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About Len Fisher
Australian-born (1942), my main achievements after a life in science have been the award of an IgNobel Prize for using physics to work out the best way to dunk a biscuit, the creation of a carrot clarinet for the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, and the invention of a champagne jelly that keeps its fizz (the more serious stuff about me and my activities is on my webite at lenfisherscience.com). My books are intended to reveal what really goes on in science, and to share the science that I love, by showing how scientists think about the important and not-so-important problems of life. I now divide my time between England's West Country and the Blue Mountains near Sydney, Australia, following the theory that an endless summer provides the best conditions for writing. The picture was taken in the mountains of Ecuador, the jumping off point for a lifelong ambition to visit the Galapagos Islands.
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Following the routine of a normal day, from coffee and breakfast to shopping, household chores, sports, a drink, supper, and a bath, we see how the seemingly mundane can provide insight into the most profound scientific questions. Some of the topics included are the art and science of dunking; how to boil an egg; how to tally a supermarket bill; the science behind hand tools; catching a ball or throwing a boomerang; the secrets of haute cuisine, bath (or beer) foam; and the physics of sex. Fisher writes with great authority and a light touch, giving us an entertaining and accessible look at the science behind our daily activities.
One experiment, involving a bed, platform scales, and a dying man, seemed to prove that the soul weighed the same as a slice of bread. But other, no less fanciful experiments and ideas led to the fundamentals of our understanding of movement, heat, light, and energy, and such things as the discovery of electricity, and the structure of DNA; improved engines; and the invention of computers. As in his previous book, Fisher uses personal stories and examples from everyday life, as well as humor, to make the science accessible. He touches on topics from lightning to corsets and from alchemy to Frankenstein and water babies, but he may not claim the last word on the weight of the soul!
Drawing on ecology and biology, math and physics, Crashes, Crises, and Calamities offers four fundamental tools that scientists and engineers use to forecast the likelihood of sudden change: stability, catastrophe, complexity, and game theories. In accessible prose, Len Fisher demonstrates how we can foresee and manage events that might otherwise catch us by surprise.
At the cutting edge of science, Fisher helps us find ways to act before a full-fledged catastrophe is upon us. Crashes, Crises, and Calamities is a witty and informative exploration of the chaos, complexity, and patterns of our daily lives.