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Royal Society 2010 Prize for Science Books Longlist Announced

16 June 2010

The longlist for this year’s Royal Society Prize for Science Books – the world’s most prestigious award for science writing – has been announced.  The judges selected a longlist of twelve books:

We Need To Talk About Kelvin by Marcus Chown (Faber and Faber)
The judges said: “We found ourselves applying ideas from this book to the world around us, turning suppositions on their heads and understanding complicated scientific concepts far more easily than we expected.

Why Does E=mc2? By Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw (Da Capo Press, Perseus Books Group)
The judges said: “It’s the most famous equation that exists but few people actually know what it means.  This book could change that – it’s beautifully written and not afraid to tackle really challenging physics.”

Why Evolution is True by Jerry A. Coyne (Oxford University Press)
The judges said: “There are lots of books on Darwin and evolution, but this is a marvellous entry point - really engaging with wonderful historical anecdotes.”

In Search of the Multiverse by John Gribbin (Allen Lane, Penguin Press)
The judges said: “This is a book that aims to tackle difficult, complex questions in physics and succeeds, managing to both explain things and leave us pondering the subject for days afterwards.”

Everyday Practice of Science: Where Intuition and Passion Meet Objectivity and Logic by Frederick Grinnell (Oxford University Press)
The judges said: “Don’t be put off by the cover, this is the most accessible and comprehensible book on how science is done that we’ve ever come across – indispensible to anyone who wants to understand the science behind the headlines.”

God’s Philosophers: How the medieval world laid the foundations of modern science by James Hannam (Icon Books)
The judges said: “This book is a revelation, contradicting the popular idea of the Middle Ages as the “dark” ages, mapping key progressions during an era none of us associate with scientific advances and celebrating the lesser known mathematicians, “philosophers” and anatomists on whose shoulders modern science stands.

Storms of My Grandchildren by James Hansen (Bloomsbury)
The judges said: “This book, from a key figure in climate science offers first hand insight into the politics and vested interest that surrounds the debate. An excellent, authoritative and important history of climate change research, written in an engaging way.”

Darwin’s Island: The Galapagos in the Garden of England by Steve Jones (Little, Brown)
The judges said: “Many books on Darwin focus on the Galapagos as if Darwin came home and that was it. This book redresses the balance, delving into ideas Darwin developed from his studies of the English countryside that surrounded him.”

Life Ascending by Nick Lane (Profile Books)
The judges said: “This book is a well thought out exploration of the building blocks of biological science – straightforward and convincing.”

The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGilchrist (Yale University Press)
The judges said: “McGilchrist welcomes you straight into his world, without making too many presumptions about what you already know, presenting beautiful ideas in an eminently readable and engrossing manner.”

Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell (Oxford University Press)
The judges said: “This book does a great job of connecting different fields to provide an accessible, interdisciplinary introduction to the complicated subject of complexity.”

A World Without Ice by Henry Pollack (Avery Books, Penguin Group)
The judges said: “This book gives a clear historical picture of the relationship between ice and climate . A very accessible and powerful perspective on climate change.

Maggie Philbin, Chair of the judges, said: “There were some fascinating books in this year’s entries, all of which explore science in very different ways.  Narrowing it down to just twelve was very challenging and left us with a wonderful, diverse longlist that we’re all looking forward to really getting our teeth into.

This year’s longlist includes eight authors who are new to the prize, three who have been previously shortlisted and one previous winner (Steve Jones, who won in 1994).

The judges on the judging panel are: Maggie Philbin, Radio and television presenter (Chair); Professor Tim Birkhead, Fellow of the Royal Society; Tracy Chevalier, author; Robin Ince, stand-up comedian, writer and actor; Dr Janet Anders, Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow.

The shortlist will be announced on 24th August 2010. The winner will be announced at a ceremony at the Royal Society on 21st October 2010 and awarded £10,000. The authors of each shortlisted book will receive £1000.

The Royal Society is seeking support for the 2011 awards onwards.