Now an author

I should have done this years ago, but the main thing is it’s done. My first book is published and available in all good bookshops (and, I hope, a few dodgy ones).

The Physics Behind… (Octopus Books) is a whirlwind tour though modern life, highlighting the extraordinary science that underpins the technology we tend to take for granted. Does a microwave oven really cook from the inside out? (spoiler alert: no) What is the science behind the thrashing chords of an electric guitar? Are stealth aircraft really invisible? (only to radar, and even then not quite).

If you’ve ever wondered about any of this, or dozens of other topics from smartphones to widget spinners and the Large Hadron Collider, well, you are my target audience. If you know anybody who wonders about these things, (ahem) the book makes a great gift.

The thing was a joy to write, even if I did occasionally find myself so engrossed in the research that the keyboard-bashing took a back seat. That’s what deadlines are for.

I’ve been delighted with the reception it has had, and flattered to be invited to appear on the top US commercial radio science broadcast Science Fantastic with theoretical physicist Dr Michio Kaku. I don’t mind admitting that it was a challenge, doing an hour on the phone to New York without any preparation, but the show goes out in 100 or more US cities and so is an opportunity not to be passed up.

You can hear it or download it here (just be aware that US commercial radio has a LOT of ads). The link goes to the first hour, with my contribution, but the show runs for three hours in total (full download here).

I’m really chuffed that my friends at Laboratory News ran a competition to give away a few copies. I’ve written a monthly column for them since 2010, so this is gravy for me (sorry about the grainy image, a result of the autolink).

The Physics behind…

My North American publisher Firefly also has an online quiz with prizes of more copies. I have to wonder whether they will give the book to people who get the answers right, or to those who get most wrong (and who therefore might have more need of it).

The question on everybody’s lips now is: will there be a sequel and, if so, will it be called The Physics In Front…? Stay tuned to find out.

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