Mad Science: Einstein's Fridge, Dewar's Flask, Mach's Speed, and 362 Other Inventions and Discoveries That Made Our World

Edited by Randy Alfred. Little, Brown, $19.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-316-20819-2
An eclectic calendar of scientific breakthroughs, this compilation of WIRED magazine's "This Day in Tech" feature is, unsurprisingly, a mixed bag. Meant less to be read straight through than to be dipped into at random, the book feels a little bit like a less capacious version of Wikipedia's "random article" function (and with, it must be said, about equal odds of landing on something both interesting and well-written). A sampling of entries from solstices and equinoxes would include "Columbia's Microgroove LP Makes Albums Sound Good" (June 21st, 1948), "The Curies Discover Radium" (December 21st, 1898), "Twitter Takes Flight" (March 21st, 2006), and "1792: Day One of Revolutionary Calendar" (September 22nd 1792). With a proliferation of questionable science and technology writing particular to our cultural moment, it's difficult not to feel a little assaulted by constant, unsubstantiated appeals to the faculty of wonder; then again, it's difficult to speak badly of such a good-natured little anthology—its slightness is part of its charm—an amusing novelty, mostly fascinating. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/07/2013
Release date: 11/01/2012
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