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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
We all have a knee-jerk reaction to blurt out answers to questions about what's the biggest, tallest, most dangerous, etc. But like many of the better quiz shows, the answers often require thinking a little more broadly. "When did the last Ice Age end?" The answer is that we are still in it. But you could easily start to answer with when the last ice age that ended was over.

This reminded me of the oral exam I had to earn honors in college. The three professors started off by asking me which peace treaty ended the Hundred Years War. I thought and thought and couldn't think of one. I told them that answer and felt like a fool. It turned out there was no treaty. So beware of the way questions are phrased.

Despite my warning, the authors caught me several times jumping to conclusions about what the question meant, even though I knew the answer to what was intended. That gave me a good laugh at myself.

The better questions were ones that raised issues of contrast: "What's the largest thing a blue whale can swallow?" It's not as large as you might imagine.

I had fun with the book. It was a good time filler for a long, many-stop plane trip. It would also be a fun read for a few minutes before falling to sleep . . . probably giving you something interesting to think about as you doze off.

My only concern was that one of the answers didn't fit my experience . . . the one about which way the water swirls into the drain in the northern and southern hemispheres. I was actually on a ship once that kept going north and south of the equator, and the direction of the swirls shifted with our location relative to the equator. I'm not convinced this answer is right that it's the shape of the basin and drain that counts for the direction of the swirls. I don't remember seeing any swirls in the southern hemisphere that weren't opposite to the ones I've seen in the northern hemisphere.

As a result, I wonder if the answers came from book or Internet research rather than painstaking research. If so, don't bet your last five dollars on any of the more obscure answers. They might be wrong.

But have fun anyway.
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We all have a knee-jerk reaction to blurt out answers to questions about what's the biggest, tallest, most dangerous, etc. But like many of the better quiz shows, the answers often require thinking a little more broadly. "When did the last Ice Age end?" The answer is that we are still in it. But you could easily start to answer with when the last ice age that ended was over.

This reminded me of the oral exam I had to earn honors in college. The three professors started off by asking me which peace treaty ended the Hundred Years War. I thought and thought and couldn't think of one. I told them that answer and felt like a fool. It turned out there was no treaty. So beware of the way questions are phrased.

Despite my warning, the authors caught me several times jumping to conclusions about what the question meant, even though I knew the answer to what was intended. That gave me a good laugh at myself.

The better questions were ones that raised issues of contrast: "What's the largest thing a blue whale can swallow?" It's not as large as you might imagine.

I had fun with the book. It was a good time filler for a long, many-stop plane trip. It would also be a fun read for a few minutes before falling to sleep . . . probably giving you something interesting to think about as you doze off.

My only concern was that one of the answers didn't fit my experience . . . the one about which way the water swirls into the drain in the northern and southern hemispheres. I was actually on a ship once that kept going north and south of the equator, and the direction of the swirls shifted with our location relative to the equator. I'm not convinced this answer is right that it's the shape of the basin and drain that counts for the direction of the swirls. I don't remember seeing any swirls in the southern hemisphere that weren't opposite to the ones I've seen in the northern hemisphere.

As a result, I wonder if the answers came from book or Internet research rather than painstaking research. If so, don't bet your last five dollars on any of the more obscure answers. They might be wrong.

But have fun anyway.
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on November 21, 2010
I think my title says it all. I loved this book and I like knowing that I'll always have it in my library. It got a lot of new interesting facts; some stuck some not. But that's what makes it worth its money I can always reread it when I'm bored.
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on April 27, 2015
Want a laugh buy this book! Fantastic...
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