Between The Sheets: What’s really going on in the world of books

 

Fans of the novelist Joanne Harris (and there are nearly 14,000 of them just on Twitter) will be pleased to know that she is working on about five things in that famous shed of hers, and has recently received a bolt of inspiration. At last week’s reception for the Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books, Harris, who was a judge, told Between the Covers that reading about 150 science books had given her “lots” of inspiration. “Non-fiction is full of great stories,” she explains. If her next novel is about the search for the Higgs boson, we’ll know why.

That’s because the prize-winner was Sean Carroll’s The Particle at The End of The Universe, described by the chair of the judges, Professor Uta Frith, as “a real rock star of a book”. There was a bit of a Brits Awards moment as Sir Paul Nurse, the Royal Society’s president, tried to build envelope-opening tension and Carroll’s book cover was prematurely flashed on screen. “It was a bit like that day at the large hadron collider,” quipped the host, Dara O Briain, “when they all knew what the announcement was but had to wait until somebody read it out.”

-----

On stage, the shortlisted authors debated the importance of humour in science communication. It came as a relief to those in the audience who had tittered when Tim Birkhead read, from his magnificent book Bird Sense, a scene in which his PhD student, Mark, discovered that the red-billed buffalo weaver appears to orgasm at the moment of sexual climax. Discovered, that is, by personally bringing a buffalo weaver to climax. Sadly, Mark was not at the event, but Professor Birkhead tells Between the Covers: “I sent him a copy of the book [and] he knows I rate him very highly as a researcher and ... an educator”, adding mysteriously: “Many of my students have done many things you might find surprising.”

-----

From his book Pieces of Light, Charles Fernyhough read a passage about false memories, and how they can be used in advertising. It explains, apparently, why research subjects said they had enjoyed some popcorn though they hadn’t eaten it. But what explains why he and O Briain were wearing identical M&S shirts?

News
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
fashion David Beckham fronts adverts for his underwear collection
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
art
News
i100Most young people can't
Extras
indybest
Sport
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
football
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home