Cloudspotter makes waves at Royal Society

17 November 2011

Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s The Wavewatcher’s Companion has won the 2011 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books.  The winning book was announced at the Royal Society on Thursday 17 November 2011.

Winton Prize 2011

In The Wavewatcher’s Companion, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, takes time out from cloudspotting to explain what waves are and explore how they appear everywhere around us.

Gavin Pretor-Pinney said: “I’m really grateful to the jury, Royal Society and Winton Capital Management.  What interests me in science is that it follows from being curious about the world around us.  I hope my book motivates others to be curious too!”

Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society, presented the £10,000 prize to Gavin Pretor-Pinney at an award ceremony held at the Royal SocietyThe Wavewatcher’s Companion triumphed over other strong contenders in the shortlist, including Guy Deutscher’s Through the Language Glass and Alex Bellos’s Alex’s Adventures in Numberland to win the prestigious award for science writing.

Richard Holmes, Chair of the judges, said: “Popular science is an increasingly important genre, and this is an increasingly important prize.  At the heart of the scientific enterprise is a desire to explore our world, and to understand it better.  The Wavewatcher’s Companion used relatively straight-forward science to transform our perspective on the world around us, both visible and invisible, in a completely radical way.  From Mexican waves to electro-magnetic waves, it gave us a new delight and fascination in our immediate surroundings. We were inspired to see waves everywhere, and we were given an almost poetic vision of a dynamic universe.  It is a book of old-fashioned charm and wit, provocatively organized and illustrated, and marvellously deft with its presentation of hard modern science.  In short, it is a delightful winner.”

The six books shortlisted were:

Alex’s Adventures in Numberland by Alex Bellos (Bloomsbury)
Through the Language Glass: How Words Colour Your World by Guy Deutscher (William Heinemann)
The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean (Doubleday)
The Wavewatcher’s Companion by Gavin Pretor-Pinney (Bloomsbury)
Massive: The Missing Particle That Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science by Ian Sample (Basic Books)
The Rough Guide to The Future by Jon Turney (Rough Guides)

The authors of each shortlisted book were awarded £1000.

Sponsorship for this year’s award was provided by global investment management company Winton Capital Management, as part of a five year sponsorship deal for the prize.

David Harding, Founder of Winton Capital Management said: “I am delighted that The Wavewatcher’s Companion is the first winner of the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books . Books that can explain the complexities and wonders  of science in a concise readable way are incredibly important and I am already looking forward to reading next year’s shortlist.”

The first chapter of each shortlisted book is available to download for free at:

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