Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Glen Murphy – Four Way Interview

Glenn Murphy received his masters in science communication from London’s Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. He wrote his first book whilst managing the Explainer team at the Science Museum in London. In 2007 he moved to the United States. He now lives and works in North Carolina, with his wife Heather and an increasingly large and ill-tempered cat.
Why science?
It is without a doubt the best method we have for making useful sense of the world around us. And it delivers a sense of wonder unmatched by anything else you could ever hope to study. Once I’d figured that out as a teenager, there was no going back.
Why this book?
With the first two books, Why Is Snot Green? and How Loud Can You Burp?, I was responding to the random questions of visitors and e-mailers to the Science Museum in London. In doing so, I explored a wide range of scientific disciplines and theories, and achieved great success with the format. But I often felt that I was cutting my answers short, and wanted more freedom to explore each field in more detail, whilst keeping the same, light tone and voice.
So – after a brief digression with my third book, Stuff That Scares Your Pants Off – I returned to the whole question-and-answer book format with a whole new series of books in mind. (See Space, black holes and stuff and Evolution, nature and stuff) Each one would cover one area or field of science, fearlessly dipping into quite complex, higher-education level subjects without losing the target audience of kids and younger teenagers. My hope is that these books will give “half-interested” kids a glimpse of the excitement that could await them studying science at university level. Or at the very least, give them an appreciation for science that will hopefully stay with them as fully-educated adults. A lofty goal, perhaps. But one I’m wholly committed to as a “third-culture” science communicator and go-between.
What’s next?
I’m working on the next two books in the Science:Sorted series, focused – respectively – on human physiology and the historical evolution of technology. Expect more questions and answers, plus more fun, games, activities, and titles ending with the word “stuff”. I’m also working on a new book for under-5s with my sister, Lorna, who is a children’s illustrator based in the UK. It will be our first book together, and I’m very excited about it.
What’s exciting you at the moment?
Apart from the above? Well, I’m pretty fired up about recent developments in paleontology and evolutionary biology. We just discovered an entirely new hominid species – thousands of miles away from where anyone was looking for one, in Siberia. And not so long ago, an entirely new phylum was found living on the lips of lobsters. That we’re still making discoveries of this magnitude – in an age when we often think we’ve seen it all – makes me very excited for the future of biology, and of scientific inquiry in general.

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