Joe Schwarcz tells it like it is. Whether he’s plumbing the mysteries of chicken soup or tracing the development of polyethylene, Schwarcz takes a little history, adds a dash of chemistry, and produces a gem of an essay every time. I wish he’d been my chemistry professor when I was in school. — Christine Gorman, senior writer, Time Radar, Hula Hoops, and Playful Pigs really does "tell it like it is" in 67 short, entertaining, and informative pieces about chemistry in everyday life. Find out the latest about homeopathy and alternative medicine. Fill up on facts about soybeans, tomatoes, tea, ginseng, chicken soup, hot dogs, and the benefits of eating chalk. Explore the science behind Alice’s strange adventures in Wonderland, Rumpole’s deadly cheese soufflé, and Casanova’s experiments with "Spanish Fly." Investigate the nefarious chemistry of the KGB, the colors of urine, and the mysteries of baldness. Find out how virgins can reduce anxiety and how Chinese Restaurant Syndrome may increase it. Learn how shampoos really work, and discover which cleaning agents must never be combined. Get rid of that skunk smell in a jiffy, and get a whiff of what’s behind the act of passing gas. Take a painless glimpse into the discovery of anesthetics. Read about the ups and downs of underwear, the invention of gunpowder, zombies in Haiti, Van Gogh's brain, John Dillinger's chemical exploits, little Mikey's exploding stomach, and Dinshah Ghadiali's bizarre attempts to cure disease with colored lights. Even Houdini makes a magical appearance. Finally, discover the amazing links between radar, hula hoops, and playful pigs!
"It is hard to believe that anybody could be drawn to such a ‘dull and smelly’ subject as chemistry until, that is, one picks up Joe Schwarcz’s book and is reminded that with every breath and feeling one is experiencing chemistry. Schwarcz gets his chemistry right, and hooks his readers."
— John C. Polanyi, Nobel Laureate
"Dr. Schwarcz has written a book that has done three things which are difficult to do. First, the book is enormously enjoyable–it commands and holds your attention. Second, it explains science and scientific phenomena in a simple and yet accurate way. And third, it stimulates you to think logically and in so doing, it will lead to a scientifically literate reader who will not be so easily misled by those who wish to paint science and technology as being a danger to humankind and the world around us.
— Michael Smith, Nobel Laureate