Alex Bellos on The Royal Society Winton Prize Shortlist

5th August 2015

Judge Sarah Waters: “The best science writers can move and thrill us just as much as Austen or Dickens”

The Royal Society has announced the shortlist for The Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books 2015, the only major international prize that celebrates science writing for a non-specialist audience.

The shortlist in full (in alphabetical order by author surname):

THE MAN WHO COULDN’T STOP by David Adam (Picador)

ALEX THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS: HOW LIFE REFLECTS NUMBERS AND NUMBERS REFLECT LIFE by Alex Bellos (Bloomsbury)

SMASHING PHYSICS: INSIDE THE WORLD’S BIGGEST EXPERIMENT by Jon Butterworth (Headline)

LIFE’S GREATEST SECRET: THE STORY OF THE RACE TO CRACK THE GENETIC CODE by Matthew Cobb (Profile)

LIFE ON THE EDGE: THE COMING OF AGE OF QUANTUM BIOLOGY by Johnjoe Mcfadden and Professor Jim Al-Khalili (Bantam Press)

ADVENTURE IN THE ANTHROPOCENE: A JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF THE PLANET WE MADE by Gaia Vince (Chatto & Windus)

Chair of judges Ian Stewart said: “While these books vary widely in their subject matter, they all excel at telling the human story, making science accessible and real without dumbing it down. Whether it’s through Gaia Vince’s reports of her ecological Adventures in the Anthropocene, finding out what it’s like to work at the Large Hadron Collider in Smashing Physics, or Bellos’s infectious enthusiasm in Alex Through the Looking-Glass, these books provide wonderfully engaging entry routes into complex topics.”

Founded in 1988, (and previously known under different banners including the Aventis Prize and Rhône-Poulenc Prize), the Prize celebrates outstanding popular science books from around the world and is open to authors of science books written for a non-specialist audience. Over the decades it has championed writers such as Stephen Hawking, Jared Diamond, Stephen Jay Gould and Bill Bryson.

Chair of judges Professor Ian Stewart is a mathematician and Royal Society Fellow, also known for his Science of Discworld series which he co-wrote with Terry Pratchett and Jack Cohen. He is joined on the judging panel by Guardian Books Editor Claire Armitstead, Channel 4 lead anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Electronic Engineer and recipient of a Royal Society University Research Fellowship Dr Jo Shien Ng, science broadcaster and author Dr Adam Rutherford, and award-winning novelist Sarah Waters.

The winner will be crowned at an evening ceremony on 24th September and will receive a cheque for £25,000, with £2,500 awarded to each of the five shortlisted authors. Professor Brian Cox OBE, currently The Royal Society’s Professor of Public Engagement in Science, will be hosting the awards ceremony.