Taunton Literary Festival 2013: Q&A with best-selling science writer, Marcus Chown

BEST-SELLING science writer, Marcus Chown.

BEST-SELLING science writer, Marcus Chown.

First published in What's On
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EXPLORER Ranulph Fiennes, TV news legend Peter Snow and former Conservative Cabinet Minister Douglas Hurd star in a strong line-up of speakers in Taunton’s Literary Festival next month.

Founded by Lionel Ward, of Brendon Books in Bath Place, over 30 events will pack out 2013’s programme for book lovers.

It features talks from a smorgasbord of ‘experts in the field’, best-selling authors, self-published authors and prolific individuals with a striking tale.

Among them is the man who can explain Quantum Theory in five minutes – popular science writer Marcus Chown.

Chown has written 14 books, created an award-winning solar system app and been shortlisted for the Royal Society Book Prize.

In his new work, What A Wonderful World, he set himself a fresh challenge. Using his ability to break down hard-to-reach concepts for the man on the street, he has explained ‘Big Topics’ he has never tackled before, from black holes to evolution and the economy, and even why money is a form of time travel.

Chatting to the County Gazette on his new work, Marcus said: “This book moves away from science.

“It actually came about because my editor at Faber took me to lunch and said ‘what you do is take complicated physics and communicate it to anyone who happens to be sat next to you on the 25 bus. What about doing that for other things?’”

So Chown, who was a radio astronomer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and is cosmology correspondent for New Scientist magazine, took on the challenge and launched himself into the learning game.

“There are a lot of scientists with a deep understanding, but who can’t communicate it, so I straddle these two things.

“When I write I’m trying to understand things myself and do so in a visual way – in pictures – which makes sense to me.

“Then I try out my explanations on my wife, who’s a Macmillan nurse. If she gets it I know I’m on to something.”

The literary festival runs from Saturday, November 2, until Tuesday, November 19, and Marcus Chown will speak at The Castle Hotel, Taunton, at 6pm on November 9.

For tickets and the festival programme see www.tauntonliteraryfestival.net

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