Inflight Science (Paperback)
A Guide to the World from Your Airplane Window
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The perfect companion to any flight – a guide to the science on view from your window seat. There are few times when science is so immediate as when you’re in a plane. Your life is in the hands of the scientists and engineers who enable tons of metal and plastic to hurtle through the sky at hundreds of miles an hour. Inflight Science shows how you stay alive up there – but that’s only the beginning.
Brian Clegg explains the ever changing view, whether it’s crop circles or clouds, mountains or river deltas, and describes simple experiments to show how a wing provides lift, or what happens if you try to open a door in midair (don’t!). On a plane you’ll experience the impact of relativity, the power of natural radiation and the effect of altitude on the boiling point of tea. Among the many things you’ll learn is why the sky is blue, the cause of thunderstorms and the impact of volcanic ash in an enjoyable tour of mid-air science. Every moment of your journey is an opportunity to experience science in action: Inflight Science will be your guide.
Brian Clegg is a science writer. He runs www.popularscience.co.uk and his most recent book was Armageddon Science (St Martin’s Press, 2010).
‘What a lovely little book this is: the ultimate holiday read before the holiday’s even begun…. Author Brian Clegg clearly understands that science is only as dry as the ivy-covered professors who make it so.’
‘This is science simplified, surprising and entertaining.’
‘Everything you were afraid (very afraid) to ask is explained in this brilliant guide to the science of getting into the air, staying there and landing.’
‘‘Inflight Science,’ by Brian Clegg, is essentially an eye-spy book for adults. After passing through the traumas and trials of security (where it is unlikely, you will be pleased to learn, to get enough of an X-ray dose to damage your DNA), and settling the kids to watch movies on their seatback screen (the LCD TV, by the way, relies on the same technology as sunglasses) this book will take you through the rest of your journey. Despite the odd alarming fact it is not, however, designed to scare one off flying. Quite the reverse: its intention is to inform – fitting into that publishing niche somewhere between hard science and Schott’s Miscellany that was so successfully exploited by books such as ‘The CloudSpotter’s Guide.’ The great strength of the book is its ability to pull out from the mundane experiences of modern air travel – the contrails and cumulonimbus, the security scanners and salted snacks – to explain a wider technical point.’
‘…we should be grateful for this book from Brian Clegg, an unabashed aircraft geek. Everything about aircraft seems to fascinate him: how much they weigh, how their lavatories work, how they affect our bodies. His curiosity extends to airports, which he turns into pleasure palaces full of little-known facts rather than the dull shopping malls we normally take them to be. His book is structured as a representative flight, from check-in to customs, in which at every turn he micro-analyses the technical and scientific aspects of the experience. I consider myself reasonably competent on matters aeronautical, but he still managed to surprise me with something new on every page. For example, he digresses on why there will never be electric aircraft. The reason is that to carry the same amount of energy as 10kg of jet fuel, you’d need one ton of batteries…. With this book in hand, we have all we need to set off on our next flight with our eyes open to the sheer wonder of what is involved.’
‘Clegg’s foray into the science of air travel should be awarded some precious space in your hand luggage … The beauty of the book … lies in the way it makes you see the world afresh, learning about the way things work.’
‘Each paragraph makes the world of science easier.’
‘The perfect non-fiction equivalent of an airport novel.’
‘Light but informative … fun and accessible and the perfect book to read on your travels … it’ll leave you marvelling at the science and engineering that goes into flying.’
‘‘Inflight Science’ catches the current wave of Brian Cox-approved popular science … for those who are interested in the way things work, and have seen the films on offer on board, it’s a pleasant way of riding out the bumps.’
‘An engaging guide for the unscientific to every aspect of your flight.’
‘[‘Inflight Science’] is a revelation … In short, a whole new world of flying opens up.’
‘Imagine Leonardo da Vinci seated next to you on an airplane. . . . Brian Clegg attempts to restore something of the lost wonder of air travel . . . even as Leonardo, so fascinated by science, might have done . . . leav[ing] his readers improved for the journey and filled with a renewed sense of curiosity toward the wonders out their window.’
‘If flying in an airplane has left you with questions, Clegg will have the answers you’re looking for and then some.’
‘In other discussions of everything from jet engines to jet lag, Clegg both fascinates and informs.’
‘There’s much to be learned in this book, for both young and old.’
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