Skip to main content

Waterstones, Science Museum – Brian Clegg

Our editor gives a portrait of an unusual book store.

Most of the time when you go into a book shop, the popular science section is a disappointment. Our local branch of the stationers W. H. Smiths (admittedly not known as a great bookshop) has a whole bookcase dedicated to misery fiction, and only a handful of popular science books. Others are restricted to a single shelf.
Although the Popular Science site is a great source of information, we can’t review every book, nor can we give the experience of browsing through the real things. Sometimes you just want to get your hands on some books – there’s nothing like it.
I’m pleased to say that Londoners have an alternative to science bookshop misery. Just nip along to South Kensington and slip into the Science Museum – there you will find a Waterstones that (apart from a couple of bookcases of generic children’s books) is dedicated to science and popular science. It’s your actual popular science Alladin’s cave.Manager Kirstin and her staff can help with ordering in anything that’s not on the shelves – or just general helpful enquiries. They have regular signings by popular science authors (look out for Signed Copy stickers on stock), and the museum is free to get in, so they’re easy to access.
The shop is open from 10am to 6pm every day of the year except 24th, 25th and 27th December (I’m not sure why, but if you have a desperate need for a science book on Boxing Day, you can get one. A chance to use those book tokens that Santa left.)
You can contact them on 020 7942 4481 or enquiries@sciencemuseum.waterstones.com, or just pop along to Exhibition Road (they’re down the end of the long underground passageway from South Kensington tube). Inside the museum, follow round to the right and they’re tucked away against the left wall, just before the space section.
Oh, and there’s a pretty good museum to look at, thrown in at no extra charge.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Lost in Math - Sabine Hossenfelder *****

One of my favourite illustrations from a science title was in Fred Hoyle's book on his quasi-steady state theory. It shows a large flock of geese all following each other, which he likened to the state of theoretical physics. In the very readable Lost in Math, physicist Sabine Hossenfelder exposes the way that in certain areas of physics, this is all too realistic a picture. (Hossenfelder gives Hoyle's cosmological theory short shrift, incidentally, though, to be fair, it wasn't given anywhere near as many opportunities to be patched up to match observations as the current version of big bang with inflation.)

Lost in Math is a very powerful analysis of what has gone wrong in the way that some aspects of physics are undertaken. Until the twentieth century, scientists made observations and experiments and theoreticians looked for theories which explained them, which could then be tested against further experiments and observations. Now, particularly in particle physics, it…

Gravity! - Pierre Binétruy ****

I had to really restrain myself from adopting the approach taken by The Register in referring to Yahoo! by putting an exclamation mark after every word in the text when faced with reviewing Gravity! One thing to be said about the punctuation, though, is it makes it easier to search for amongst a whole lot of books on gravity and gravitational waves (the subtitle is 'the quest for gravitational waves') since their discovery in 2015.

Despite the subtitle, Pierre Binétruy gives us far more - in fact, gravitational waves don't come into it until page 160, which makes it really more of a book about gravity with a bit on gravitational waves tacked on than a true exploration of the quest. 

However, those early pages aren't wasted - Binétruy gives us plenty of detail on all kinds of background, for example plunging in to tell us about element synthesis, something you wouldn't expect in a book on gravitational waves. I also really liked a little section on experiments you can…

Brain Based Enterprises - Peter Cook ****

A quick flag on this one: it's a management/business book, and the four star rating is with that in mind. Brain Based Enterprises does contain a surprising amount of science, considering this, which is why it's here, but don't expect it to be like a four star pure science book.

This is an eclectic attack on the status quo of our ideas about business. Peter Cook suggest that much of current business simply isn't oriented to the realities of a modern, technological world, and that we need to handle things very differently in a knowledge-based economy.

The book is divided into three sections. For me, the most interesting was the first 'brainy people' part, as my own business doesn't have teams and such - but for those who do there are also 'brainy teams' and 'brainy enterprises' sections. Cook stirs together a heady mix of science - from psychology to economics - music (a passion of his and a significant part of the way he works) and business the…