Higgs boson tale wins Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books

25 November 2013

Sean Carroll’s The Particle at the End of the Universe has been named as the winner of the 2013 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books at an event hosted by comedian and TV presenter Dara O Briain.

The Particle at the End of the Universe

The prize, which has been more than doubled to £25,000 in 2013, is the world’s leading award for popular science books.  The Particle at the End of the Universe, published by OneWorld Publications, tells the story of the hunt for the elusive Higgs boson.

A delighted Sean Carroll said:  “I feel enormous gratitude towards the thousands of physicists at the Large Hadron Collider and the millions of people who express their love for science everyday!”

The £25,000 prize was awarded to theoretical physicist, TV presenter and author, Sean Carroll by Sir Paul Nurse, Nobel Prize-winning President of the Royal Society at a ceremony at the Society’s headquarters in London.  Carroll’s telling of ‘the greatest science story of our time’ came out on top against some strong competitors on the shortlist, including Callum Roberts’ Ocean of Life and Caspar Henderson’s The Book of Barely Imagined Beings.

Professor Uta Frith DBE FBA FRS, Chair of the judges, said: “The decision to award Sean Carroll’s The Particle at the End of the Universe this year’s prize was unanimous! It is an exceptional example of the genre and a real rock star of a book. Though it's a topic that has been tackled many times before, Carroll writes with an energy that propels readers along and fills them with his own passion. He understands their minds and anticipates their questions. There’s no doubt that this is an important, enduring piece of literature.”

The six shortlisted books were:

Bird Sense by Tim Birkhead, published by Bloomsbury
The Particle at the End of the Universe by Sean Carroll, published by OneWorld Publications
Cells to Civilizations by Enrico Coen, published by Princeton University Press
Pieces of Light by Charles Fernyhough, published by Profile Books
The Book of Barely Imagined Beings by Caspar Henderson, published by Granta
Ocean of Life by Callum Roberts, published by Allen Lane (Penguin Books)

The shortlisted authors were each awarded increased prizes of £2,500; more than double the £1,000 of previous years.  The first chapter of each book is available to download for free.

The judges on this year’s judging panel are Jon Culshaw, impressionist and comedian; Dr Emily Flashman, Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow at University of Oxford; Professor Uta Frith DBE FBA FRS (Chair), Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Development at University College London; Joanne Harris, novelist and author of Chocolat; and Lucy Siegle, journalist and writer on environmental issues.

Commencing in 2011, the global investment management company Winton Capital Management agreed a five year sponsorship deal of the prize.

David Harding, Founder and Chairman of Winton Capital Management said:  “Sean Carroll’s book is a fascinating account of an inspiring scientific experiment that has brought thousands of people from different countries together to pursue knowledge in a collective way. Entirely coincidentally it has a great deal in common with what we do at Winton. Sifting through large volumes of data looking for signals in the noise may be like looking for a needle in haystack to us but what they have done at CERN searching for the Higgs boson makes that look easy.”

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