No Title
Soma Banerjee
RANDOM CURIOSITY by Yash Pal National Book Trust, 2011, 258 pp., 140
November 2011, volume 35, No 11

Random Curiosity, as the name suggests, is a compilation of the answers to almost three hundred random questions that Professor Yash Pal received. In partnership with his son, Dr. Rahul Pal, Yash Pal answers each of these questions in his own inimitable style. Most people will remember Yash Pal from the popular science programme of the eighties, Turning Point, which used to be aired on Doordarshan. Yash Pal’s ability to explain complex phenomena in a lucid style to youngsters made him a popular choice even back then. This book continues in the same tradition. These questions sent by inquisitive young minds from all over the country to Yash Pal follow no set order or logic. True to the title of the book, the questions are random. Sample the range of questions Yash Pal tackles in the book: ‘If sharing hypodermic needles can transmit the AIDS virus, why can’t mosquito bite?’ Or ‘Hindus, while doing parikrama of temples, do it in a clockwise direction while the Earth rotates in an anticlockwise direction around its axis.
Why are these opposite?’ Or ‘If we have two similar blocks of ice, one at “2000 C and the other at “200 C, and bring them together to room temperature, which one will melt first?’ These questions pertain to a variety of topics, from common sense, to science, to religion. Anything that a perplexed young mind has dashed off to Yash Pal has found a place in this book, without any discrimination. No question is too difficult or too simple in this book. These questions are not graded into levels of difficulty or grouped into similar topics, making it rather difficult to locate specific questions or topics. However, in satisfying the curiosity of young minds, Yash Pal has made every effort to give an honest and accurate response in simple words without intimidating the young reader with unnecessary complexities and jargon. Questions put to him in Hindi have been answered in Hindi!

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