The Skeptic Book Contest – Hair of the Dog and Other Scientific Surprises

Karl Sabbagh’s ‘The Hair of the Dog and Other Scientific Surprises‘ is a collection of quirky scientific knowledge that will definitely make you the [scientific] life of the next party you’re at.

Science is full of surprises: the peculiar peepshow beginnings of baby incubators; the unexpected positive fallout from the H-bomb; the dinosaurs that caused sonic booms; the irrational nature of the number pi; the fifth taste sensation lurking in everyone’s taste buds which nobody knew about (except for the Japanese).Whilst shedding light on these conundrums, Karl Sabbagh shows that seemingly trivial queries or assumptions lead to a deeper understanding of how science works. Who would have thought that scientists would turn to the hypothesis ‘All swans are white’ to determine the stability of the entire universe? Or that if we choose to spend our hard-earned money on other people it might make us happier than if we spend it on ourselves?

If you’ve ever been amazed by what scientific discovery has shown us about the world (like why the hair of the dog really works!), you could win a signed copy of this book from Karl Sabbagh and The Skeptic. To enter, simply tell us your favourite ‘Scientific Surprise’ in the comment section below or email competition[at]

There’s no right answer for this one, just awesome science.  The contest closes Friday the 18th at 5pm GMT.

4 thoughts on “The Skeptic Book Contest – Hair of the Dog and Other Scientific Surprises

  • Tuesday, 8 December, 2009 at 20:41

    At a time when more than 100 world leaders discuss in which state we should leave the planet to future generations, global warming is without a doubt the hot topic (without bad play on words) of the moment and I can t stop myself from sending a few of findings which originally came to me as a scientific surprise.
    The 2 great things about the expulsion of a mixture of gas that are by-products of the digestion process of a mammals are that 1/ it provides us with attractive headlines from reputable names in our medias such as: “Cow farts collected in plastic tank for global warming study” (telegraph) where the article is illustrated with a picture of a cow wearing a bright pink plastic tank, “Cows’ farting and burping must be brought under control!” threatens the Independent, and I will stop here to avoid excess of triviality that could potentially harm the point I am trying to make. The second great thing is that it actually allows us to reflect on our mass consumption of meat and our production methods and look at alternatives which looks well on its way after a couple of scientists created meat out of English lab. The English are keeping up with the tradition of offering poor food generation after generation which in one sense could be seen as commitment.
    A scientific report published in California recently claimed that dairy cows in the area were producing almost 20 pounds (almost 10 kg) of gas every year, each. Now, that s a seriously huge amount!
    If that figure is accurate, it could mean that cow farts were causing more global warming than pollution from cars in that region, as millions of cows live there. That region is California, the region the highest number of cars in the world.
    Yes, that s what I m getting at. When in 2006, I was first shown a serious article on cow’s farts being one of the major explanations of major natural phenomenon affecting billions, I went “wow”!

  • Thursday, 17 December, 2009 at 15:14

    Here are a bunch of facts from the Telegraph but my favourite is that apparently it would take 8 years, 7 months and 6 days of yelling to produce enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.

    I guess it depends on the size of the cup though.

    Love the sound of the book. No pun intended.

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