Category: Science

Choosing Space

Have you ever read a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book? One where you have to decide what your character will do in various situations, with many different possible endings to the story?

I haven’t written a book for the CYOA brand, but I DID write a book with lots of choices and endings built into it. It’s called Space Race, and it’s part of a history series called You Choose, in which readers have to guide their characters through events that really happened.

Space Race tells the stories of three characters I invented–an American engineer, an American woman pilot, and a Russian cosmonaut–at the dawn of space exploration, when two superpowers were racing to be the first in space, first in Earth orbit, and first on the Moon. Each of these characters dreams of exploring the new frontier of outer space, and each faces challenges and life-changing decisions.

The events of Space Race really happened. Only my characters are fictional. It was a blast to research the early years of space exploration and find ways to place my invented characters inside that thrilling world–and also to make the giant diagram I needed to keep the many decisions and endings sorted out! If you read Space Race, let me know what you think.

My book is out of date. Yay!

Back in 2003 I wrote this book about Pluto as part of a series about the planets. In the last chapter I wrote that the a planned Pluto mission had been cancelled, but “space scientists and supporters of exploration in the outer Solar System” intended to keep trying.

Today, as I look at the amazing photos of Pluto and its moons coming to us from the New Horizons spacecraft after a voyage of more than nine years,Pluto I am beyond happy that they succeeded so beautifully. Bravo, New Horizons and all who helped!

New Project: A Jared Diamond Book

I’m happy to announce that I’ve been chosen to turn bestselling writer Jared Diamond’s The Third Chimpanzee into a book for young people.

Diamond is the author of Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997), a book that explores the relationships among geography, biology, and history, and also of Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005), a book about why some societies are successful and long-lasting while others fall apart and disappear. The book I’m adapting for young readers, The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, explores the many things that make humans unique–as well as their connections to the rest of the animal world. It’s a  subject that I think kids will find fascinating.

I’ve just gotten started on the writing, and already I’m enjoying it tremendously. I look forward to the time when the book will be finished and ready for readers.

Revealed: Animal Behavior Revealed Book Covers!

I love the covers for my latest series of nonfiction books for kids: Animal Behavior Revealed.

These four books were both fascinating and tons of fun to write. I hope readers will share both the fascination and the fun. It’s amazing how much scientists are learning every day about how and why animals do the things they do.

Animal Behavior Revealed is due to be published in Fall 2012. Look for it online, in bookstores, and at your school or public library.

 

Good Science, Bad Science

How do we know whether an idea, belief, or statement is scientific? In Good Science, Bad Science, a series I’m writing now, I explore the basics of the scientific method–a powerful tool for exploring and understanding the world, from atoms to galaxies.

The history of science is one of new ideas constantly replacing old ones, as investigators learn ever more about the workings of the world around them. People used to believe that Earth was the center of the universe, with the Sun and all the stars revolving around it. Now we know that Earth is just one of many planets and asteroids that revolve around the Sun, and that the Sun is just one of trillions upon trillions of stars. A key part of good science is being flexible. A scientific thinker is able to change his or her ideas when new evidence comes along.

The four books of Good Science, Bad Science will examine:

*  old ideas about the shape of the earth, and how science changed them

*  Earth’s place in the universe, and how scientists discovered it

*  the relationship between the mysteries of alchemy and modern chemistry, and

*  the differences between astrology and astronomy.

The series is still in the early stages. Writing the books is a fascinating  journey. I can’t wait to see the finished product.

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