Skip to main content

David Whitehouse - Four Way Interview

Dr David Whitehouse studied astrophysics at the world-famous Jodrell Bank radio observatory. He is a former BBC Science Correspondent and BBC Science Editor. He is the author of five books including The Sun: a biography and Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and has written for many newspapers and magazines including The Times, The Guardian, Focus, New Scientist and the Economist. He regularly appears on TV and radio programmes. Asteroid 4036 Whitehouse is named after him. His latest title is Apollo 11: the inside story.

Why space?

I have been interested in astronomy since I was four years old. I recall the exact time. My mother and I were Christmas shopping in Woolworths on the Soho Road in Handsworth, Birmingham. I pointed to a very big book - an encyclopaedia  - that I wanted, but mum thought I wanted the rather thinner book on astronomy I was leaning on. Needless to say I wasn’t happy on Christmas Day, but a few days later I read it, and was hooked forever. It was the time of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. 

Why this book?
I wanted to find a new way to write a book about Apollo 11 for the 50th anniversary, to produce a narrative that was closer to the story and more intimate with the protagonists. I treated it almost like a screenplay editing what people said to produce pace and tension. I’m glad people think it’s different and like it. What more can a writer ask?

What's next?

My next book is finished but I can’t say what it is but it’s not about space. I’m working on a few more ideas at the moment. I decided that I have done my solar system books (Moon, Sun, Earth books) and I will look farther afield. Once again I am looking for a new approach. 


What is exciting you at the moment?

Bookwise I am thoroughly enjoying “The Map of Knowledge,” by Violet Moller, “The Tangled Tree,” by David Quammen, and “The Making of Poetry,” by Adam Nicholson. I read all the new science books that come out but I can’t honestly say many of them excite me.

Comments

  1. Still writing THE MOST AMAZING books, the last every bit as good as the first, if not better! David Whitehouse is like a fine wine; the older he gets, the better he becomes!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Still writing THE MOST AMAZING books, the last every bit as good as the first, if not better! David Whitehouse is like a fine wine; the older he gets, the better he becomes!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

On the Fringe - Michael Gordin *****

This little book is a pleasant surprise. That word 'little', by the way, is not intended as an insult, but a compliment. Kudos to OUP for realising that a book doesn't have to be three inches thick to be interesting. It's just 101 pages before you get to the notes - and that's plenty. The topic is fringe science or pseudoscience: it could be heavy going in a condensed form, but in fact Michael Gordin keeps the tone light and readable. In some ways, the most interesting bit is when Gordin plunges into just what pseudoscience actually is. As he points out, there are elements of subjectivity to this. For example, some would say that string theory is pseudoscience, even though many real scientists have dedicated their careers to it. Gordin also points out that, outside of denial (more on this a moment), many supporters of what most of us label pseudoscience do use the scientific method and see themselves as doing actual science. Gordin breaks pseudoscience down into a n

A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth - Henry Gee *****

In writing this book, Henry Gee had a lot to live up to. His earlier title  The Accidental Species was a superbly readable and fascinating description of the evolutionary process leading to Homo sapiens . It seemed hard to beat - but he has succeeded with what is inevitably going to be described as a tour-de-force. As is promised on the cover, we are taken through nearly 4.6 billion years of life on Earth (actually rather more, as I'll cover below). It's a mark of Gee's skill that what could have ended up feeling like an interminable list of different organisms comes across instead as something of a pager turner. This is helped by the structuring - within those promised twelve chapters everything is divided up into handy bite-sized chunks. And although there certainly are very many species mentioned as we pass through the years, rather than feeling overwhelming, Gee's friendly prose and careful timing made the approach come across as natural and organic.  There was a w

Michael D. Gordin - Four Way Interview

Michael D. Gordin is a historian of modern science and a professor at Princeton University, with particular interests in the physical sciences and in science in Russia and the Soviet Union. He is the author of six books, ranging from the periodic table to early nuclear weapons to the history of scientific languages. His most recent book is On the Fringe: Where Science Meets Pseudoscience (Oxford University Press). Why history of science? The history of science grabbed me long before I knew that there were actual historians of science out there. I entered college committed to becoming a physicist, drawn in by the deep intellectual puzzles of entropy, quantum theory, and relativity. When I started taking courses, I came to understand that what really interested me about those puzzles were not so much their solutions — still replete with paradoxes — but rather the rich debates and even the dead-ends that scientists had taken to trying to resolve them. At first, I thought this fell under