Massive makes the shortlist

This week I heard the wonderful news that Massive has been shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton science book prize 2011.

It is no exaggeration to say the announcement made my year and to see it alongside some titles that truly bowled me over is a real thrill.

The Royal Society has posted some information on the shortlist and included some thoughts from the judges on each book. Here's what they said about Massive:

“An extraordinary book that tells the real human story behind one of the biggest science adventures of our time, managing to translate the complex concepts of particle physics into a real page-turner.”

If nothing else this has given me a confidence boost and helped me take seriously my meandering plans for a second book. All I will say about the embryonic idea I have been kicking around is that I have been researching it for six months or so and have yet to fall out of love with it. And that I have decided against calling it Missive.

The other titles on the shortlist are:

Alex's adventures in numberland by Alex Bellos

Through the language glass: how words colour your world by Guy Deutscher

The disappearing spoon by Sam Keane

The wavewatchers companion by Gavin Pretor-Pinney

The rough guide to the future by Jon Turney

I know what you're thinking. Where is Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks? I have no idea. I can only imagine that it wasn't entered.

The Royal Society kindly included some bookies' odds and have Massive down at 5-1, which in a six title shortlist brings to mind a memorable quote from Dumb and Dumber: "So you're saying there's a chance...Yeah!"

At New Scientist, where I began my life as a reporter, they have written up the shortlist with some thoughts from their own reviews of the books above, including Massive. I am ashamed to say it made me grin to see that Massive wins on size if nothing else.

My agent wrote a little ditty on the shortlist too and used a horrific pun in the headline. You can tell he used to work at Nature.

I wish all of the shortlisted authors the best of luck and hope to meet some of them in London later in November when the winner is announced.

But back to what I should call my next book. There's another Ian Sample in the world who is, or was, an American footballer and wrote a book called Once a Warrior. I bought it secondhand off Amazon for fun. It made me wonder if I should write a self-help title for the anxious called "Once a worrier".





Congrats on this book – it was a great read.  The sequel will be needed and interesting.  I hope it is in the works or planned.

How this ends at Fermi, CERN, and whether the initial theory was close or way off, or if it is a composite boson/mechanism will be noteworthy.  The issue around Noble Prizes and credit will also exist until all six theorists are passed.



UK edition               US edition
Jan 2013               Jan 2013


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