Skip to main content

Game – Guesstimaster ****

Some while ago on our old site I reviewed a game called The Art of Science, which was a science-based quiz. Although I thought the game was great, I have had a lot of troublepersuading a large enough group to play it – those who usually resort to any question but science in Trivial Pursuit (and that’s quite a lot of people) would struggle hugely. The trouble is that unless you are playing in an academic institution, the chances are there will be a proportion of people around the table who just aren’t interested in science.
Now we have another game from the same people where numbers are at the heart of things, but I think (I hope) that it will be more of a general interest. That’s because it (thankfully) isn’t a mathematical general knowledge quiz, but instead a quiz where the aim is to guess closest at the size of a number (how many hairs on a typical human head, for instance), with points for getting in the right order of magnitude and for being closest, plus an optional equivalent of the old Monopoly Chance cards.
Apart from the name, which like The Art of Science is a bit clumsy I think this game has great potential. I love the board which is a logarithmic spiral growing from 1 to vast numbers – it even has little hints along the way to the kind things that are on that scale.
Time will tell if it will be as difficult to get people to play Guesstimaster as its predecessor… but I hope not, because it’s a great idea. It’s not cheap – £39.59 including shipping – but it is something that is different and well worth a look.
Available from the Academic Board Games web shop.
Review by Brian Clegg

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Superior - Angela Saini *****

It was always going to be difficult to follow Angela Saini's hugely popular Inferior, but with Superior she has pulled it off, not just in the content but by upping the quality of the writing to a whole new level. Where Inferior looked at the misuse of science in supporting sexism (and the existence of sexism in science), Superior examines the way that racism has been given a totally unfounded pseudo-scientific basis in the past - and how, remarkably, despite absolute evidence to the contrary, this still turns up today.

At the heart of the book is the scientific fact that 'race' simply does not exist biologically - it is nothing more than an outdated social label. As Saini points out, there are far larger genetic variations within a so-called race than there are between individuals supposedly of different races. She shows how, pre-genetics, racial prejudice was given a pseudo-scientific veneer by dreaming up fictitious physical differences over and above the tiny distinct…

Where are the chemistry popular science books?

by Brian Clegg
There has never been more emphasis on the importance of public engagement. We need both to encourage a deeper interest in science and to counter anti-scientific views that seem to go hand-in-hand with some types of politics. Getting the public interested in science both helps recruit new scientists of the future and spreads an understanding of why an area of scientific research deserves funding. Yet it is possible that chemistry lags behind the other sciences in outreach. As a science writer, and editor of this website, I believe that chemistry is under-represented in popular science. I'd like to establish if this is the case, if so why it is happening - and what can be done to change things. 


An easy straw poll is provided by the topic tags on the site. At the time of writing, there are 22 books under 'chemistry' as opposed to 97 maths, 126 biology and 182 physics. The distribution is inevitably influenced by editorial bias - but as the editor, I can confirm …

The Art of Statistics - David Spiegelhalter *****

Statistics have a huge impact on us - we are bombarded with them in the news, they are essential to medical trials, fundamental science, some court cases and far more. Yet statistics is also a subject than many struggle to deal with (especially when the coupled subject of probability rears its head). Most of us just aren't equipped to understand what we're being told, or to question it when the statistics are dodgy. What David Spiegelhalter does here is provide a very thorough introductory grounding in statistics without making use of mathematical formulae*. And it's remarkable.

What will probably surprise some who have some training in statistics, particularly if (like mine) it's on the old side, is that probability doesn't come into the book until page 205. Spiegelhalter argues that as probability is the hardest aspect for us to get an intuitive feel for, this makes a lot of sense - and I think he's right. That doesn't mean that he doesn't cover all …