October 2010

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At a thoroughly enjoyable public event yesterday, shortlisted authors and judges of the Royal Society Prize for Science Books 2010 met to discuss the ins and outs of popular science books - why we read them, how authors write them and what the future holds.  After an introduction by Lord Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, the judges held a fascinating discussion about what they were looking for, what makes a good science book and what lets them down.  Each shortlisted author then spoke briefly about their book or read an extract from it, before going on to discuss questions from the audience about why they wrote their books, how they decided on their books’ titles and covers, what they saw as the most important science questions still unanswered today, and what might be perceived as an apparent lack of diversity in the authorship of science books.

The £10,000 prize was awarded to Nick Lane for Life Ascending (Profile Books).  The other shortlisted books were: A World Without Ice by Henry Pollack (Avery Books, Penguin Group), Everyday Practice of Science: Where Intuition and Passion Meet Objectivity and Logic by Frederick Grinnell (Oxford University Press), God’s Philosophers: How the medieval world laid the foundations of modern science by James Hannam (Icon Books), We Need To Talk About Kelvin by Marcus Chown (Faber and Faber), and Why Does E=mc2? by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw (Da Capo Press, Perseus Books Group).

The others on the twelve-book ‘longlist’ were: Why Evolution is True by Jerry A. Coyne (Oxford University Press), In Search of the Multiverse by John Gribbin (Allen Lane, Penguin Press), Storms of My Grandchildren by James Hansen (Bloomsbury), Darwin’s Island: The Galapagos in the Garden of England by Steve Jones (Little, Brown), The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGilchrist (Yale University Press), and Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell (Oxford University Press).

For more information about the entries, the prize and a forthcoming webcast of the event, see http://royalsociety.org/events/Science-Books-2010-ceremony/.

BSLS Conference 2011


The 6th annual conference of the British Society for Literature and Science will take place at Homerton College, Cambridge, from 8-10th April 2011.

The Society invites proposals for twenty-minute research papers ad­dressing any aspect of the interaction between literature and science, medicine, and technology; collaborative panels of three themed pa­pers; and papers or panels on the teaching of literature and science. We welcome work on literature from all periods and countries, and on all aspects of the sciences. Papers and panels that include approaches from disciplines other than English studies are equally welcome.

Presenters need not be based in UK institutions.

Please email paper proposals of up to 300 words and a short biographical note to the conference organiser Melanie Keene (mjk32@cam.ac.uk) by Monday 20th December 2010.

Any queries can be sent to Melanie Keene at the above address.

For further information on the BSLS see our website at https://www.bsls.ac.uk

The Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP) is holding a conference on 'The Book in Art and Science' in Washington DC, 14-17 July 2011.  Proposals for individual papers and panels are invited: the deadline is November 30 2010.  Questions to be addressed may include:

What tensions exist between the book in art and the book in science?  What collaborations emerge? How do these tensions or collaborations differ according to time or place? What roles have material forms-manuscript, print or digital embodiments or books, periodicals, journals, editions-played in the histories of artistic and scientific works? How does the lens of art or science inform histories of reading and readers? What does this lens reveal about histories of authorship?  How have commercial factors or economics influenced the production or distribution of scientific or artistic works? What roles have states or institutions played in the history of the book in art and science?

Museum of the History of Science, Broad Street, Oxford  (doors open 6.30)

Celina Fox will talk about her outstanding new book 'The Arts of Industry in the Age of Enlightenment.'

'Celina Fox's brilliant and beautifully illustrated opus restores the connection between drawing and technology originally embedded in the very word "art", before the Romantics turned it into a mystical effusion of genius.' (Simon Schama)

Admission free.