Macmillan Children’s Books, £5.99, ISBN 978-1-4472-1252-2
Sports Science, 2012
Interestingly, unlike the other Science Museum book by this author that I read previously, Does Farting Make You Faster? is a coherent and easy-to-read book. This is especially a good thing as the subject at hand here is sports science. That is, the author will explain the physics behind popular sports ranging from football (soccer to Americans) to skiing. We’ll be looking at things like balance, motion, air resistance, drag, and more with a considerable amount of biology (centered around the nervous and muscular systems of the body).
I’d be fast to confess that physics isn’t my favorite topic as most of the time numbers come up, and numbers scare me. Also, most of the time the concepts are pretty abstract when presented in words. The author, therefore, deserves plenty of credit of making things readable and pretty easy to understand here without sacrificing substance. Of course, he doesn’t get too deep into things, as this is a popular science book aimed at young kids and not college students, but the basics are here to give those kids a head start of sorts in developing an interest in the topic. The science here is also complemented by bouncy descriptions of sports rules and trivia, just to keep things lively.
If I have a complaint, it’s the same one I have for other Science Museum books: the illustrations are often disjointed from the text. Mike Phillips’s illustrations are nice to look at, but it would be nicer if there are illustrations to complement things mentioned in the text rather than just cute cartoons for the sake of being cute. When the author talks about the motor cortex, for example, a cute picture showing where that is in the human body would have been more useful than the illustration of two kids playing ping-pong on that page. The cute illustrations have their place, of course, to avoid this book coming off too much like a textbook, but at the same time, I think there should be a balance, especially when some concepts are better off presented in illustrations and diagrams than words alone.
At any rate, Does Farting Make You Faster? is, despite its irreverent title, a pretty solid introduction to the subject of the human body and all the fun things it can do in the name of sports. It won’t help college students ace their classes, of course, but it’s a fun read that gets the brain working while entertaining it at the same time.