JIC scientist on shortlist for world’s most prestigious popular science writing award

25th Sep 2013

“Cells to Civilizations” by Professor Enrico Coen, published last year, has been shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books.

The eclectic and fascinating shortlist books are vying for the world’s most prestigious award for popular science writing. The six books on the shortlist are competing for a much larger cash prize this year.

The prize money for the winner has increased from £10,000 to £25,000 while the authors of each of the shortlisted books will receive £2,500 instead of the previous £1,000 award. The shortlist, announced today (25 September 2013), is composed of:

  • Cells to Civilizations by Enrico Coen, published by Princeton University Press. The judges said: “Cells to Civilizations presents an exciting challenge to our thinking on how evolution works. It is unbelievably alive and we could feel our brains growing as we read.”
  • Bird Sense by Tim Birkhead, published by Bloomsbury. The judges said: “Bird Sense opens new worlds to the imagination through a wealth of passionately observed science. It succeeds in conveying a feeling of what it is like to be a bird.”
  • The Particle at the End of the Universe by Sean Carroll, published by OneWorld Publications. The judges said: “This book invites you to imagine the unimaginable. It tells an extraordinary tale of scientific discovery and stands out by its ability to speak to people who are not scientists.”
  • Pieces of Light by Charles Fernyhough, published by Profile Books. The judges said: “Our memories of reading this book are exceptionally good ones! It challenges much of what we think we know about memory. It’s a bit like reading a novel, personal and compulsive!”
  • The Book of Barely Imagined Beings by Caspar Henderson, published by Granta. The judges said: “Henderson taps into forgotten wonder we first felt as children discovering the creatures of our world. It borrows its format from ancient bestiaries and its title from Borges’ extraordinary tales. The book itself is a beautiful object and brings barely imagined beings to life.”
  • Ocean of Life by Callum Roberts, published by Allen Lane (Penguin Books. The judges said: “Roberts sets modern conservation in context. For instance he has taken fisheries science and channelled it into the mainstream debate. This book is thrilling: a delightful mix of anecdote, research and polemic.”

Professor Uta Frith DBE FBA FMedSci FRS, Chair of the judges, said: “What stood out for us most was the sheer originality and the ambition of the books we selected for the short list. Here are books that have not only new things to say but also novel ways to say them in. We were delighted to be able to select from a wide range of superbly written science books, authoritative, approachable, and moreover, thrilling to read.”

The winner will be announced at a public event at the Royal Society on 25th November 2013.

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