The New Optimists Recommend Science Books: Graham Medley on Ian McEwan and Richard Green suggests David MacKay
In the second part of our guide to great gift ideas this Christmas, two more New Optimists recommend the books which they think should be on your shelves. First up, Graham Medley from the University of Warwick suggests some science fiction.
Ian McEwan – Solar: The main character, Michael Beard, is a physicist working on renewable energy sources. The science doesn’t really figure in the book – but scientists (and their egos) do. The moral of the story is that science is a human activity, done by humans, with all that that implies. Science is not an emotionless, robotic activity done by people who have had their psyche surgically removed. Nor is it done by super-heroes with an extra special ability to separate themselves from the world and society. One of the immediate consequences is that the science that gets done is determined by flawed individuals, so it is often done for the wrong reason. I would hate the reader to think that all scientists are like Professor Beard. But equally it is wrong to think that science isn’t a normal activity.
Elsewhere, Richard Green – Professor at the University of Birmingham – also recommends a book which focuses on energy sources.
David MacKay – Sustainable Energy – Without The Hot Air: Professor MacKay is not pro- or anti- any particular energy source, but he is pro-arithmetic, and uses (slightly approximate) calculations to show how much of the UK’s energy needs could be met from renewable (or other) sources of energy, in an entertaining and memorable way. He has since become the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
To read more from Graham, Richard and the other New Optimists, click here to buy the book.