Science fiction and fantasy
by Brian Clegg
There's a lot of physics, a fair bit of geography, and rather less of other branches of science. It's presented in a light, undemanding style that mixes in entertaining trivia and a friendly tone. There are also plenty of illustrations and various boxed-out experiments to try out, some of which can be done on an aircraft or at home. There are even a few experiments clearly marked as too dangerous to try unless you want to get arrested, included in order to make a point. It amounts to a very easy read, which is just as well. As is explained in the chapter on Cabin Life, low air pressure, dehydration and jet lag mean that air passengers won't be at their sharpest, so light reading is ideal.
I enjoyed Inflight Science because it explains the concepts behind so many different aspects of flying very clearly. From cosmic rays to crop circles, via cloud formations and cabin pressure, it deals with an ambitious range of topics. This does mean it's brief and a little superficial. However it does manage to say something about each subject rather than skirting round them, and in the process the book reveals quite a few startling facts about air travel. By bringing together such a range of disciplines the author has created a book with something new and amusing to offer all but the most well-informed polymaths.
5th September 2011
If you like this, try:Storm In A Teacup by Helen Czerski
Helen Czerski takes a look at how physics affects everything we do, whether it is making a cup of tea or powering our lives.
Physics Of The Future by Michio Kaku
An examination of how science could shape the world of 2100, and how it can help us to predict the near future.
Electrified Sheep by Alex Boese
A look at some of the stranger experiments carried out in the name of science.