Rules for inclusion in "Gadget Planet" appear in the introduction.
1. A gadget is defined as something you can hold in your hands.
2. It is a mass-produced, personal item that evolved from novelty to necessity.
3. Ultimately, its creation showed "paradigm shifting" powers.
The gamut of gizmos runs from the hair dryers, combination locks and garlic presses to Wi-Fi routers, derringers, smoke detectors,
Mixed in with basic facts are cleverly written asides such as "Were Ginsu knives (87) better than the competition? Nobody really seems to care. The hard-selling 1970s television ads for the blades spawned 'Saturday Night Live' spoofs, inspired Gallagher's stand-up comedy schtick and ushered in the era of infomercials." When
Some entries in "Gadget Planet" played their roles and petered into virtual obscurity (tape cassettes, floppy disks and Polaroid cameras). Other items definitely fall into fad territory (3D glasses, cocktail shakers, roller skates and boom boxes). Still others remain so commonplace, consumers take their existence for granted (zippers, umbrellas, crescent wrenches, matches and sunglasses.)
Not all readers will have used every one of these wonky wonders (laser pointer, label maker, electric guitar, sewing machine). Disagree with some of the Popular Mechanics' panelists' choices? Well, that's part of the fun of reading a list book. Create your own game of citing egregious omissions or silly inclusions. Another topic for debate: where the items rank in order of importance.
Though this review won't name the other nine contraptions that make up the top ten (along with the smartphone), the revelation of a few more bits of statistics and trivia from the home entertainment category certainly seems appropriate. In no particular order, consider, recall or learn:
-- Monday night football makes its debut in 1970.
-- Current research indicates that in
If "Gadget Planet" interests you, check out its two companion books, "101 Things That Fly" and "101 Things That Go Fast."
TWO MORE SUGGESTIONS
If you are looking for something a bit more technical and philosophical to read than what Popular Mechanics offers in "Gadget Planet" try "Stuff that Matters." Professor and scientist
A photograph provides the framework for Miodownik's discourse. Writing about the snapshot, Miodownik challenges readers to see the mundane with new eyes.
"It pictures me drinking tea on the roof of my flat. It is unremarkable in most ways ... but take away the concrete, the glass, the textiles, the metal and other materials from the scene, and I am left shivering in midair. ... To some extent, then what allows us to behave as human are our clothes, our homes, our cities ... which we animate through our customs and language."
?If reading either "Gadget" or "Stuff" sparks a spate of DIY energy, flip through "Tape It And Make More: 101 Duct Tape Activities" for inspiration. Choose from blogger-turned author
Certainly, fans of
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