MAD SCIENCE by Randy Alfred


Einstein's Fridge, Dewar's Flask, Mach's Speed, and 362 Other Inventions and Discoveries that Made Our World
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A mostly entertaining, random assemblage of inventions or discoveries (the safety pin, the Internet) sorted by day and year, reflecting advances that led to patents or widespread adoption.

This diary of deeds comes to print via the Wired blog This Day in Tech and includes some 40 contributors’ pun-filled entries that have been edited (and shortened) by Alfred, with additional notes of what else of technological interest happened on that day or in that year. The result may invoke in readers a combination of feel-good and gee-whiz sentiments. The subjects are widely varied: The Phillips screwdriver invented to automate screw turning on an assembly line (July 7, 1936), the debut of the first Horn and Hardart automat (June 9, 1902), the installation of the first jukebox (November 23, 1889, in San Francisco), the patent for the automatic railroad couple (April 29, 1873), the invention of commercial spam (April 12, 1994). The entries also record famous birthdays (Tesla, Heisenberg), major events (Einstein’s 1905 papers, the Curies’ discovery of radium), but much of the collection’s charm lies in the more mundane: the Mason jar, the Thermos flask and the internal combustion engine. Archaeology, space science, medicine and surgery get their due, as do advances in weaponry that have led to bigger and better killing machines. This is not a text to be read in one sitting since there is no continuity from page to page, but one can imagine how useful those pages could be as a calendar in a classroom, where each day’s entry could spark a lively discussion of the science behind the discovery.

Edifying bathroom reading.

Pub Date: Nov. 13th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-316-20819-2
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2012


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