Monday 30 July 2018

Czerski, Helen "Storm in a Teacup"

Czerski, Helen "Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life" - 2016

I found this book through a group on Goodreads (don't you just love Goodreads? Well, I do.) that gets together and suggests "brilliant books you've never heard of" (see my post here).

If you read the book description, there isn't much else to add, the book is about physics and how we can discover it in our lives. I have never been a huge science fan and just about went through my lessons at school by learning stuff by heart without really understanding it. I wouldn't say this was the book that finally made me understand, I've read other books about that before (like Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything") and I have reached a point where I probably have understood as much as I ever will or there possibly is to understand.

However, this is a very informative book. If only our teacher had explained us magnetism through coins in our purse or evaporation through the stains coffee spots leave.

It was a pleasure for this non-scientific person to read this scientific book and I'm glad it was suggested in that reading group.

From the back cover:

"Take a look up at the stars on a clear night and you get a sense that the universe is vast and untouchable, full of mysteries beyond comprehension. But did you know that the key to unveiling the secrets of the cosmos is as close as the nearest toaster?

Our home here on Earth is messy, mutable, and full of humdrum things that we touch and modify without much thought every day. But these familiar surroundings are just the place to look if you’re interested in what makes the universe tick. In Storm in a Teacup, Helen Czerski provides the tools to alter the way we see everything around us by linking ordinary objects and occurrences, like popcorn popping, coffee stains, and fridge magnets, to big ideas like climate change, the energy crisis, or innovative medical testing. She guides us through the principles of gases (“Explosions in the kitchen are generally considered a bad idea. But just occasionally a small one can produce something delicious”); gravity (drop some raisins in a bottle of carbonated lemonade and watch the whoosh of bubbles and the dancing raisins at the bottom bumping into each other); size (Czerski explains the action of the water molecules that cause the crime-scene stain left by a puddle of dried coffee); and time (why it takes so long for ketchup to come out of a bottle).

Along the way, she provides answers to vexing questions: How does water travel from the roots of a redwood tree to its crown? How do ducks keep their feet warm when walking on ice? Why does milk, when added to tea, look like billowing storm clouds? In an engaging voice at once warm and witty, Czerski shares her stunning breadth of knowledge to lift the veil of familiarity from the ordinary. You may never look at your toaster the same way."


  1. I've been meaning to read this one for a while, maybe I'll finally get around to it.

    1. I know how it is, there are just too many books to read.

      I haven't seen you in a while, neither here nor on your blog. I hope you are doing well!

      Best wishes,

  2. Oh, I have to get this! I passed physics only because all the tests were multiple choice. I learned nothing. My husband got degrees in math and engineering so I lean on him but I would like to learn for myself.

    1. I would have loved that, only, they don't believe in multiple choice in Germany ... This book is really nice to get a grasp of what's going on.