Curious questions about the world
Seriously Curious: The Facts and Figures that Turn Our World Upside Down by Tom StandageAn interesting collection of recent short explainers originally published by The Economist to provide quick facts, figures and explanations on some aspects of the world, some of which may appear contradictory.
The book is divided into several sections, each of which contains explainers for some of the questions raised. The sections range from the very generic questions about the world to more specialised topics like food, economics (of course), science, technology, sports, words and holidays.
I have read quite a number of the explainers when they were originally published by The Economist, so much of the material in the book is already familiar to me. Even so, there are some explainers that I missed that explain some aspects of the world in a new light.
All the explainers are brief, at most only a few pages, with some occasional graphs. But they fulfil the aim of the book, which is to explain some interesting and unusual aspects of why some things in the world are the way they are now.
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A few years ago I was taking a tour of a dome shaped house, and the architect explained to me that domes are an optical illusion. He went on to explain that since domes have no corners, that from the inside they appear larger than what they really are, and from the outside, they appear smaller than the space of another house with a comparable footprint.
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Sometimes the flat ground next to a tall tree can be hit. A car or other enclosed metal structure is the safest place to be in a thunderstorm. Failing that, a ditch, trench or group of shrubs of uniform height is better than nothing. Keep away from boundary areas between dissimilar terrain water and land; rock and earth; trees and fields. Also keep at least five metres away from metal objects or other people as lightning will often jump from one object to another. Fingerprints are formed semi-randomly as the foetus develops in the womb andare affected by such things as chance fluctuations of hormone levels. Similarly, the pattern of freckles and moles on the skin is caused by random mutations and will vary between identical twins.