Skip to main content

Jules Howard - Four Way Interview

Jules Howard is a zoologist, writer, blogger and broadcaster. He writes on a host of topics relating to zoology and wildlife conservation, writing regularly for BBC Wildlife Magazine and the Guardian, and on radio and TV including BBC Breakfast, Sunday Brunch and BBC 5 Live. Jules also runs a social enterprise that has brought 100,000 young people closer to the natural world. His second book, Death on Earth followed the successful Sex on Earth (Bloomsbury, 2014).

Why Science? 

What better way is there to solve nature's mysteries? For me personally, I'm particularly drawn to science because I really like pressing, however slightly, on the boundary between what is unknown and known. It's a real privilege to ask questions that no one in the universe, maybe, has ever before questioned. It's a greater privilege still to try and answer them. Having fun along the way (which I try to do) is an additional bonus.

Why this book? 

What can I say? I like challenging taboos. And, when it comes to death, it's about time someone did! All life on Earth today owes death. Without death, evolution and natural selection stalls. Without death, Earth's nutrients and ecosystems would falter and fade. Without death... could we even be human? It's time for a celebration of death. This is it. This is a true story of a zoologist who studied death and improved his life unimaginably in the process.

What's next?

My first book was about sex. My second book covers death. Next, I'll be shining light onto the fortunes of our own ape lineage. Was it inevitable that our ancestors would move from the trees and into the grasslands and become human? How lucky are we to be alive? Could we ever have been here without the death of the dinosaurs?  How much of our own history do we owe to mass extinctions? I have an interesting (and top secret!) way to un-weave the story. More soon...

What's exciting you at the moment?

I'm excited about death! Honestly, really and truly - I'm genuinely excited to be releasing a book about death! The most life-affirming thing in the world is to spend years working on a project about the science of zoological death; it puts this bit (the ALIVE bit) into perspective. It's a wonderful privilege to be alive, and concious of that fact, unlike perhaps every other animal on Earth. Enjoy your days everyone. They're numbered.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Patricia Fara - Four Way Interview

Patricia Fara lectures in the history of science at Cambridge University, where she is a Fellow of Clare College. She was the President of the British Society for the History of Science (2016-18) and her prize-winning book, Science: A Four Thousand Year History (OUP, 2009), has been translated into nine languages. An experienced public lecturer, Patricia Fara appears regularly in TV documentaries and radio programmes. She also contributes articles and reviews to many popular magazines and journals, including History Today, BBC History, New Scientist, Nature and the Times Literary SupplementHer new book is Erasmus Darwin.

Why history of science?
I read physics at university, but half-way through the course I realised that had been a big mistake. Although I relished the intellectual challenge, I was bored by the long hours spent lining up recalcitrant instruments in dusty laboratories. Why was nobody encouraging us to think about the big questions – What is gravity? Does quantum mechani…

The Idea of the Brain: Matthew Cobb *****

Matthew Cobb is one of those people that you can’t help but admire but also secretly hate just a little bit for being so awesome. He is professor for zoology at the University of Manchester with a sizable teaching load that he apparently masters with consummate skill. He’s a scientific researcher, who researches the sense of smell of fruit fly maggots; I kid you not!  He’s also an attentive and loving family father but he still finds time and energy to write brilliant history of science books, three to date. His first, The Egg and Sperm Race, describes the search for the secret of human reproduction in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and is one of my favourite history of science books, on the period. His second, Life’s Greatest Secret is a monster, both in scope and detail, description of the hunt to decipher the structure and function of DNA that along the way demolishes a whole boatload of modern history of science myths. The most recent, and the subject of this review, is

The Big Ideas in Science - Jon Evans ***

The starting point of a review like this has to be to congratulate the author on his achievement, Jon Evans, because getting all of science into one relatively short book is a massive (and thankless) task. Although inevitably the result is a fairly hectic dash through the material, with limited space for subtleness, Evans manages to make the experience readable and has a light touch that is effective without becoming too simplistic.

There is only one reason this book doesn't get four stars - it's not the quality of the writing but rather the selection of the contents. Of course, there is bound to be plenty of stuff missed out - how else could you get all of science into 269 pages? But the balance is strangely skewed. Chemistry is pretty much omitted, though aspects of chemistry occur under other headings. But for me, the real problem is that physics is really under-represented. It's interesting to use Jim Al-Khalili's recent excellent physics summary title The World Acc…