Why Can’t Elephants Jump contains questions and answers submitted by readers of New Scientist magazine. Each submission is signed with the name and location of the person who wrote in, although there are times when the submission is anonymous. While this doesn’t always give us an idea of the expertise of the author (some of the writers sign with their job title, and are indeed experts), it does give the reader the advantage of having many different answers from different angles.
Some of the questions submitted are things that we might all have wondered at one time or another, like whether a martini really does taste different if shaken rather than stirred, and why. Some of the answers are very scientific and may not be easily parsed by the layperson. I would have appreciated it if the publisher would have given USA units in parentheses after metric measurements. I know that metric is what nearly the entire world uses, and is the more scientific and accepted system, but the fact remains that most Americans have trouble with the metric system and would have an easier time reading and understanding this book with both measurements given.
Why Can’t Elephants Jump? isn’t the kind of book you can sit and read for long periods of time–I tried. Instead, I think it is much better as a coffee table, or even a bathroom book. The articles are short enough that you can flip through and pick one to take a few minutes to read, then walk away a little wiser and somewhat entertained. If you have an interest in learning some of the scientific reasons for basic questions, you may want to check out this book.