reading room3 shrunk

Nigel Hay

Wonderment: A love affair with adventure, travel, writing, philosophy, and family life

Nigel Hey’s sixth book, Wonderment: A Love Affair with Adventure, Writing, Travel, Philosophy, and Family Life, has emerged from the book binders and is now available from bookshops and e-publishers. Nigel likes to call it the autobiography of a science writer.

Nigel’s life story recounts how an asthmatic Lancashire lad, his brain addled by the frisson of receiving his first writing cheque from the BBC at the age of 11, ends up as a world traveller with six nonfiction books under his belt, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and residences on both sides of the Atlantic.

Nigel was working as an old-fashioned printer’s devil at 14. He started regular journalistic career doing wire service work, then earned a degree and went to the Kentish Express, freelancing for the Sunday Times, New Scientist, and Central Office of Information, serving as sports editor and then editor of the weekly supplement for the Bermuda Mid-Ocean News, serving as a correspondent for Thomson Newspapers (remember them?), then editing the Albuquerque (New Mexico) News. Then he answered the lure of becoming a full-time internal science reporter for Sandia, one of America’s largest government laboratories. At present he runs his own business as a writer and media consultant while writing books in his spare time.

Nigel’s double life in England and America gradually becomes an important part of his story. Otherwise it is a collection of varied, thoughtful, and sometimes hilarious memoirs about world travel, journalism and science writing, printing, publishing, media, American Indians, the American mountain states, and amateur theatre. These are linked with the author’s philosophical thoughts and with observations on the trials and triumphs of a family life shared between England and New Mexico.

“England is where I’m from, though I’m a resident of the States”, he says. “Culturally speaking, I feel more comfortable in England; physically, I resent being caught in a rainstorm when the wind is driving at you horizontally on a cold day.

“A more important way of thinking of it is that I have a tiny family, and most of it – my daughter, son-in-law, and two children, live in Hackney, and my elder son lives in Folkestone. Sometimes it seems my wife and I and my younger son are marooned on a desert archipelago”.

Finally Nigel eased the problem by buying a small flat in London. He spends three months of the year based in his flat on the edge of Victoria Park, Hackney.

Wonderment: A Love Affair with Adventure, Writing, Travel, Philosophy, and Family Life.
Matador, imprint of Troubador Publishing Price: £14.99 

Author’s contact numbers: USA 001 505 898-6679; UK: 07943 549 302 (17 Nov–12 Jan)
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Yusra Siddiqui 

Mapping genes involved in human hereditary skin disorders - Published by VDM Verlag Dr. Muller, 2010

Hair loss (alopecia) affects men and women of all ages and often significantly affects social and psychologic well-being. Congenital alopecia may occur either alone or in association with ectodermal and other abnormalities. Present study involves genetic mapping in three consanguineous Pakistani families with autosomal recessive alopecia.To establish linkage of these five families to known alopecia loci, microsatellite markers were selected from the candidate regions of each of the five known loci and used to genotype the families.

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Jon Evans

Understand Science - Published by Hodder Education, 2011

Science is a vast subject and our understanding of the way the world works is growing all the time. No book could hope to include everything that science has discovered, but this book includes all of the essential facts about all the really key areas.

Broken down into short, easy-to-digest sections it covers everything from evolution and cell biology to star formation and plate tectonics. Including sections on what technology may allow us to do in the future, and even looking at when science has gone bad, Understand Science will change the way you see the world around you.

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Christian Jarrett 

The Rough Guide to Psychology - Published by Rough Guides/Penguin, 2011

The Rough Guide to Psychology starts with you, your mind and your brain and broadens out to look at your friends and other relationships. Divided into seven sections and covering all subjects from personal relationships, your decisions and emotions, romantic interest, gender differences, psychology at work, shopping, sport psychology and criminal psychology. Finishing up with the difficult and controversial moments when the mind goes wrong; focusing on depression, anxiety, schizophrenia as well as more unusual conditions.

Extracts from forthcoming review by Uta Frith in The Psychologist: “...this book is disarmingly appealing to the deep desire to know ourselves ... [It] presents psychology today ‘in a nutshell’, and it is almost frighteningly up-to-date ... It invites travellers to consider these discoveries not only with due wonder but also healthy scepticism. ... If I had to help a young person choose the subject they should study I would not make any direct suggestions, but if I was convinced they should take up psychology, I would simply recommend this book. The rest would follow.”

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Ted Nield

Incoming, or why we should stop worrying and learn to love the meteorite - Published by Granta Books.

Astonishing new research suggests that 470 million years ago, a stupendous collision in the Asteroid Belt (whose debris is still falling today) bombarded the Earth with meteorites of all sizes. A revolutionary idea is emerging that the resulting ecological disturbance may have been responsible for the single greatest increase in biological diversity since the origin of complex life - the hitherto unexplained Great Ordovician Biodiversity Event.

Ted Nield challenges the orthodox view that meteorite strikes are always bad news for life on Earth. He argues that one of the most widely known scientific theories - that dinosaurs were wiped out by a strike 65 million years ago - isn't the whole picture, and that the causes of the end-Cretaceous mass extinction (of which dinosaurs' demise was a part) were much more complex.

Meteorites have been the stuff of legend throughout human history, interpreted as omens of doom or objects of power. But only in the eighteenth century, when the study of falling space debris became a science, were meteorites used to unlock the mysteries of our universe. Incoming! traces the history of meteorites from the first recorded strike to the video recordings made routinely today, showing how our interpretations have varied according to the age in which they fell, and how meteorite impacts were given fresh urgency with the advent of the atom bomb. Introducing a wealth of fascinating characters alongside extraordinary new research, Ted Nield has written the perfect introduction to the science and history of 'the falling sky'.

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Philip Ball

The Music Instinct  - Published by Bodley Head, 2010

The Music Instinct is a survey of what we know (and an intimation of what we still do not know) about how our brains process music: how we turn raw, complex acoustic signals into a succession of sounds that move and excite us, and which seems almost to be a quasi-language. It covers musical styles ranging from rock and pop to Gregorian chant, gamelan and Indian ragas.

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PR contacts for this book For publicity, contact: Hannah Ross, Bodley Head, Random House, London.

Richard Elwes

Mathematics 1001 - Published by Quercus, 2010

This unique reference book comprises 1001 mini-essays, arranged thematically into chapters including Numbers, Geometry, and Mathematical physics. These tell the many stories of maths, from the nitty-gritty details of long division and methods for solving quadratic equations, right up to the Poincaré conjecture, the mysteries of the prime numbers, and the latest developments in quantum field theory.

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John Emsley

A Healthy, Wealthy, Sustainable World  - published by RSC Publishing, 2010

The world stands at a crossroads. What route to the future should we take? The road to a sustainable future beckons, but what effect will this have on chemistry, which appears so dependent on fossil resources? Its products are part of everyday living, and without them we could regress to the world of earlier generations when lives were blighted by disease, famines, dirt, and pain. In fact the industries based on chemistry – the chemical, agrochemical, and pharmaceutical industries – could be sustainable and not only benefit those in the developed world but could be shared by everyone on this planet and for generations to come. This book shows how it might be achieved.

John Emsley is a popular science writer whose first book, The Consumer's Good Chemical Guide, won the 1995 Science Book Prize and has been translated into 12 other languages. Then came Molecules at an Exhibition, Vanity, Vitality & Virility, and Better Looking, Better Living, Better Loving, all devoted to the benefits of chemistry.

A Healthy, Wealthy, Sustainable World will deal with the things we regard as essential to a developed lifestyle and which depend on chemistry, namely food, water, fuel, healing drugs and plastics, as well as other areas where its role is less obvious, such as city living and sport.

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PR contacts for this book:   Rebecca Jeeves, Marketing Executive - Books Specialist, Tel +44 (0)1223 432117,

Jon Turney

The Rough Guide to the Future - Published by Rough Guides/Penguin, 2010

The past, present... and future of visions of what is to come, for humanity and the universe.

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Rebecca Mileham

Global Pollution - published by Tick Tock Books, 2010

Aimed at a young teenage school audience, this full-colour book takes high-profile news stories like Hurricane Katrina, the Bhopal leak, the ozone-layer hole and whale strandings, and uses them to introduce the science behind pollution of the air, land, water and climate. Each chapter also includes interviews with scientists working to understand and combat pollution, plus profiles of pollution-busting projects such as using llama droppings to treat contaminated water in Bolivia, or investigating whether the plastics used in trainers might be causing genetic abnormalities.

Jo Marchant

Decoding the Heavens - published by Windmill Books.

In 1900 a group of sponge divers blown off course in the Mediterranean discovered an Ancient Greek shipwreck dating from around 70 BC.

Lying unnoticed for months amongst their hard-won haul was what appeared to be a formless lump of corroded rock. It turned out to be the most stunning scientific artefact we have from antiquity. For more than a century this 'Antikythera mechanism' puzzled academics. It was ancient clockwork, unmatched in complexity for 1000 years - but who could have made it, and what was it for? Now, more than 2000 years after the device was lost at sea, scientists have pieced together its intricate workings and revealed its secrets.

In Decoding the Heavens, Jo Marchant tells the full story of the 100-year quest to understand this ancient computer. Along the way she unearths a diverse cast of remarkable characters – ranging from Archimedes to Jacques Cousteau – and explores the deep roots of modern technology not only in ancient Greece but in the Islamic world and medieval Europe too. At heart an epic adventure story, this is a book that challenges our assumptions about technology transfer over the ages while giving us fresh insights into history itself.

The book was shortlisted for the Royal Society Prize for Science Books in 2009.

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Email Jo Marchant at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or contact Amelia Harvell at Windmill Books (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 020 7840 8773).

Henry Nicholls

The Way of the Panda: The Curiouis History of China's Political Animal - published by Profile Books.

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Paul Sutherland

Where Did Pluto Go? Ivy Press/Reader's Digest 2009

Angela Saini

Geek Nation: Journey Through a Revolution. Hodder & Stoughton. 2011.

A journey through India to meet the inventors, engineers and young scientists behind this nation built not on conquest, oil or minerals, but on the scientific ingenuity of its people. Angela weaves the story of how ancient science is giving way to the new, and how the technology of the wealthy passes to the poor. Delving inside the psyche of India’s science hungry citizens, she explores the reason why the government of the most religious country on earth has put its faith in science and technology.

Through witty firsthand reportage and penetrative analysis, Geek Nation explains what this means for the rest of the world, and how a spiritual nation squares its soul with hard rationality. Full of curious, colourful characters and gripping stories, it describes India through its people – a nation of geeks.

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Contact: PR contact: Jaime Frost at Hodder (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


Caroline Richmond

Insulin Murders.  Routledge (formerly RSM Press), 2007.

Sharon Ann Holgate

Understanding Solid State Physics, CRC Press (Taylor & Francis Group), 2009.


> Author name * Caroline Richmond
> Year of publication *
> 2007
> Title of Book *
> Insulin Murders
> Publisher *
> Routledge (but formerly RSM Press)
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Georgina Ferry


Max Perutz and the Secret of Life. Pimlico. 2008. First paperback.

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