1st Edition

Bugs, Drugs and Three-pin Plugs Everyday Science, Simply Explained

By Andrew Morris Copyright 2023
    212 Pages 108 Color Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    212 Pages 108 Color Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    For the millions who remain curious about the world around them, but gained little from science at school, this book offers a way forward. Based on live discussions with adults from all walks of life, each chapter begins with an everyday experience, like swallowing a pill or watching a bee on a flower. The main scientific ideas underlying each topic are then explored, so that understanding of a set of fundamental concepts builds up gradually throughout the book.

    In contrast to more traditional approaches to science learning, topics range freely across the subject areas. The story of Covid, for example includes aspects of biology, chemistry, mathematics and social behaviour. Plain English is used throughout and mathematical expressions are avoided. Key points are illustrated with clear diagrams and photographs.

    By drawing on questions and perspectives of ordinary people, the book offers an introduction to basic ideas in science as a whole, rather than any one particular subject. For the adult wishing to make good a gap in their understanding it provides a starting point for entering the rich world of popular science.




    Praise for the Book


    1. How do pills know where to go?

    The shape and nature of drug molecules dictate where they act

    2. Singing and navigating – the extraordinary feats of ordinary birds

    What science tells us about bird song and migration

    3. The colour of light

    The nature of light and colours of the spectrum


    4. Why we look like our parents – a bit

    The story of genes, chromosomes and DNA


    5. Atmospheric rivers

    Rain, humidity and the water cycle

    6. The perennial question of sex

    How plants reproduce

    7. The geometry of ice

    What lines on an icy pond reveal about the underlying structure of matter

    8. Very small and very busy: life inside the cell

    What goes on inside our human cells

    9. Enzymes

    Familiar to brewers and cheesemakers, but what are they?

    10. Sugar, carbs and type-2 diabetes

    The substances behind the surge in diabetes 2

    11. Sticking together

    The science of adhesion

    12. A nice warm shower

    What‘s the difference between heat and temperature?

    13. Why your ears ‘pop’

    What popping tells us about pressure, the middle ear and the atmosphere

    14. Making Decisions

    Evidence from experimental psychology about how we make choices

    15. COVID-19: viruses, lungs and epidemics

    The basic science of the pandemic

    16. COVID 19: Immunity, vaccines and variants

    The immune system and how vaccines stimulate it

    17. Energy and the Climate Emergency

    Greenhouse gases, energy and heat pumps

    18. Electricity

    What it is and where it comes from

    19. Reflections






    Andrew Morris was a teacher of physics and mathematics for many years in Further Education and Sixth Form Colleges. He subsequently set up an experimental course for adults with little background in science at the Mary Ward adult education centre in Bloomsbury, London. Sessions started from the questions participants asked and followed the course of discussion they chose, rather than a fixed syllabus. He has continued to run these discussion sessions informally for over twenty years (online during the pandemic). Records of these discussion form the basis of this book. Dr Morris also works on the use of pedagogical research to inform teaching. In this capacity he became a research manager at the Further Education Development Agency and Director of the National Education Research Forum under Sir Michael Peckham. Dr Morris has a degree in physics from UCL and a PhD in molecular biophysics from the University of Leeds. He is an Honorary Associate Professor at UCL Institute of Education and a former President of the Education Section of the British Science Association.

    There is no one who writes quite like Andrew Morris. This is a great collection of chapters on everyday science. If only more of us had been taught like this at school, our universities would be bursting with people trying to get in to study science.

    Michael J. Reiss, Professor of Science Education, University College London, UK


    I wish science in school could have been this fascinating and accessible. This book is full of ‘mind blown’ moments! I love that it’s about learning about the world through curiosity and discovery, not fusty textbooks. I love learning about the science behind everyday things without it being too complicated - or patronising. Perfect for dipping into on the train in the morning!

    Hilary Davies, Civil Servant, Kent, UK 


    With this book, Dr Morris has opened doors for the everyday person who may have thought that science was only for the brainiacs of this world. His desire to bring us all along, coupled with his cheery down-to-earthness, is refreshing and welcoming. A gem of a book!

    Janet Johnston, curious adult, Florida, USA


    In this book Dr Andrew Morris admirably achieves what he sets out to achieve – making science accessible to readers like myself, who know very little about any one of the sciences, and to bring them alive in just the way that suits the interested amateur, starting with questions we are likely to ask, proceeding by way of vivid example, plain English and exactly the right amount of science to take us all the way with him to gain the understanding we were looking for. The pitch is perfect: nothing patronising and no dumbing down, but nor are there demands on readers that only natural born scientists are likely to meet. Dr Morris is a lucid and persuasive advocate, with many years of experience of working with groups of adults doing just what he is doing in this book – helping adults to understand science for themselves. I cannot imagine a better introduction to bugs, drugs and three pin plugs than what is contained in these pages.

    John Vorhaus, Professor of Moral and Educational Philosophy, University College London, UK


    Mission accomplished! A passionate teacher determined to build confidence and knowledge in those whose past encounters with science were a turn-off, Andrew succeeds in both with his engaging and accessible book. It certainly worked for me!

    Liz Walton, retired Principal of William Morris Sixth Form, London, UK


    Andrew Morris has that rare talent for using everyday observations and experiences to unpick and explain the most complex of scientific ideas. He does so in this book, as in previous works, by tapping into our natural curiosity about the world around us. An explanation of why our ears pop during a flight and how a crisp and silvery scene was captured in the pond of a winter garden lead us to understand the science behind solids, liquids and gases.

    Ian Nash, freelance journalist, senior partner in Nash&Jones Partnership and former assistant editor of the TES, UK


    The global climate crisis and the impact of AI technologies, among others, clearly show that effective basic science education is essential for the whole population. COVID-19 has shown that we don’t have enough of it. Andrew Morris’s book makes an important contribution to addressing this deficit: it is written and illustrated clearly and straightforwardly, and organised around questions arising from everyday life. Scientific explanations are pitched at a non-specialist level, avoiding hype, and manages brilliantly to avoid patronising readers. Morris is a great science communicator and teacher.

    Dr Jay Derrick, UCL Institute of Education, UK


    At last! Fun, relatable everyday science for readers who - like me - are curious and keen to learn but haunted by classroom memories. Top marks!

    Will Lake, West Yorkshire, UK


    Although this is not a book you sit down to read at a single sitting, it is a conversation you are warmly invited to join. It is a very good conversation... It is a book by adults for adults – not because there is anything ‘adult’ about the content, but because of its style. Teachers would do well to sit down with a copy, however, and to reflect on their own ‘explanatory conversations’ in the classroom.

    Colin H. Johnson in SSR in Depth March 2023