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Posted By Peter Bentley
For the last week or two, more people than usual had been asking me about The Undercover Scientist. Today one of my students explained why - Waterstones has the book on their recommended reading list. I had a look for myself this evening... he was right.


 
Posted By Peter Bentley
In November last year my book for doctoral candidates The PhD Application Handbook was reviewed in a newsletter. I didn't like the review very much - it was biassed, factually incorrect, and the reviewer had poor knowledge of the topic. Write enough books (and speak your mind often enough) and you always end up with one or two reviews like that. I normally have a rant to my friends ("but that's just wrong!", "did they even read it?", "are they stupid?") and then forget about it. This time (I can't remember why), I wrote my rant down and sent it to the publisher of the newsletter - the UK Council of Graduate Education. To their credit, they appear to have actually published my author's response in the next newsletter. If only I could correct every annoying review like this! You can read my (slightly annoyed and clearly frustrated) words by clicking here.

 
Posted By Peter Bentley
The Book of Numbers seems to be out living a life of its own now. I found out last week that the German translation is now available: "Das Buch Der Zahlen." I've just received a copy and it looks good (although my German is too poor to judge whether I'm still saying the same things in this version). I think the Korean translation is out there too... I have yet to see it.

Also, according to my publisher, the British version was reviewed by The Royal Society of Popular Science and in a newsletter. (I have no idea what that is - but that's what the publisher said...) They also ran a competition on their website to win copies of the book, which was advertised in their newsletter from mid March to mid April. And apparently Answer Bank (a popular culture site with quizzes and competitions)“ had a banner on their homepage and in their newsletter. I can't find any of it online now, so I guess I missed it.


 
Posted By Peter Bentley
Today I was doing research for another book idea, perhaps a sequel to The Undercover Scientist. I was checking 3D red-cyan glasses just to provide an example of how some materials absorb certain frequencies of light. To my surprise I discovered that more than one web site seemed to be giving a very misleading explanation of how 3D glasses work, giving a picture that shows red emerging from a blue filter, and blue emerging through a red filter. So I sent an email to let them know... and this nice little debate followed:

Please note that the image from "how stuff works" explaining how the 3D glasses work is incorrect. A red tint only lets red light through and a blue tint only lets blue light through.

Thanks for your concern. The arrows in the image represent the image that each eye views.

Blue lens filters the blue and only allows that eye to see red image and the red filters the red and only allows that eye to see the blue image.

That's not right. Blue filters let blue light through, and will block red images. Red filters only let red light through. That's why the light appears blue or red through them - they block all frequencies other than their colour.

If you don't believe me - try it. We have a red laser here that is blocked by a blue filter, but passes through a red filter - as you would expect. The diagram is therefore incorrect.

So explain How the decoder (Red) lens works: With your idea when looking through red lens it would only see red image. Wrong! Red filter blocks everything that is red in the image and only allows the blue hidden message to be reveled. Or How the Wobble viewer works: Blue strip of film lets you see red image and red strip sees the blue image. Works the same for 3d Anaglyph.

Test it yourself: Type the word red in red and the word blue in blue on a white screen, look through the red lens, the only word you will see is the word blue.

By the way: You are the only one to complain in the 5 years it has been up. I did not create image, but copied it from another site.

OK, I did your experiment. Red written in red, blue written in blue. I look through a red filter and I see the word blue more clearly. This is because the blue text is now darker, the red text remains unaffected, and the white background has been filtered so that only the red frequency comes through. The red filter blocks the blue light, making the blue appear black. It lets the red light through unchanged.

So I repeat - a red filter only lets red light through, including the red of the text and the red in the white background. It does not let the blue light through, which is why it appears black. Same applies in reverse for the blue filter.

You are confusing light and dark here. As for why no-one else has complained... I couldn't say. But I am a scientist, based in University College London :)

Okay. I accept that. When ever I get a chance I will fix the image by changing the arrows (red to blue and the blue to red). I have not updated in 2 years and I am currently working on 80 2d to 3d images for one project due in 2 weeks time. Doesn't give me time to keep up with web page. (Just 1 artist for - Glasses design, 2d to 3d conversions, custom die -cut, lens effects, in house promotion, and web.)

Not your fault, William. I know the originator was howstuffworks.com. It's good of you to be thoughtful enough to care.

Good luck with the 3D work, and thanks for a nice discussion.

And this is the incorrect diagram that seems to be confusing so many people. As I hope you can work out, only blue arrows should emerge from the blue filter and red arrows from the red filter. Watch what you believe!


 
Posted By Peter Bentley
Dunod, the French publisher that will translate and publish The Undercover Scientist in their "La science des petits riens" series have also recently done the same for the Times book Never Shower Under a Thunderstorm. They just showed me the illustrations for the Times book and asked if they could use the same illustrator for The Undercover Scientist. The artist will create several "humouristic" illustrations, presumably of some of the mishaps in the book. I said yes - I thought they looked great. See one of them for yourself: