Years ago, I read a bit of advice in The Whole Earth Catalog, which said a great way to get up to speed on a subject you are interested in is to read a children's book about it. It's excellent advice, and I've made use of it many times over the years. My second grade daughter recently wrote a report on Frederick Douglass. I knew very little about Douglass, but she had a Scholastic book about him, so I read it in 20 minutes. I now feel like I know almost everything I will ever need to know about him, and I have a great deal of admiration for this American hero. If I had purchased an adult-level biography of Frederick Douglass, I don't know if I would have ever opened the book.
The best children's books are the ones that were published before 1970. After that, the illustrations started to get crappy, and the writing took a nosedive, too. There are exceptions, but I found it to be the rule.
Here's a winner from 1964: Why Satellites Stay in Orbit, by Sune Engelbrekston and illustrated by Lee Ames. It's a very short book that does a terrific job of explaining precisely one thing: why satellites stay in orbit. This is the kind of book my eight-year-old daughter can read and appreciate. It's also the kind of book I wish I'd read when I took physics in high school. Why couldn't my teachers explain how satellites stayed in orbit as clearly as this book did? Maybe they did, and I was just too busy reading Mad while the teacher was going over the subject.
Why Satellites Stay in Orbit is out-of-print, but copies can be found on Amazon for as little as 99 cents
Scientists have been experimenting with “fog harps” in arid climates as an easy way to collect potable water from fog. Via the paper: Fog harvesting is a useful technique for obtaining fresh water in arid climates. The wire meshes currently utilized for fog harvesting suffer from dual constraints: coarse meshes cannot efficiently capture microscopic fog […]
This is amazing.
The National Association of Scholars is a tiny, hydrocarbon-industry backed organization that is not to be confused with the National Academy of Sciences.
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