John Gribbin

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John R. Gribbin
Born (1946-03-19) 19 March 1946 (age 68)
Maidstone, Kent, England
Occupation Science writer and journalist
Nationality British
Alma mater Sussex University
Period Last half of the 20th century, beginning of the 21st century
Genres Science: Origins of Universe, Astronomy, Cosmology; Biography, Fiction, Non-fiction
Subjects Astronomy and astrophysics. Explaining science and its history. Climate change and global warming.
Spouse(s) Mary Gribbin

www.johngribbin.co.uk

John R. Gribbin (born 19 March 1946)[1] is a British science writer, an astrophysicist, and a visiting fellow in astronomy at the University of Sussex.[2] The topical range of his prolific writings include quantum physics, human evolution, climate change, global warming, the origins of the universe, and biographies of famous scientists. He also writes science fiction.

Biography[edit]

John Gribbin graduated with his bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Sussex in 1966. Gribbin then earned his master of science (MSc) degree in astronomy in 1967, also from the Univ. of Sussex, and he earned his PhD in astrophysics from the University of Cambridge (1971).[3][4]

In 1968, Gribbin worked as one of Fred Hoyle's research students at the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy, and wrote a number of stories for New Scientist about the Institute's research and what were eventually discovered to be pulsars.[5]

In 1974, Gribbin, along with Stephen Plagemann, published a book titled The Jupiter Effect that predicted that the alignment of the planets in a quadrant on one side of the Sun on 10 March 1982 would cause gravitational effects that would trigger earthquakes in the San Andreas fault, possibly wiping out Los Angeles and its suburbs.[6] Gribbin distanced himself from The Jupiter Effect in the 17 July 1980, issue of New Scientist magazine, stating that he had been "too clever by half".[7]

In February 1982, he and Plagemann published The Jupiter Effect Reconsidered, claiming that the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption proved their theory true despite a lack of planetary alignment. In 1999, Gribbin repudiated it, saying "I don't like it, and I'm sorry I ever had anything to do with it."[citation needed]

In 1984, Gribbin published In Search of Schrödinger's Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality, the book that he is best known for, which continues to sell well 28 years after publication.[8] It has been described as among the best of the first wave of physics popularisations preceding Stephen Hawking's multi-million-selling A Brief History of Time.[9] Gribbin's book has been cited as an example of how to revive an interest in the study of mathematics.[10]

In 2006, Gribbin took part in a BBC radio 4 broadcast as an "expert witness". Presenter Matthew Parris discussed with Professor Kathy Sykes and Gribbin whether Einstein "really was a 'crazy genius'".[11]

At the 2009 World Conference of Science Journalists, the Association of British Science Writers presented Gribbin with their Lifetime Achievement award.[12]

Reviews of Gribbin's writings[edit]

The conservative political magazine The Spectator described Gribbin as "one of the finest and most prolific writers of popular science around" in a review of Science: A History, which it praises as "the product of immense learning, and a lifetime spent working out how to write in a vivacious way about science and scientists", but criticises the book for failing to give adequate representation to famous women scientists.[9]

Henry Gee, a senior editor at Nature, described Gribbins as "one of the best science writers around".

A review of The Universe: A Biography in the journal Physics World praised his skill in explaining difficult ideas.[13]

A Wall Street Journal review of Flower Hunters (co-authored with Mary Gribbin) described the writing as "pedestrian", with plenty of domestic detail but a failure to convey a larger cultural context. It stated that the book's chapter-length biographical sketches are too often superficial, and criticised the book for glaring omissions of prominent plant collectors.[14]

In a review of The Reason Why, the Times Higher Education states that Gribbin writes on speculative matters and presents some of his theories without supporting evidence, but noted his comprehensive research and lyrical writing.[15]

A review of his biography of Stephen Hawking in the Los Angeles Times expressed concern that Gribbin and White's work had not been edited for American readers and that some readers may be put off as a result, and stated that some of the authors' information regarding an American educational institution was "simply wrong".[16]

Works[edit]

Science[edit]

Children's books on science[edit]

  • (2003) Big Numbers: A Mind Expanding Trip to Infinity and Back (coauthor Mary Gribbin), Wizard Books (children's imprint of Icon Books) 2005 edition ISBN 1-84046-661-8
  • (2003) How far is up? : Measuring the Size of the Universe (coauthor Mary Gribbin), Icon Books 2005 edition ISBN 1-84046-439-9
  • (2008) Time Travel for Beginners (coauthor Mary Gribbin), Hodder Children's ISBN 978-0-340-95702-8
  • (2000) Eyewitness: Time & Space, DK Children ISBN 0-7894-5578-1

Predictions[edit]

The Sun[edit]

Quantum physics[edit]

Evolution and human genetics[edit]

Climate change and other world concerns[edit]

Astronomy and description of the Universe[edit]

Origins of the Universe[edit]

Novels[edit]

Biographies[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Dr John Gribbin's Biography". Debrett's People of Today. Retrieved 4 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "A change in the weather by Gary Turbak" The Rotarian magazine, Aug 1980, p.17
  3. ^ Profile of John Gribbin at David Higham
  4. ^ Profile of John Gribbin at a Popular Science site (not related to the magazine)
  5. ^ Mitton, Simon (2011). Fred Hoyle: A life in science. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 268. ISBN 978-0-521-18947-7. 
  6. ^ Kruszelnicki, Karl S.. "Planetary Alignment – Part 2". Dr Karl. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 9 May 2008. 
  7. ^ Gedney, Larry (8 February 1982). "The Jupiter Effect: Article #526". Alaska Science Forum. University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute. Retrieved 9 May 2008. 
  8. ^ Kurutz, Steven (3 December 2009). "How to Boost Book Sales? For "Get a Grip on Physics," Tiger Woods' Crash Helped". The Wall Street Journal Speakeasy Blog (New York, NY: Dow Jones & Company, Inc.). Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Macfarlane, Robert (28 September 2002). "Quod erat demonstrandum: Science: a history, 1543–2001, by John Gribbin". Spectator Book Club, book reviews. The Spectator. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  10. ^ Kenyon, Georgina (25 August 2002). "Firing interest in maths lessons". BBC News World Edition, UK: Education. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  11. ^ Parris, Matthew (26 December 2006). "Albert Einstein". Great Lives. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 26 December 2011.  In the BBC radio 4 broadcast, Parris refers to Gribbin as their "expert witness". This is not to downplay the impressive credentials mentioned for Kathy Sykes.
  12. ^ http://www.absw.org.uk/absw-awards/previous-winners.html
  13. ^ Rowan-Robinson, Michael (June 2007). "Life, the universe and everything". Physics World (Institute of Physics Publishing): 46–47. Retrieved 23 December 2011. 
  14. ^ Garmey, Jane (10 May 2008). "The Age of Botanical Exploration: Flower Hunters by Mary and John Gribbin". Books, Wall Street Journal, page W8. Retrieved 29 December 2011. 
  15. ^ Dartnell, Lewis; Darracott-Cankovic, Chloe (12 May 2011). "The Reason Why: The miracle of life on earth". The Times Higher Education. TSL Education Ltd. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  16. ^ Kevles, Bettyann (9 June 1992). "Book Review: Scientist's biography loses a bit in 'translation': Stephen Hawking: A life in science, by Michael White and John Gribbin, Dutton, $23; 304 pages". Los Angeles Times online collections. Los Angeles Times. 

External links[edit]