Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Douglas Palmer – Four Way Interview

Douglas Palmer is a a science writer and lecturer on Earth Sciences for the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education. He is the author of more than 20 books, most recently Earth: in 100 groundbreaking discoveries. He is a consultant for BBC Wildlife Magazine and a regular contributor to New Scientist and Science magazines.
Why science?
Whilst the sex lives of footballers and celebs undoubtedly have a certain interest, the science of planet Earth has more variety, drama and relevance in the greater scheme of things. Whilst in a year or two the shenanigans of most of our dear little celebs will have evaporated in the ether, the science of Earth will still be impacting upon our everyday lives, whether we like it or not and whether we are aware of it or not – you have been warned.
Why this book?
Earth’s story is an ever ending one with new insights, problems and resolutions emerging every day but still very little of the science news gets through our media quagmire. This book is my latest effort to try and bring some of the science news – both good and bad to light, in what is hopefully a readable and interesting way.
What’s next?
I have just launched my website, but it just has basic stuff about my previous books. Now the work begins as I want to use it to pass on to any interested reader updates on stories I have already written about and new science stories that I find interesting.
What’s exciting you at the moment?
This week’s Nature journal has a great news story about Archaeopteryx, which is one of the most important fossil finds ever made as it provided good evidence for the evolution of birds from reptiles. Its discovery came just after the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species and provided the first convincing support for his evolutionary theory from the fossil record. Ever since Archaeopteryx has been seen as the earliest known and most basal true bird. However, a new discovery of a feathered bird-dinosaur from China and its analysis is questioning whether Archaeopteryx was really the most primitive bird. This research will generate a considerable debate and help us re-evaluate the early origin of the birds.

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