How to Make a Tornado, ed Mick O'Hare

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The Independent Culture

This latest book in the New Scientist series (spawned by the runaway bestseller Does Anything Eat Wasps?), is Mick O'Hare's compilation of the outliers of scientific thought.

He has trawled the 53-year-old archives of New Scientist magazine to bring together the weirdest experiments, theories and accidents man has attempted, proving that if you can imagine it, someone has probably already built it with government funding, or survived it for long enough to write a paper about it.

The book is made up of extracts from original articles with italicised "fancy that"-style comments in between them, suited to short-stint reading. There is a fantastically dry humour to be found in the descriptive nature of news journalism. You cannot beat a quotation from the anti-bear suit designer Troy Hurtubise – "If there's a weakness... it would be the chain-mail joints" – for cutting through the hubris. Although not as engaging as some of the other weird science books available, such as the more readable and informative Elephants on Acid, How to Make a Tornado will satisfy anyone with a thirst for the excesses of scientific creativity. Rupert van den Broek

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