Thursday, 7 April 2011

Launch day

Regular readers can hardly have failed to notice the appearance of my new book Inflight Science, but today is the official publication date, which seemed worth marking. If you are toying with buying a copy, today would be a great day to do it!

To say I'm pleased with this book would be an understatement - sometimes everything just seems to come together right with a book, and this is a prime example. It was genuinely great fun to write, which I think is half the battle. It is so much harder to make a book interesting if you are struggling to be interested in the topic yourself.

One or two people have pointed out the irony that I hate flying, but funnily it really isn't an issue. I prefer to use other means of transport on environmental grounds, and if I have to fly, it scares me witless. But then most people either experience fear or boredom in flight - and I think that's why a book like this can be helpful, because it's a distraction and hopefully brings back some of the genuine wonder we ought to have when performing the amazing task of travelling through the air seven miles up.

If you feel the urge, you can get the standard book from (sorry, - yours isn't out until September but you can preorder), or if you are a Kindle person it's on both and

To finish off, here's a quick quote from a couple of the early reviews:
…we should be grateful for this book from Brian Clegg, an unabashed aircraft geek. Everything about aircraft seems to fascinate him: how much they weigh, how their lavatories work, how they affect our bodies. His curiosity extends to airports, which he turns into pleasure palaces full of little-known facts rather than the dull shopping malls we normally take them to be. His book is structured as a representative flight, from check-in to customs, in which at every turn he micro-analyses the technical and scientific aspects of the experience. I consider myself reasonably competent on matters aeronautical, but he still managed to surprise me with something new on every page. For example, he digresses on why there will never be electric aircraft. The reason is that to carry the same amount of energy as 10kg of jet fuel, you'd need one ton of batteries…. He points out that only children tend still to be excited by aircraft. We should take their curiosity as a guide. With this book in hand, we have all we need to set off on our next flight with our eyes open to the sheer wonder of what is involved. Mail on Sunday (Alain de Botton)

Inflight Science by Brian Clegg is, essentially, an eye-spy book for adults... fitting into that publishing niche somewhere between hard science and Schott’s Miscellany that was so successfully exploited by the Cloudspotter’s Guide... The great strength of this book is its ability to pull out from the mundane experiences of modern air travel - the contrails and cumulonimbus, the security scanners and salted snacks - to explain a wider technical point... We are called - it is the Royal Society’s motto - to take no one’s world for it. In that spirit, Clegg includes several of his own experiments, so you too can perform some basic mile-high science... [some] are ingenious.  The Times (Tom Whipple)


  1. How exciting. Congrats! I'm off to buy it now. And well done on those very high falutin' reviewers :-)

  2. Thanks Sue - let me know what you think!

  3. Wendy Williams8 April 2011 at 13:20

    It sounds like this book is really taking off Brian (forgive the pun!). Well done!