Beware of falling penguins

October 3, 2006

Book recommendation: Why Don’t Penguins’ Feet Freeze?, based on the Last Word correspondence column in the New Scientist magazine. Has answers to the sort of question that stops you from getting to sleep at night (unless you’re like me and fall asleep before the head has a chance to hit the pillow). An example:

“WHY do birds never fall off their perches when sleeping?

They have a tension arrangement in their legs. The flexor tendon reaches down from the muscle in the thigh over the knee, round the ankle and then under the toes. This means that, when at rest, the bird’s weight causes it to bend its knee and pull the tendon tight – so closing the claws.”

Thank goodness for that. Otherwise it would be dangerous walking under trees at night knowing that at any minute a penguin might fall on top of you.

I wonder if the book has answers to life’s really important question, though, like why is it that as soon as you throw something away you find you needed it?

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