A science reporter with a finely tuned sense of the ridiculous, Gorman writes the ``Lighter Elements'' column in Discover magazine where most of these pieces first appeared. He is an admirer of such low-tech objects as toothpaste pumps and improved flush mechanisms. He reports on a flea ranch, where dogs and cats are used to test repellent collars; on a racetrack that has turned its byproductmanureinto a thriving garden business; on overwintering Canada geese. He inspects a ``micro'' pig at Colorado State University, follows his horoscope by computer program, fights Japanese knotweed in his own back yard. Gorman reminisces about his collection of junior science equipment; on the subject of odor memories, crayons are to him what petit madeleines were to Proust. Other reflections range from genetic projects and antique seeds to brain chemistry. Gorman respects science but is not overawed by it. (April)
Several years ago a formerly ``serious'' science writer stumbled across bezoar stones (calcified ruminant hairballs that allegedly can detoxify poisoned beverages) and hasn't been the same since. Now a columnist for Discover (where these pieces were previously published), Gorman reflects on toilet tank fill valves, the hazards of Greenwich geese, obsessive aquarists, and other equally ludicrous subjects. He may scandalously paraphrases whomever he pleases and display an outrageous sense of logic, but the result is a set of delightfully funny essays. This reviewer plans not to miss a future Gorman column. Totally irrelevant, irreverent, and highly recommended. Laurie Bartolini, Lincoln Lib., Springfield, Ill.