I came across an interesting book titled `What Makes Flamingos Pink?' while browsing at the Popular Book Store in JB City Square a few weeks ago. The book is a collection of trivia questions and their corresponding answers. It is written by Bill McLain who is the official Webmaster for Xerox USA.
McLain and his team handles all the queries to the company website. While most of the questions he receives are Xerox-related, every day scores of curious fact seekers write in with questions ranging from the useful to the bizarre to the downright comical, and everything in between. Here are some samples found in the book :
What does SOS stand for?
Why do golf balls have dimples?
Why are there no A and B batteries?
The questions in the book are grouped into 16 chapters, each chapter covering a certain common subject. McLain answers each question factually but in an interesting and amusing way. And he does not stop at simply giving the answer... other interesting factoids relating to the issue in question are also presented. At the end of each chapter, the author lists out some useful websites that the reader may wish to explore to further satisfy his curiosity.
This is apparently McLain's second book, the first being the intriguingly titled `Do Fish Drink Water?'. At only RM25.90 for a hard-cover version, it was a steal and I quickly snapped it up.
It is not the type of book that you have to read from front to back. I scan the contents page and pick the interesting ones that I want to read first. Even so, I have only managed to read only a few of the questions. I've selected a very trivial one to share with you, below. Well actually, it is the one with probably the shortest answer ;-)
What makes your fingers and toes become pruney after you have been in the bathtub for a while?
A thick, tough layer of skin (in Latin, stratum corneum) covers the tips of your fingers, your toes and the soles of your feet.
If you sit in a bathtub for a long period of time, or soak in a swimming pool or hot tub, your skin absorbs water and expands. Unlike the skin on the rest of your body, the skin on your fingers and toes has no place to expand, so it just buckles. This causes the skin to wrinkle, which gives it the "pruney" effect.
Okay, so now you know... but what makes flamingos pink, I hear you ask. The answer to this, akan datang...