Do Elephants Jump?
In some of my Imponderables books, I think the questions are more fascinating or funny or surprising than the answers. But Do Elephants Jump? is definitely not in that category. I love many of the answers in my latest tome.
For example, a reader wanted to know how birds figure out where to peck for worms. Perhaps this isn't the sexiest question of all time, and it certainly isn't the most important. But it turns out there have been two major studies of this very subject, decades apart -- and they disagree. And the scientists involved were willing to talk to us on the record about whether birds "find" worms by using their ears, their nose, their mouth, their beak, their sense of touch, or random pecking. How would you construct experiments to prove the proclivities of birds? The scientists tried some doozies (unfortunately, no birds (or worms) were willing to talk to us, on or off the record).
More than ten years ago, a reader wrote asking why dictionaries indicated that the days of the week were supposed to be pronounced "Fri-DEE" and "Mun-DEE" instead of "Fri-DAA" and "Mun-DAA." It took us many years to assemble an all-star team of dictionary editors and lexicographers, and they were willing to explain why pronunciation guides in many dictionaries seem downright wacky.
What does Campbell's do when they sell alphabet soup to countries that don't use our alphabet? Do they market Cyrillic soup? Hebrew soup? When we talked to two folks in marketing at Campbell's, they didn't have a clue. But eventually, we got the scoop.
Why are CD's released on Tuesday? Why does orange juice taste so awful after you've just brushed your teeth? Why do you sometimes find ice in the urinals of restaurants and bars? Just like my readers, I've wondered about all this stuff, and the answers were unexpected.
To celebrate this tenth book of Imponderables, we've included a master index of all ten Imponderables books and Who Put the Butter in Butterfly? is included at the end of Do Elephants Jump?. Now you can instantly find in what book an Imponderable or Frustable was first discussed, and follow the discussion in subsequent volumes. Cool, huh?