The Royal Society Prizes for Science Books

The Royal Society celebrates the very best in popular science writing. Ever since the Prizes were originally established in 1988 they have had the same aim – to encourage the writing, publishing and reading of good and accessible popular science books. They have grown to become one of the UK\’s most prestigious non-fiction literary prizes (1) .   The initial 2009 list of the Books

 The short List  (2)

1. What the Nose Knows: The Science of Scent in Everyday Life by Avery Gilbert (Crown Publishers)
Olfaction expert Gilbert takes us on a journey through the world of aroma, describing the latest scientific discoveries and exposing popular misconceptions about smell. Apparently the human nose is almost as sensitive as the noses of many animals, including dogs; blind people do not have enhanced powers of smell; and perfumers excel at their jobs not because they have superior noses, but because they have perfected the art of thinking about scents. 

2.  Bad Science by Ben Goldacre (Harper Perennial)
Goldacre book is about the shoddy, misleading science we are bombarded with by the media and in advertising. The updated paperback edition includes a damning chapter on Matthias Rath, the vitamin-pill entrepreneur who unsuccessfully sued him for libel

3. The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes (HarperPress)
Holmes charts the rise of modern science in the late 18th century through the lives of botanist Joseph Banks, astronomer William Herschel, explorer Mungo Park and chemist Humphry Davy, and explores its influence on writers and romantic poets including Mary Shelley, Coleridge, Byron and Keats. 

4. The Drunkard\’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow (Penguin)
Mlodinow uncovers the psychological illusions that prevent us understanding stockmarkets, lotteries, road safety .and wine-tasting. According to the book jacket, he also \”reveals the truth about the success of sporting heroes and film stars, and even how to make sense of a blood test\”. Mlodinow expounded his ideas about how randomness rules our lives on the Science Weekly podcast last year.

5. Your Inner Fish: The Amazing Discovery of Our 375-million-year-old Ancestor by Neil Shubin (Penguin)
An expert in evolutionary history, Shubin \”shows that if we want to know why we hiccup, the answer is in the way fish breathe; and explains why it is that fish teeth are surprisingly similar to human breasts.\” Robin McKie reviewed Your Inner Fish for the Observer last year.

 The winner will be announced 15th Sept 2009 

The 2009 Prize Judges (3)

Five judges are tasked with selecting the longlist, shortlist and finally the winner of the 2009 Royal Society Prize for Science Books. The judges are:

  1. Sir Tim Hunt FRS, Cancer Research UK and Nobel laureate (Chair)
  2. Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, space scientist at Astrium Ltd, STFC Fellow of University College London and Founder and MD of Science Innovation Ltd
  3. Dr  Phillip Ball  author
  4. Deborah Cohen, Editor, BBC Radio Science Unit
  5. Danny Wallace, author, comedian and presenter

Suggestion to Young Scientists, can somebody write a book review for each book for publication in The Young Scientists Journal.



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