London, UK: Boxtree
2011 | 256pp | £11.99 (PB)
Reviewed by Callum Saunders
Each chapter of the book begins with a story, some plausible, some bordering on out of this world, but all are based on true events and experiments. From the invention of the modern battery, which involves questionable relations between a man and his voltaic pile, to the creation of the optimal chimpanzee butler and self experimentation.
The author has two rules of exclusion for the book: anyone trying to be weird wasn't weird enough for the book. Also, no barbaric acts committed in the name of science were permitted. However this doesn't mean that it is not without the odd disgusting bit. For example the section Do-it-yourselfers is a rather more sinister approach to self experimentation that can become quite gruesome.
All of these strange and unusual items are very well structured and written with each section cleverly leading onto the other. This is a book you can pick up and read from almost anywhere if you find a section of chapter that particularly tickles your curiosity.
Recommended for reading while travelling, sitting, eating or for escaping into the random world of experimental science - if banned from your usual laboratory.
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