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I am deeply honoured to announce that The Sun Kings has won Italy’s 2009 Montselice Prize for best scientific translation.  In Italy the book is titled I re del Sole, Il racconto dell'astronomia moderna.  It was published by Giulio Einaudi editions and translated by Giorgio P. Panini.  Signor Panini received the prize today (see picture) in the castle of Monselice, Padova.  I extend my thanks to both Giulio Einaudi editions and George P. Panini for the care they have taken with the Italian edition of my book.

In other ‘Sun Kings’ news, I have recently signed contracts that will see the book translated for Greek, Brazilian and Taiwanese publishers. 

To find out more about the Italian edition, click here. To find out more about the prize ceremony, click here and scroll almost to the end for The Sun Kings.

It is with the greatest of pleasure that I can announce today that I will be appearing at the 2009 Edinburgh Literary Festival.  I took the stage for the first time at the festival last year and spoke to 350 people about bringing astronomy to life for the general public.  This year it is my pleasure to be sharing the stage with Rick Stroud (read more about him here) and talking about my latest book projects, including Galaxy from Quercus. I look forward to seeing you.  Here’s the listing from the Festival programme:

I have a new story published at ESA:

“Using new data from ESA’s XMM-Newton spaceborne observatory, astronomers have probed closer than ever to a supermassive black hole lying deep at the core of a distant active galaxy. ...”

Read the full story for free here

I have joined the twitterverse.  You can find my account here. Come and follow me. I’ll be tweeting about interesting facts and websites that I find to do with astronomy and physics.  I’ll also be tweeting updates about my own writing.

I have a new story published at ESA:

“Integral has captured one of the brightest gamma-ray bursts ever seen. A meticulous analysis of the data has allowed astronomers to investigate the initial phases of this giant stellar explosion, which led to the ejection of matter at velocities close to the speed of light. In particular, the astronomers believe that the explosion lifted a piece of the central engine’s magnetic field into space.

Read the full story for free here

I have a new article published in New Scientist this week (issue 2621).


INVISIBILITY cloaks that work at optical wavelengths are a step closer to reality thanks to a different take on the problem.
In previous attempts fiendishly small structures had to be precisely positioned in the cloaking material. However, super-thin layers of much simpler stuff should do the trick.

Invisibility cloaks burst into the public consciousness last year, when a transatlantic team unveiled both the theory and a working device. Engineering constraints only allowed them to construct a cloak that could hide a very small object at microwave wavelengths, as confirmed by a microwave detector, and they warned that to achieve the same feat at optical wavelengths would require an extremely difficult leap in miniaturisation.

Now, Yijun Feng, a physicist from Nanjing University, China, and colleagues are trying a new approach that significantly reduces the complexity of the cloaking fabric. To cloak an object from light...


The complete article is 566 words long and can be read on the web here but a subscription is required.


The original paper that triggered this story is here.



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