Farmer Buckley's Exploding Trousers: And Other Odd Events on the Way to Scientific Discovery

Front Cover
Stephanie Pain
Profile Books, 2011 - History - 214 pages
In August 1931, New Zealand farmer Richard Buckley hit the local headlines - or rather his trousers did. One minute they were drying in front of the fire; the next there was a huge blast and a ball of flames. Farmer Buckley's trousers had exploded. The culprit? A popular pesticide of the day, which when combined with clothing fibres unexpectedly formed a highly combustible compound. This incendiary story is a striking example of how scientific advances meant to improve people's lives can sometimes backfire. Contrary to the widespread belief that science and technology move steadily on from one discovery to the next, the fascinating stories in this entertaining collection present some of the unfamiliar characters and events that litter the path of scientific progress, where setbacks and mishaps are the norm, and breakthroughs are the exception.

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User Review  - MiaCulpa - LibraryThing

A good range of short stories on some of the stranger moments in science. It's great to read of unsung heroes of science, especially when they are getting beaten up or all but drowned for the cause ... Read full review

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User Review  - murderbydeath - LibraryThing

Excellent series of essays/short stories about some of the more interesting ways science has advanced throughout the ages. One or two are cringe worthy, but almost every single one of the stories ... Read full review


1 No pain no gain
2 Bad timing
3 Who dares wins
4 Persistence pays
5 Fingers crossed
6 Dont call us
7 Reality check
8 War and peace
9 Make do and mend
10 Sleuthing with science
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About the author (2011)

Farmer Buckley's Exploding Trousers is compiled and edited by Stephanie Pain, a consultant for New Scientist with a PhD in deep-ocean biology. She created and for ten years edited New Scientist's popular 'Histories' column, where the stories in this book started out.

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