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HOW TO DUNK A DOUGHNUT [Paperback]

LEN FISHER
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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One of the main problems that scientists have in sharing their picture of the world with a wider audience is the knowledge gap. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent Offering Dec 13 2013
By Rob Slaven TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Fisher's offering is a work written by a scientist but well and accurately aimed at the non-scientist. Where many before him have failed, Fisher has succeeded in crafting a work which does well at dancing the line between too technical and downright insulting. The author very carefully defines his terms once upon first use and then rightly expects his audience to remember them. He is accessible without being annoying.

As to his content, Fisher is widely varied while staying fundamentally true to his background in physics. In his 200 pages he touches on liquid uptake of permeable foods (the eponymous dunking of the doughnut), the protein transition of cooked eggs, the physics of simple tools, math tricks to make your trip to the supermarket less costly, boomerangs, beer foam and ball games. He closes with chapters on the physics behind the sense of taste and human sexuality.

Throughout, Fisher provides not only factual content but historical anecdotes to lighten the mood a bit. Most memorably for me, he relates the brief tale of an Australian man in the 1930s who protested loudly and publicly that the use of an erect penis during intercourse was simply too forceful. He argued that a flaccid state was more respectful and appropriate and one that allowed the woman to draw the instrument of insemination into herself at a time of her own choosing. Personally I suspect this was a case of a movement founded in the fertile ground of a personal shortcoming but regardless of the cause for the statement, it does give one a proper sense for the character of the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to read Feb. 14 2004
By claire
Format:Paperback
It is very rare to find an author who writes with such enthusiasm about their subject, particularly in this kind of field. The information isn't just presented in a factual way, it is made into interesting accounts of the author's (sometimes failed) experiments, that can be related to tribulations of everyday life, such as knowing when the Sunday roast is cooked! As a student, I found this book very interesting and worthy of the highest praise.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Pepper and Handsprings Dec 8 2003
Format:Hardcover
As a non-science oriented person, I found myself skipping around in this book, skimming parts about claw hammers and boomerangs, but reading the entire chapter on supermarket bills. Frankly, that doughnut on the cover got my attention, and the fact that I had just heard about the Ignobel Prize on the radio, which the author of this book has won.
I enjoyed the chapter on The Physics of Sex, but had to read the notes to find out why a woman taking the antidepressant clomipramine supplemented her dosage with pepper. (You'll have to read it yourself, I don't want Amazon removing my review!)
In addition to making science more accessible, Fisher makes scientists seem more human. He describes colleagues of his reacting to successes by singing, shouting, and one who removed all his clothes and did a series of handsprings. Now that is a happy scientist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The scientific mind at work .... and loving it May 12 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
With an enthusiasm that is clearly contagious, the author applies scientific reasoning and methodology to better understand certain things in everyday life that we may take for granted. Topics that are examined under the microscope of the author's sharp and witty mind include: the science of cooking, the scientific principles behind tool usage, boomerang design and throwing, quick determination the cheapest supermarket, the physics of sex, and more. The author's excitement in describing his scientific approach to these matters stands out - much as an excited child describing the joys of discovering something new and wonderful, but in a clear, lucid, even funny, way. Complete with lots of diagrams and charts, this book is pleasure to read. The author has definitely succeeded in clearly illustrating how the scientific method and the scientific mind work, and all this in a most enjoyable way.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The scientific mind at work .... and loving it May 12 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
With an enthusiasm that is clearly contagious, the author applies scientific reasoning and methodology to better understand certain things in everyday life that we may take for granted. Topics that are examined under the microscope of the author's sharp and witty mind include: the science of cooking, the scientific principles behind tool usage, boomerang design and throwing, quick determination the cheapest supermarket, the physics of sex, and more. The author's excitement in describing his scientific approach to these matters stands out - much as an excited child describing the joys of discovering something new and wonderful, but in a clear, lucid, even funny, way. Complete with lots of diagrams and charts, this book is pleasure to read. The author has definitely succeeded in clearly illustrating how the scientific method and the scientific mind work, and all this in a most enjoyable way.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not as enthusiastic as the others April 22 2006
By Nicholas Sterling - Published on Amazon.com
This book didn't work for me as well as it apparently did for others. I do think that it succeeds handily at two important things: showing how science is involved in everyday things, and showing that while we tend to think of science as an ivory-tower exercise for super-geniuses, much of science is actually a process involving intuition, experimentation, collaboration, persistence and luck that any reasonably intelligent person can contribute to if they are interested.

My problem with the book is that parts of what he talks about just didn't hold my interest well, e.g. How To Add Up A Supermarket Bill and The Art And Science Of Dunking. And Catch As Catch Can left me thinking that surely what happens in the human brain is quite different from the complex sort of computation he talks about.

I did like parts of the book, but I liked the book "The Secret House" better (although perhaps it is unfair to compare them because "The Secret House" does not dive so deeply into any topic).
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure to read Feb. 14 2004
By claire - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It is very rare to find an author who writes with such enthusiasm about their subject, particularly in this kind of field. The information isn't just presented in a factual way, it is made into interesting accounts of the author's (sometimes failed) experiments, that can be related to tribulations of everyday life, such as knowing when the Sunday roast is cooked! As a student, I found this book very interesting and worthy of the highest praise.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent Offering Aug. 25 2012
By Rob Slaven - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Fisher's offering is a work written by a scientist but well and accurately aimed at the non-scientist. Where many before him have failed, Fisher has succeeded in crafting a work which does well at dancing the line between too technical and downright insulting. The author very carefully defines his terms once upon first use and then rightly expects his audience to remember them. He is accessible without being annoying.

As to his content, Fisher is widely varied while staying fundamentally true to his background in physics. In his 200 pages he touches on liquid uptake of permeable foods (the eponymous dunking of the doughnut), the protein transition of cooked eggs, the physics of simple tools, math tricks to make your trip to the supermarket less costly, boomerangs, beer foam and ball games. He closes with chapters on the physics behind the sense of taste and human sexuality.

Throughout, Fisher provides not only factual content but historical anecdotes to lighten the mood a bit. Most memorably for me, he relates the brief tale of an Australian man in the 1930s who protested loudly and publicly that the use of an erect penis during intercourse was simply too forceful. He argued that a flaccid state was more respectful and appropriate and one that allowed the woman to draw the instrument of insemination into herself at a time of her own choosing. Personally I suspect this was a case of a movement founded in the fertile ground of a personal shortcoming but regardless of the cause for the statement, it does give one a proper sense for the character of the book.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anecdotes tell of science's applicability to people Nov. 9 2004
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Dr. Fisher was award an IgNobel Prize in 1999 for his work on the physics of cookie dunking, and his How To Dunk A Doughnut extends his research into the everyday world in an effort to relate science to everyday life. Anecdotes tell of science's applicability to people, from beer foam and the meaning of life to chewing and its relationship to perceptions of taste. Even the most reluctant science reader will find these vignettes compelling reading.
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