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NZ science book ruins Cambridge prof’s weekend

New Zealand science book ruins Cambridge professor’s weekend


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Media release for immediate use: 12 August 2008

New Zealand science book ruins Cambridge professor’s weekend

A new book that tells the stories of breakthrough discoveries by New Zealand scientists has received high praise from Professor Gerry Gilmore of Cambridge University’s Institute of Astronomy.

Gilmore, who was born and raised in Christchurch, and became the first New Zealander to receive a doctorate in astronomy, said receiving an advance copy of The Awa Book of New Zealand Science from the publisher had ruined his weekend. ‘I could not put it down this wonderful collection of writings by remarkable people, many heroes and several geniuses.’

The Awa Book of New Zealand Science is a gripping read. Consisting largely of eyewitness accounts by scientists themselves, it tells the stories of widely varying scientific discoveries, from colonial naturalists describing New Zealand’s unique birdlife, to physicists unveiling the structure of the atom and DNA, and today’s medical researchers finding new links between environment, genetics and disease.

The editor, science writer and historian Rebecca Priestley, said all pieces had been carefully chosen to be accessible to the general reader. ‘Lots of people think of science as too hard. They’ll be amazed when they read this book –lots of the pieces are as thrilling as a good detective story.’

The publisher, Awa Press, says it has been overwhelmed by the positive response. Bernard Beckett, author of best-seller Genesis and Falling for Science, calls the book ‘an eloquent collection that reminds us of the range and intensity of intellectual obsession, and the sheer hard graft of dragging us to new understandings.’ Paul Callaghan, Alan MacDiarmid professor of physical sciences at Victoria University and a well-known science commentator on Radio New Zealand, applauded it as highly readable and valuable. ‘It shows how New Zealand’s history is interwoven with both scientific achievement and insight—not only about our country’s unique environment, but about the universe of knowledge that belongs to all humanity.’


The Awa Book of New Zealand Science will be released on 1 September.

Rebecca Priestley is a leading science writer and historian. In 2006, she co-curated the National Library exhibition Butterflies, Boffins and Black Smokers: Two Centuries of Science in New Zealand. (The book adaptation of this exhibition, Atoms, Dinosaurs and DNA: 68 Great New Zealand Scientists , will be released by Random House on 1 September).


ENDS

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