Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World -- A.J. Jacobs

A.J. Jacobs decides to go through the daunting task of reading all 32 volumes (32,900 pages) of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and does! The result - this book, a compilation of strange, very interesting facts associated with each word he reads, augmented by his own sarcastic humor about the fact and intertwined with funny events in his life, mostly around his quest for knowledge.

Oysters can change sex according to the termperature of the water. I always knew there was something emasculating about warm baths.
The Greek interrogation mark became the English semicolon. Bizarre, no;
This member of the grasshopper family is named for its unique mating call, which sounds like a psychotic witness: "Katy did, Katy didn't, Katy did, Katy didn't."
A Russian nobleman patented a coffin that allowed the corpse-if he regained consciousness after burial-to summon help by ringing a bell. A good idea. Because that could really screw up your week-to wake up and fine yourself in an airless coffin. I guess nowadays they could put cell phones in there.

An encyclopedia with fun oddball facts. Would make for a nice coffee table book too, given you can turn to any page and spend just a couple minutes to be entertained and informed.

Tidbit: Some other people who have read the entire Britannica: Isaac Asimov, Richard Feynman, C. S. Forester and George Bernard Shaw.


Sandeep Karanth said...

Sounds very interesting.... This was the book you were telling me about on Pongal I guess... :) I will definitely check it out....

bubbles said...

lol on the katydid :-D

need to borrow this soon from you

Harini Sridharan said...

anytime! :)