Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Science made simple

Starting, I think, on 14 April, the UK's Independent newspaper is issuing a series of booklets called 'Science Made Simple', based on extracts from the Very Short Introductions series published by Oxford University Press. As you might guess, I am offering this little advert for them because some are written by me. They've chosen extracts from my volumes on molecules and the elements (originally published as Stories of the Invisible (2001) and The Ingredients (2002)) for three of the booklets, on 15, 16 and 20 April. Of course, the others will be splendid too, ranging from Earth sciences to cosmology to the brain.


JimmyGiro said...

Phil, I just perused Richard Dawkins collection of "Modern Science Writing", and there you were... absent!

Has God turned his back on you!?


Philip Ball said...

Ah well, I don't kid myself that I can really rub shoulders with such exalted company. I make no claims for myself, but it does strike me as a little surprising that no great modern science writing (with the exception of Greene, perhaps?) has apparently been done by anyone under the age of, say, 55. The book looks like a nice collection, but reiterates the strangehold that John Brockman's "Third Culture" crew has on the public perception. Fortunately, book awards committees no longer seem to see things that way, ha ha! (I don't just mean me, but David Bodanis, Mark Buchanan and others.)
It's probably more of a scandal that Dawkins has apparently kept Jim Lovelock out... (His contempt for Gaia is well known.)

Philip Ball said...

Goodness me, people are actually reading this thing! In the light of a conversation I had this morning, I should make it clear that I have no pretensions of really warranting a place in the OUP volume. I wasn't simply using the word 'exalted' ironically; there's no one in the list who isn't justified in being there, or who could really have been omitted. And in any event, there are many others in the queue ahead of me (John Barrow, Matt Ridley, John Gribbin...). What's more, it's clear from the selections that the perspective is primarily historical ('modern' only in the broad sense), which means that it draws on writing that has stood the test of time.

So thank you for the thought Jim, but I'm not ready to be brought into God's presence yet. (I prefer to think of Richard as the pope, in any case.)

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