What Eats Wasps: Review

October 31st, 2006 by Potato

For my birthday, Wayfare picked up a copy of “What Eats Wasps?”, a book by New Scientist magazine basically containing a selection of their last page reader question/answer articles. It was a pretty good choice: I like books full of weird and vaguely useful facts, and wasps are scary so it’s well suited for just before Halloween.

From New Scientist’s point of view, this had to be an incredibly easy book to put together: take a bunch of articles that are already written, and combine them into a book to sell again. However, they didn’t seem to do a very good job with that. Part of the problem seems to stem from the fact that the articles were originally published with metric units, and for the book these were converted to units that would be “more familiar to Americans.” It’s mistakes like these that keep costing us Mars probes. The unit conversions seem to have been completely screwy, because I can’t make sense of most of the examples given: one talks about how big a person would have to be in order to have enough fat around their internal organs to stop a bullet before it hit anything vital. “For a man 16 [sic] feet tall…”. About 2/3s of the way through the book, they seem to have given up, and left everything in metric.

It was a bit of an interesting read, but I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone. Maybe if you can find it in the library and just want to flip through, or if you can just read the articles right out of the magazine…

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