Amanda Hardy reviews this pocket-sized textbook

science in seconds cover

Source: Quercus

Science in seconds
Hazel Muir
London, UK: Gatsby Science 2012 | Pp416 | £5.99 (HB) | ISBN9781780871448
Reviewed by Amanda Hardy

At just over 13x13 cm, this book’s size adds to its appeal, being pocket-sized and therefore easily portable. It would suit students and adults without A-levels in science, and also teachers, especially within Key Stages 2-3. It may also help academics interested in science outreach who are looking for a starting point in their explanations of science.

Key concepts in science, technology and medicine are explained in a clear and engaging manner. This is a challenging task for a single book to achieve, especially one that could fit in a pocket. It is written in a fairly conversational style. Explanations are occasionally simplified by the use of similes, for example describing laser light as being like a marching army. Simple diagrams are used to clarify descriptions and formulae are present only when vital to the explanation of a concept. Where formulae are used they are supported by an explanation in words of what this means and how it applies to everyday life. 

Covering 200 key concepts, the book is unable to explain everything, but it tries its best by the use of cross-referencing and a glossary. There are occasional examples of definitions rather than full explanations. This is excusable due to the vast scope of current scientific knowledge and the mention of many of the key topics within this book. Some interesting facts are also included, such as the ability of some animals to see ultraviolet light.

The subject matter covered ranges from the endocrine system to quantum entanglement and exosolar planets. I like this book because it explains up to date science simply and highlights some new challenges and opportunities for the future. It is a good starting point which could encourage the reader to dig deeper and find out more.

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