Life Ascending rises to the top

21 October 2010

Winner of the Royal Society Prize for Science Books announced.

Nick Lane’s explanation of life as we know it has risen to the top of the judges favourites to win the annual Royal Society Prize for Science Books.  Life Ascending was announced the winner at the Royal Society on Thursday 21st October 2010.

In Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution, Nick Lane charts the history of life on Earth by describing the ten greatest inventions of life, based on their historical impact, their importance in living organisms and their iconic power. 

Nick Lane said: “I’ve been following the prize since its inception and I know it’s the highlight of the year for many scientists.  The prize stands for getting the best science to the widest audience possible and I hope that it attracts funding next year and continues for as long as possible.”

Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, presented the £10,000 prize to Nick Lane at an award ceremony held at the Royal Society.  Life Ascending has triumphed over other strong contenders in the shortlist, including Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw’s Why does E=mc2? and James Hannam’s God’s Philosophers to win the prestigious award for science writing.

Maggie Philbin, Chair of the Judges (1) said: “Life Ascending is a beautifully written and elegantly structured book that was a favourite with all of the judges.  Nick Lane hasn’t been afraid to challenge us with some tough science, explaining it in such a way that we feel like scientists ourselves, unfolding the mysteries of life.  Science writing shouldn’t patronise readers, it should help them to develop their scientific thinking and apply it to the world around them, something exemplified by this wonderful and engaging book.”

The six books shortlisted were:

We Need To Talk About Kelvin by Marcus Chown (Faber and Faber)
Why Does E=mc2? by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw (Da Capo Press, Perseus Books 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)
Life Ascending by Nick Lane (Profile Books)
A World Without Ice by Henry Pollack (Avery Books, Penguin Group)

The authors of each shortlisted book were awarded £1000.  The Royal Society is seeking support for the 2011 awards onwards.

Share this page

Latest news

  • To beard or not to beard 16 April 2014 A study published in the journal of the Royal Society Biology Letters has found that when growing facial hair, men might like to inspect the stubble of their peers. The more people with beards, the less attractive they become.
  • Royal Society Fellows respond to UN climate mitigation report 14 April 2014 The latest UN climate report, the Working Group III Summary for Policymakers from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): 'Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change' was launched yesterday. Professor John Shepherd FRS and Professor Andrew Watson FRS commented on the report.
  • Irish President visits Royal Society 09 April 2014 As part of his state visit to the UK the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins visited the Royal Society. His visit was a celebration of the scientific links between Ireland and the United Kingdom.

For a full archive please see the news pages.