Tim Radford is a freelance journalist. He worked for the Guardian for 32 years, becoming (among other things) letters editor, arts editor, literary editor and science editor. He won the Association of British Science Writers award for science writer of the year four times. He served on the UK committee for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction. He has lectured about science and the media in dozens of British and foreign cities. He has written one book, The Crisis of Life On Earth, and edited two books of science writing for the Guardian.
At the start of each school term, at the age of about 10, I did something that I suppose a million other 10-year-olds have done! The Address Book starts with some of the fundamental questions asked by everyone, in every culture since the beginning of civilisation. Who am I? Where am I? Where am I going? Tim Radford attempts to answer them by drafting in a technique he first used as a school-boy, when he wrote his address in the inside front cover of his exercise book every term, starting with the house number, the street name, the town, and proceeding upwards through levels of scale - the hemisphere, the planet, the solar system, the galaxy - until he reached the final line, the universe itself. So - this is a book written on a vertical rather than a horizontal axis. We open with Tim in the present day, in Hastings, sitting at his desk, thinking about his house, his possessions, how they have shaped him and how he has affected them, how a house becomes part of our identity and what binds us to the objects in it. The next chapter deals with Hastings itself; the town as a unit of scale, why we associate ourselves with one place rather than another. And so on, upwards through levels of magnitude. As the units of space grow larger, so Tim himself dwindles and the bigger, colder forces of astronomy and astrophysics come into play. By the time we reach the address's final line we are beginning to understand that there is no final answer to the question Where am I? - behind every answer lies a new question, receding into unthinkable distance, to the spectacle of galaxies falling away from each other into nothingness. The Address Book is fascinating, entertaining, unsettling and insatiably curious.
The Consolations of Physics is an eloquent manifesto for physics. In an age where uncertainty and division is rife, Tim Radford, science editor of the Guardian for twenty-five years, turns to the wonders of the universe for consolation. From the launch of the Voyager spacecraft and how it furthered our understanding of planets, stars and galaxies to the planet composed entirely of diamond and graphite and the sound of a blacksmith's anvil; from the hole NASA drilled in the heavens to the discovery of the Higgs Boson and the endeavours to prove the Big Bang, The Consolations of Physics will guide you from a tiny particle to the marvels of outer space.
Born out of the idea that physics can make you happy, The Solace of Quantum takes us through our grandest scientific ideas and breakthroughs in modern astronomy to reveal that physics can, however logical and complex, be oddly comforting. Take the awe in the words of astronomer Carl Sagan. He described Earth, on seeing it from space, as 'a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam . . . a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.' Compare the big bang theory with religion's divine creation story, for all its mysticism and wonder; yet the difference is: you can examine reasoning in science, and test the physics behind it at every turn. Tim Radford explores the story of the Voyager spacecraft and how it played into our understanding of planets, stars and galaxies; dark matter and dark energy (the matter we can identify and manipulate makes up only 5% of the entire substance of the universe); and, among many others, the theory that a 'virtual particle', over the course of a trillion-trillion-trillionth of a second, began our universe. This book will prove that scientific endeavours can be just as dramatic, compelling, uplifting and beautiful as anything from the great halls of literature, theatre and art - giving us sheer intellectual delight as well as a measure of consolation, or, a solace of quantum.
Over the years, millions of school children must have written out their address in the same way - their house number and street, their town, their country, their continent, planet Earth, the universe... Following this simplest of patterns, taking each line of the address as a starting point, Tim Radford explores our place in the scheme of things - why we are attached to a particular geographical place and what significance do we have when faced with the realms of astronomy and astrophysics. Fascinating, entertaining and completely original, The Address Book tackles some of the most fundamental questions facing us, and allows us see ourselves completely afresh.