From “Zany Zoology” to “Medical Marvels & Mishaps,” the creators of Weird U.S. (2011) scout out wonders—mostly of the astonishing or gross-out sort—from scientific fields.
In haphazard order in each chapter but in enough detail that readers won’t feel as if they’re being barraged by unsubstantiated facts and factoids, Lake and Fairbanks report from “Weird Central” on a dizzying array of topics. These include naked mole rats and giant tube worms (their candidate for “Weirdest Animal Alive”), Mike the Headless Chicken, feuding inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, Silly Putty, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge disaster, how to produce both static electricity and X-rays from Scotch tape, the strange fates of Einstein’s brain and Ted Williams’ head, and several dozen related diversions. Though written in a casual “hey, get this!” tone (“Spider senses aren’t all that. Moth and cricket senses are much cooler”), the entries are laced with such need-to-know information as the evaporation temperature of diamond, the common ingredients shared by air and chocolate, and the difference between “ligers” and “tigons.” Photos of the aforementioned head, the bacteria paintings of Alexander Fleming, crop circles, geysering soda bottles, two-headed animals and more add equally memorable visual notes.
Riveting fodder for casual browsers and budding scientists alike. (Nonfiction. 10-13)