Storysack discount for a fortnight

16 July, 2013

Storysack have a special offer for the next fortnight centred around our children's book Little Moon. The sack also contains, a non-fiction book, parent guide, CD, fabric playmate and Moon, picture card game, and activity resource guide.





If you buy the items individually they cost:
Little Moon £7.99
What's in the Sky? £4.99
Little Moon Activity Guide £4.95
Little Moon Sack £8.39
Little Moon Playmat £18.00
Little Moon Card Game £7.19
Parent Guide £1.99

But until 31st July you can buy them all for £45 + VAT.
Simply quote 8215 when you place your order to receive the 15% discount.
Code valid only for new orders

If you are a school you can specify a September delivery date. Order here

Little Moon was born deep in space where it was cold and lonely. Join him on his amazing journey through our universe as he meets planets, black holes and stars in search of a warm, cosy place he can call home!
Storysack are proud to present in association with the European Space Agency this outstanding storysack. A must for space lovers everywhere. A wonderful introduction to the marvels of our Solar System.

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Tags: The Moon

The Universe Explained - speaker line-up

10 July, 2013

I posted on 13th June about the Manchester event at The Gorilla on Saturday 20th July, 7-10pm where I have been invited to speak.


The organisers of The Universe Explained state:
Both artists and scientists are explorers. There has never been more public interest or more scientific progress in understanding the fundamental workings of the universe but at the same time the concepts are extremely complex and occasionally bewildering to the lay person. They are also intrinsically fascinating and inspirational to artists. This is an attempt to translate the complexity and express the wonder through a variety of art forms.  This is public engagement with a difference.

The other speakers will be:
Professor John Ellis, leading theoretical physicist from the LHA in CERN
Jonathon Keats, artist and experimental philosopher (beaming in from San Francisco!)
Chella Quint, performer and comedian
Professor Maurice Riordan, poet and co-editor (with Jocelyn Bell Burnell) of Dark Matter: Poems of Space
John Robb and post-punk legends The Membranes
Suzie Shrubb, composer and pulsar enthusiast, with 16 musicians from the Edges Ensemble
Dr Radmila Topalovic from the Royal Observatory Greenwich
Michael Trainor, artist
More details here
or on Facebook

I think we are in for a thought-provoking treat!
Buy tickets from any of the following:
See Tickets
We Got Tickets

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New Scientist: Tick tick boom, the Earth spits out a moon

08 July, 2013

I have the cover story on New Scientist (Issue 2924) this week:

“Did a nuclear time bomb deep inside the young Earth tear the planet apart? The evidence could be staring down at us every night

HUMANITY has witnessed some pretty loud bangs during our short sojourn on Earth. Take Krakatoa. When the Indonesian volcano exploded in 1883, the din was audible 3000 kilometres away, and the ash thrown into the atmosphere cooled the world for decades. Then there are the explosions of our own making. The most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated, the Soviet Tsar bomb of 1961, created a 10-kilometre wide fireball in the atmosphere.

But if Wim van Westrenen, a planetary scientist at the VU University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is right, these cataclysms are nothing compared with an experience Earth went through 4.5 billion years ago. With the paint barely dry on the new planet, a giant nuclear reactor deep in its interior went super-critical. The result was an atomic bomb that dwarfs our puny efforts. Detonating with the force of 11,000 billion Tsars, the explosion was enough to rip our infant world open. ... “

You can read the full article here but a free registration is required.

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Tags: Earth The Moon

Arts and Science

01 July, 2013



Last week I enjoyed two events that brought together the arts and sciences. On Monday I spoke for the London Salon beneath awe inspiring Rubens paintings in a vast and lofty room at The Banqueting House in London's Whitehall. The other speakers and I had to pretend it was 1649 and indeed Oliver Cromwell was in attendance (courtesy of Past Pleasures Ltd). The paintings, commissioned by Charles I to deify his father James I, were explained to us by Brett Dolman from the Historic Royal Palaces; we listened to music from the era, described by cellist and historical DJ Jane Cockcroft and Oliver Cromwell told us how Charles I's stubborn nature had brought about his own execution and why we must all return to more sober and responsible ways.



Here's a podcast made during the evening




Then on Sunday I'd been invited to SundayWise at The Ivy. The other speakers included artists Peter Kennard, who took us through some of his montage work published by The Tate in @earth, Josef Valentino (#AVERAGEJOE) who related his adventure on Damien Hirst's spot challenge, and film-maker Leah Borromeo reminded us of the dreadful societal effects on the sources of some of our cheap clothing. The chairman of Sotherby's Lord Dalmeny explained why auction items reach the prices they do, and Master Distiller Nik Fordham told us all about the new self-sustaining gin distillery at Laverstoke Mill. It will soon be producing our favourite brand and the company generously provided us all with an eminently refreshing glassful, so Nikki and I were delighted. The talks were interspersed by offerings from poet Greta Bellamancia.

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Earth will be a 'pale blue dot' in portrait by Nasa's Cassini probe

19 June, 2013

I have a new story over on the Guardian's Across the Universe blog:


Nasa's Cassini spacecraft will take an image of Earth from 1.44bn kilometres away. From there, our planet will look like the expected images of alien earths around other stars

Nasa takes pictures of Earth all the time – but not like this. The Cassini spacecraft is in orbit around Saturn, and so is currently 1.44bn kilometres away. From that distance, Earth is only going to appear as a pixel or two across.
The image, which will be taken on 19 July at around 10:30pm BST, will show our whole, living breathing world of six billion inhabitants, as a single point of light.


It is expected that the Earth will look like a "pale, blue dot". This was the phrase used to describe an image of Earth taken in 1990 from even further away. The Voyager 1 spacecraft was 6bn kilometres away, roughly the distance to Pluto's orbit, when it took pictures of most of the planets in the solar system.


Because of Earth's predominant oceans, the planet appeared as a pale blue dot but was difficult to pick out on the final image.


This attempt should provide something more photogenic. The great ringed world of Saturn will be eclipsing the Sun so its rings will be visible but the great bulk of the planet itself will be in silhouette. Earth will appear to the bottom right of the ring system.

Read the whole story here.

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Moon walker Neil Armstrong celebrated in Langholm, Scotland

14 June, 2013

I have a new post on the Guardian online Across the Universe


It's been said that Neil Armstrong embodied the American dream: coming from a small Ohio town to be the first man on the Moon. As the inhabitants of Langholm, Scotland, know he came from a lot further than that


This weekend the Scottish town of Langholm, Dumfries and Galloway, holds a series of events to commemorate the life of Neil Armstrong. Why, you may wonder, is a town of just 2,500 inhabitants celebrating the life of an American astronaut? The reason is simple: the town claimed Armstrong as one of their own. And he accepted....


You can read the whole article here.

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