Shocking! Hilarious! Bizarre! Mindboggling! Frightening! Fascinating! Those are the catchwords that appear on the cover of the new Anita Roddick book, Numbers, a short paperback filled with some of the most entertaining and intriguing trivia, all of it related to… numbers.
The authors, David Boyle and Anita Roddick, introduce us to the wild and wacky world of numbers, reminding us that these mysterious digits are not always what they seem. In fact, the world of numbers delves deep into the most basic elements of life itself, as the building blocks of mathematics, geometry, physics and just about every other field of scientific study.
But in this little book, it’s all about the trivia, with dozens of facts and statistics that will truly shock, scare, tickle and/or fascinate you. For example, we learn that 3.7 million Americans have claimed to be abducted by aliens, and that fifty-one percent of Britons sleep naked. Did you know that the average amount of time U.S. medical students spend studying nutrition is only 2.5 hours? Or that the average Italian eats 82 miles of spaghetti in a year?
Not that this stuff will get you a job or a promotion if you have a job, or even a date (although there is a whole chapter on love-related statistics), but it is great fun to learn about the world around us via numbers and statistics and percentages. The book also provides short anecdotes about people and events related to numbers, such as the first real accountant – a friar who hung out with Da Vinci. Or the infinite poetry machine developed by a French writer. Then there are the futile attempts by scientists to measure love...
But the real fun is the trivia – the number of mobile phones eaten by dogs in the U.K. every year: 1 million. There are also some disturbing statistics involving war and military spending, drugs and medicine and environmental topics. Who knew that two thousand children are killed EVERY day in warfare situations, or that the U.S. still spends $96 million every day on nuclear weapons, or that women own only one percent of world assets? Or that sixty million people could be provided with clean drinking water per year for the cost of one submarine?
Numbers boggles the mind with things you never knew, never really wanted to know, and even some things you need to know, and it does so in a way that makes you gasp, laugh, shudder and shake your head in dismay as you turn each chock-filled page. But hey, whether or not you will ever need to know that five Americans are injured by shopping carts every hour, it sure comes in handy at parties!