Radar, Hula Hoops, and Playful Pigs: 67 Digestible commentaries on the fascinating chemistry of ordinary life

Joe Schwarcz is Director of McGill University's Office for Chemistry and Society. He hosts a weekly radio call-in radio show in Montreal and also writes a column about chemistry in everyday life for the Washington Post. The essays in this book are collected largely from his radio show, and they are exactly in the spirit of "Hal's Picks". These short (a few pages each) discussions of the chemistry that everyone experiences daily are entertaining reading, and provide the kind of connections that make chemistry fun to teach and to learn. Did you know that only about 25% percent of the population produces methane in their flatulence, or that Brazil nuts are an excellent source of dietary selenium? Dr. Schwarcz has several selections in the book about pseudoscience, from supposed hair-growing concoctions to Laundry Disks and homeopathy. Apparently it was felt that formulas and chemical structures would make the book less accessible to the general public; there are places where they would enhance the discussion. I also wish that the book had references to the chemical literature. "Radar, Hula Hoops and Playful Pigs" was reviewed by Jay Labinger in Journal of Chemical Education 2000 76 834.

Publication information
Pick Attribution: 

Joe Schwarcz

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, January 1, 2002