Why does a ball bounce? Can cows walk down stairs?

Why does a ball bounce? 
Adam Hart-Davies 
London, UK: Ebury Press | 2005 | 224 pp | ?14.99 (HB) | ISBN 0091902681 
Reviewed by Mary Daniels 

Can cows walk down stairs? 
Paul Heiney (ed) 
Stroud, UK: Sutton Publishing | 2005 | 276 pp | ?12.99 (HB) | ISBN 0750937475 
Reviewed by Mary Daniels 

2005 has seen a spate of question and answer books on science. Some of these give good answers to questions that nobody is asking, while others give poor answers to the questions for which many readers would love to have the answer. These two books by popular writers/broadcasters are a mixture of both. 

Why does a ball bounce? gives answers to 101 questions which the author claims to be all the essential questions about life, the universe and everything. Leaving aside this ridiculous claim - after all who is asking the question What inspired the cloud chamber? - I found the book a very interesting one with lots of facts and information which I did not already know.  

Hart-Davies is a good communicator and ambassador for science, and at least in written form one does not have to endure his irritating presentational style. The book is lavishly illustrated with spectacular photographs which add greatly to the enjoyment of what is a genuine coffee-table book for a wide readership.  

Can cows walk down stairs? has been put together by Paul Heiney, with help from a team of people listed in the introduction. It is aimed at a more popular level than Adam Hart-Davies’ text, and the questions are intended to amuse as much as to inform - the answers are well written and informative, without being overly technical. Presumably Heiney’s questions such as Is eating snot bad for you? What stops you rotting before you die? and Why doesn’t the chocolate in chocolate chip cookies melt when the biscuits are being cooked? are not important enough for Hart-Davies to consider but I found the answers fascinating. The Heiney book is not nearly so glossy as the Hart-Davies’ one, having only a few cartoons and no photographs, but at least the reader gets more words for the money.