Why Don’t Penguins’ Feet Freeze? is another selection of questions from ‘The Last Word’ section of the New Scientist magazine. Following on the success of Does Anything Eat Wasps?, this book combines questions from two previous books that had managed to slip under the public’ radar, and adds some new questions. Twenty years after the column started, it’s still going strong and even has a web page where you can post questions: The Last Question online
The questions in Why Don’t Penguins’ Feet Freeze? were posed and answered by readers of the New Scientist magazine. Some answers come from experts at universities or scientific establishments. Others come from people with an interest in or knowledge of the subject. Questions range from everyday (Why does hair go grey? Why does grilled cheese go stringy?) to somewhat off-beat (Is it a coincidence that your index finger is the right size to fit in your nose?). Most branches of science are covered in the book. Several of the questions are posed by primary school (grade school) children. These questions are treated as seriously as those posed by adults. Not all the answers are serious; one question regarded stumbling to the left after a few pints and one respondent suggested that the person posing the question had all his change in the left pocket! Not surprisingly for a book published in Britain, one of the longest answers regarded making tea with freshly boiled water.
Why Don’t Penguins’ Feet Freeze? is another great book to dip into. I learned something new and interesting with almost every question. You could read it cover-to-cover in one sitting, but you might suffer information overload from that much knowledge in one go.