times stronger than natural spider silk, stronger than Kevlar, and mong the most mechanically robust materials ever produced. Of course, the experiment was not without side effects."

Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World by Les Johnson & Joseph E. Meany.

[Chapter 10]

"Does it make you feel safe to know that you are likely carrying around containers of highly corrosive acid in your pocket or purse? How about wihin your car? Batteries. The mainstay of our modern, connected, and electrified world is batteries. They are also the Achilles' heel of the mobile power infrastructure. Ask any electrical engineer who has studied the power grid, and they will likely tell you that the one technology that hasn't seen much improvement is energy storage. We're still basically using the same chemistry-based approach to storing electrical power that we used fifty years ago, with only marginal improvement."
Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World  - Les  Johnson, Joseph E. Meany

Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World by Les Johnson & Joseph E. Meany.

[Chapter 6]

"Working late one night, the group built the very first fullerene model from gummy bears and toothpicks. One can have the best tools in the world, but if those tools still fail then it might be necessary to go back to basics - gummy bears and toothpicks."
Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World  - Les  Johnson, Joseph E. Meany

Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World by Les Johnson & Joseph E. Meany.

[Chapter 2]

"Interestingly, fullerenes can be isolated from the black sooty material produced by candles, torches and lamps. The next time you light a candle, hold a glass or a plate just above the flame. Do you see that buildup? You;ve just made some fullerenes! This substance, called lamp black, has been used in inks, cosmetics, and colorants since ancient times."
Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World  - Les  Johnson, Joseph E. Meany

Graphene: The Superstrong, Superthin, and Superversatile Material That Will Revolutionize the World by Les Johnson & Joseph E. Meany.

[Chapter 1]