Thursday, 10 October 2013

Answering big questions from little people

What do David Attenborough, Noam Chomsky, Derren Brown, Bear Grylls, Miranda Hart, Heston Blumenthal (oh, and me) all have in common? They've all contributed to a great little book where assorted folk give answers to questions about life, the universe and everything by young people aged 11 and under, pulled together to form a solid little hardback. And to make things even better, the profits from the book go to the NSPCC.

Opening it at random, I can discover:
  • What is DNA?
  • How come planes don't crash in the sky?
  • Why are bumble bees disappearing?
  • Why do stars twinkle?
  • and
  • Who killed the last dodo?
Although the answers are phrased to be suitable for primary school children, many of the questions will entertain and test any reader. (Speaking of tests, there are some fun little quizzes towards the back.) The topics aren't all science - Miranda Hart, for instance, answers Why is it funny when someone farts? (okay, that is probably psychology, but there are also, for instance, history questions) - but science does rather dominate, which apart from anything reflects how interested young people are in science. If only we could keep that interest alive.

The only real criticism I have is the deeply unsatisfying answer to 'What is the whole point of science?' given by biologist John Gurdon, whose entire reply (to a 7-year-old) is 'Science makes continuous advances in the quality of life.' That's really not good enough.

It's a great project that I'm proud to have been part of, and makes a lovely present for primary age children.

You can see more at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com (hardback and Kindle).

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