|We need to talk about Kelvin||Marcus Chown||Uses everyday observations to plunge into quantum theory, thermodynamics and cosmology. Great fun and very readable.||Shortlist|
|Why Does E=mc2||Brian Cox & Jeff Forshaw||Explanation of the derivation of the world's most famous equation, exploration of the standard model master equation and great exposition of Higgs - but too technical for the general reader.||Shortlist|
|God's Philosophers||James Hannam||Highly informative and surprisingly readable book filling in just what developments were made in the history of science during the medieval period.||Short list|
|Life Ascending||Nick Lane||Short list|
|A World without Ice||Henry Pollack||Short list|
I have to say for me there are some oddities in there. In the table above you see the ratings of the ones we've reviewed on the Popular Science website (click the titles or summaries for a detailed review) - some, yes, are great. Some, frankly, rather less so. I can't help but think this is in part because of the odd nature of the judging panel. It is 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. So, basically, a couple of academics, a couple of media types and a fiction writer. How many popular science writers? Well... none. Nothing like getting the experts in.
On the Popular Science website we also feature our 'extras' - books that were published in the right period and really should have been on the shortlist, rather than some of those weird choices. This year it looks like this:
Any road up, good luck to all those attending tomorrow. For me, the obvious choice is Marcus Chown's book - but let's face it, book prize panels specialize in not going for the obvious choice.