Special thanks to Simon Singh for answering 4 questions about his recently featured book – Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe
I am an author, journalist and TV producer, specialising in science and mathematics, the only two subjects I have the faintest clue about. My latest book is The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets. – From Simon’s Homepage
#1 – What was the impetus for Big Bang?
The Big Bang model is one of humankind’s great achievements. We are just small creatures, with small brains, stuck on a small planet, yet we know so much about the history of the universe and its evolution. However, I think most people outside of cosmology do not really know what the Big Bang model is, who came up with the idea, and why we think it is an accurate model. The point of the book is to make the public aware of the detail behind one our most magnificent discoveries.
#2 – Your book ranges over a long history of the universe. How did you choose which stories to tell and which characters to follow?
My books are not definitive or scholarly, but instead I will tend to focus on the bits of science that are more interesting or more colourful or more easily explained. On the other hand, I think I cover most of the major episodes of the development of the Big Bang model. From a structural point of view, I wanted to emphasise the see-saw nature of the debate. So we start without a Big Bang, then maybe a Big Bang, then not a Big Bang, then really maybe a Big Bang, then probably not a Big Bang, then probably a Big Bang and now certainly a Big Bang. I make it a bit more dramatic and interesting than that (I hope), but that is structure, and it reflects the notion of a so-called paradigm shift and indicates how science often moves forward.
#3 – Released over 10 years ago. What has the response to the book been?
Big Bang has not had the same attention as, say, FERMAT’S LAST THEOREM or THE CODE BOOK, and that is probably because people are more interested in current cosmological speculations, rather than looking back at the history of the subject. But I remain very proud of the book. I think the explanations are very clear and that is very important to me. Popular science should explain the science, and not just tell exciting stories.
#4 – Are you working on any new books/projects you can tell us about?
I have recently set up a charity called GOOD THINKING (www.goodthinkingsociety.org), which promotes good science and challenges BAD SCIENCE. It is taking up more and more of my time, so I am not sure when or if I will return to writing. Our activities range from challenging homeopathy to offering prizes for science blogging.
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