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Brian Clegg - Four Way Interview

Brian Clegg is a science writer with over 30 books published on topics ranging from infinity and the big bang to relativity and quantum physics. His A Brief History of Infinity and Dice World were longlisted for the Royal Society Book Prize. Brian has spoken at the Royal Institution, British Library and Science Museum in London, and regularly appears at book and science festivals. His work has appeared in publications from Nature and Physics World to the Observer, the Wall Street Journal and Playboy. The editor of popularscience.co.uk, Brian's most recent titles are The Reality Frame and Big Data.

Why science?

The way the world works has always fascinated me, and I grew up influenced by both science in the news - the Apollo missions, for example - and science fiction, from Star Trek to Isaac Asimov. I thought initially that chemistry would interest me most, but at university, physics took over. I realised when I nearly burned a lab down that I probably wouldn't make a working scientist, but when it finally hit home that I could combine science with my enthusiasm for writing, I never looked back.

Why this book?

The Reality Frame was partly inspired by searching through a GCSE physics curriculum and not finding the words 'quantum' or 'relativity' once. I'd recently written about the quantum world, but I felt that there really wasn't a good book exploring the importance of relativity in a wider context than just Einstein (though, of course, he comes into it) - and once I'd got into relativity I realised I also wanted to include our place in the universe... so it seemed a good idea to write the book by constructing a model universe including life and creativity. As for Big Data, I worked in operational research and IT for 17 years between leaving university and becoming a full-time writer, and it seemed important to get a good view on a topic that is so influential on our everyday lives. It was also an ideal book to be one of the launch titles for Icon Books' new Hot Science series, for which I'm acting as series editor.

What's next?

There's always something on the go - I've recently completed another book for the Hot Science series on gravitational waves, and at the moment I working on a book with Maxwell's demon at its heart (who couldn't love a science book with a demon?)... while putting together a proposal I can't talk about much, but which should involve some hard core puzzling.

What's exciting you at the moment?

What I love about my job is the variety of what I get to do. Last week I was on the radio, talking about Joseph Priestley, Yesterday I wrote an article about my experience of living for a year with smart home technology and, most fun of all, I've just published my fifth murder mystery featuring a vicar called Stephen Capel - An End to Innocence was huge fun to write and I hope that my fiction books will get a wider audience.

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