The words exciting, page-turning and inspiring don’t even begin to describe the series of children’s books by Lucy Hawking and her father Stephen.
Together they take a simple story and weave physics into it, and occasionally some rather complex physics, and some incredible writing. It was very difficult to put down any of the three books, and I found myself just pushing ahead because I wanted, wanted, to know what was going to happen next. I kept thinking to myself ‘How are they going to get out of this?!’.
We meet George in George’s Secret Key to the Universe. George is an ordinary boy, apart from the fact that he has eco-warrior parents and a pet pig called Freddy. But even that comes to an end when he meets the new next door neighbours: Eric, his daughter Annie and their mysterious supercomputer Cosmos.
Now, Cosmos is no ordinary supercomputer, he (yes ‘he’, the computer has a personality, a brilliant personality) can transport you across space to other planets and galaxies. But as always in any fantastic story, there is an evil villain who wants to steal Cosmos and use him for his own purposes, and he puts Eric in danger!!
It continues in a similar fashion with the next two books, but they get more and more exciting. In George’s Cosmic Treasure Hunt we take a trip to Florida, USA, where someone leaves clues that force George and Annie to travel around the Solar System and beyond to stop the Earth being destroyed! And in the latest instalment, George and the Big Bang, Eric’s life is again endangered and George and Annie must do everything they can to stop a dark and dangerous society hell-bent on stopping the LHC from powering up. But who can they trust…?
The books also contain pages and pages of additional facts, dotted throughout the story, which gives well explained descriptions of phenomena in physics and astronomy. And there are tons of glossy, full colour pictures to show examples of things mentioned, like images of the Moon and other galaxies. So at the same time as reading the story, you can learn about the universe. Almost osmosis like!
But not only do these books present physics in a simple format, they also explain the ethics of scientific research, and discuss the public perception of physics and the effect it has. Because George’s parents are eco-warriors, he has the gift of insight of how the application and use of physics can be beneficial to saving the Earth.
All of these sides to the books I think is what makes them so inspirational. If I wasn’t already doing my degree course, I think I would almost be convinced to switch right now!!
P.S I did find it quite funny that I read George and the Big Bang the day after the discovery of the Higgs Boson. Therefore making a vital moment of the book not possible to work anymore!! But that’s just me nitpicking.