All posts by Jon Crowe

Jon Crowe is a science publisher (by day) and science writer (at various other times). A biochemistry graduate (University of Warwick, 1997), he was a runner-up in the 2001 Daily Telegraph/BASF Young Science Writer Competition (back when he was still classed as being young). Jon has co-authored two editions of Chemistry for the Biosciences, which first published in 2006, and is currently embroiled in writing the third. He lives with his fiancee, Katy, and their slightly rotund cat, Basil, in Eynsham, Oxfordshire (the location of one of the two toll bridges across the River Thames). They mostly enjoy drinking tea and eating cake. You can follow him on Twitter @crowe_jon

REVIEW: Publishing and The Advancement of Science…

Publishing and The Advancement of Science/p>

Author: Michael Rodgers

Publisher: Icp

Kindle Price: £16.80

Hardback Price: £39.00

Get it here from Amazon.

Michael Rodgers was at the forefront of science publishing for almost 35 years. He has commissioned and published works for a list of authors that reads like a ‘who’s who’ of science in the 20th century. They include Jim Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA double helix, and Richard Dawkins, whose book The Selfish Gene was commissioned by Rodgers. As Richard Dawkins says of Michael in the foreword to this book, ‘His successes as a commissioning editor are probably unrivalled in the field.’

In Publishing and the Advancement of Science, Rodgers gives an insider’s view of the ever-changing world of publishing, and the twists and turns that his own career took. The journey through Michael’s career takes us from his first job as science field editor at the Oxford University Press, England, through positions at four further publishers, before returning to his original employer for the final six years of his career.

Throughout the book, you get a sense that publishing a successful book is often a case of being in the right place at the right time. For example, Rodgers recalls how he came to publish The Selfish Gene in what was essentially the result of a tip-off from one of Dawkins’ colleagues, who told Michael ‘I have no idea whether it is any good but it might be worth looking into.’ It turns out it was very good advice: the book went on to sell over one million copies and has been translated in 25 languages.

Publishing and the Advancement of Science is not a rose-tinted look at the insides of the publishing machine but shows it as an often fickle industry, with publishing houses deciding to embark on new lists, only to close them down shortly thereafter. He also describes the growing globalisation of publishing, which is seeing small publishing houses, each with their own character and flavour, being crunched into ever-larger, more characterless operations.

Michael is a fine orator – as I have had the good fortune to witness on numerous occasions – and his mastery of the spoken word translates into the narrative of this book. There are times, however, when the narrative slips towards becoming a catalogue of author names and book titles, whereupon the reader risks losing sight of where Michael is trying to take them. I also came away from the book feeling that he had hidden his light under a proverbial bushel: it would have been nice to learn more of Michael the person – how the ups and downs of publishing made him feel, and how his editorial instinct impacted the books on which he worked, and the authors with whom he met.

The Verdict
Ultimately, only a handful of people have the breadth of experience to write a book like this, and Rodgers capitalises on his unique viewpoint to deliver something very special. Publishing and the Advancement of Science is as an enjoyable and stimulating read for anyone who wants a fly-on-the-wall view of how some of the most enduring and influential science books of our time came into existence.

Rating:4/5 stars

mainImage

Article by Jon Crowe

October 27, 2015

Jon Crowe is a science publisher (by day) and science writer (at various other times). A biochemistry graduate (University of Warwick, 1997), he was a runner-up in the 2001 Daily Telegraph/BASF Young Science Writer Competition (back when he was still classed as being young). Jon has co-authored two editions of Chemistry for the Biosciences, which first published in 2006, and is currently embroiled in writing the third. He lives with his fiancee, Katy, and their slightly rotund cat, Basil, in Eynsham, Oxfordshire (the location of one of the two toll bridges across the River Thames). They mostly enjoy drinking tea and eating cake. You can follow him on Twitter @crowe_jon


Back To Top

‘Not the 12 Days of Christmas’ Day 7: Reasons not to eat Christmas decorations!

On the seventh day of Christmas my Guru gave to me… a warning about eating Christmas decorations!

Many of our homes will now have become festooned with an array of decorations. Overlooking the current trend for homes emblazoned with Santa-shaped LED displays (about which the less said the better), what is more festive than a traditional holly wreath? Continue reading

Article by Jon Crowe

December 20, 2014

Jon Crowe is a science publisher (by day) and science writer (at various other times). A biochemistry graduate (University of Warwick, 1997), he was a runner-up in the 2001 Daily Telegraph/BASF Young Science Writer Competition (back when he was still classed as being young). Jon has co-authored two editions of Chemistry for the Biosciences, which first published in 2006, and is currently embroiled in writing the third. He lives with his fiancee, Katy, and their slightly rotund cat, Basil, in Eynsham, Oxfordshire (the location of one of the two toll bridges across the River Thames). They mostly enjoy drinking tea and eating cake. You can follow him on Twitter @crowe_jon


Back To Top

‘Not the 12 Days of Christmas’ Day 1: Reasons to eat more

On the First Day of Christmas, my Guru gave to me… Reason to eat another slice of cake!

Many of us feel a pang of guilt as the festive season unfolds and our lives become a seemingly endless cycle of sleeping and eating. Satisfying though it may be to tuck into that third mince pie (oh, and the lashings of cream) shouldn’t we be worrying about the excess of calories we’re consuming? (Easy now, you don’t need to eat too much more – Ed)

Well, maybe – but not if you look at the festive period as a way of replenishing your energy supplies following their depletion in the face of Christmas shopping… Continue reading

Article by Jon Crowe

December 14, 2014

Jon Crowe is a science publisher (by day) and science writer (at various other times). A biochemistry graduate (University of Warwick, 1997), he was a runner-up in the 2001 Daily Telegraph/BASF Young Science Writer Competition (back when he was still classed as being young). Jon has co-authored two editions of Chemistry for the Biosciences, which first published in 2006, and is currently embroiled in writing the third. He lives with his fiancee, Katy, and their slightly rotund cat, Basil, in Eynsham, Oxfordshire (the location of one of the two toll bridges across the River Thames). They mostly enjoy drinking tea and eating cake. You can follow him on Twitter @crowe_jon


Back To Top

Could Science One Day Find A Way To Stop The Ageing Process?

Old ManFirst, let’s think about the question ‘Why do we age?’ In short, it’s because cells can only play an active role in our bodies for a certain length of time before they reach retirement. As more of our cells come out of active service, we physically age. And just as we use our birthdays to count down to retirement, so our cells have an internal clock that ticks down towards the end of active service. Once the counter hits zero, the cell is relieved of duty.

So how does this counter work? Each of our cells contains a set of chromosomes: packages of DNA that store all the genetic information needed to tell our bodies how to grow and operate. Every time a cell divides to replace the old ones, it must copy all of its chromosomes so that both daughter cells have their own full set. But the copying process isn’t perfect: each time a chromosome is copied, a tiny amount of DNA is lost from each end. This is how the cells keep count: the ends of each chromosome are used as a measuring stick. As the years pass, the chromosome shrinks, its ends gradually eroded until a certain critical length is reached. At this point, the chromosome becomes too short to be copied: the cell has reached the end of its useful life.

The obvious follow-up question is: is it possible to override this ageing process? Well, one option appears to be the use of stem cells. Stem cells are like new-born babies: they have yet to be adulterated by their surroundings and have the potential to follow one of many career paths – from nerve, brain or heart cell to skin cell. Stem cells are present in each one of us and play a vital role in maintaining our organs and tissues. Stem cells act as the raw material for running repairs; damaged cells are actively destroyed and replaced by the children of stem cells.

The promise held by stem cells in our quest against ageing lies in the potential of these cells to be ‘groomed’ towards a particular destiny – artificially creating replacement cells for the old ones. Once we have mastered this grooming process, perhaps we will be able to use stem cells to grow new tissues or organs on demand. Just as we might replace a worn out car tyre or pair of brake pads, the hope is that we will be able to remove worn out or damaged organs, and replace them with shiny new ones.

It’s early days, but the use of stem cells does seem to be a potential way to at least slow the ageing process, if not stop it completely.

Answered by Jon Crowe.

Image credit: Petras Gagilas on flickr


Ticking ClocksFor a run-down of some more unusual avenues in anti-ageing research, take a look at 5 Crazy Ways Science Is Trying To Make You Live Forever.

You can read more on this in an article I wrote for issue 4 of Guru.

Article by Jon Crowe

May 20, 2014

Jon Crowe is a science publisher (by day) and science writer (at various other times). A biochemistry graduate (University of Warwick, 1997), he was a runner-up in the 2001 Daily Telegraph/BASF Young Science Writer Competition (back when he was still classed as being young). Jon has co-authored two editions of Chemistry for the Biosciences, which first published in 2006, and is currently embroiled in writing the third. He lives with his fiancee, Katy, and their slightly rotund cat, Basil, in Eynsham, Oxfordshire (the location of one of the two toll bridges across the River Thames). They mostly enjoy drinking tea and eating cake. You can follow him on Twitter @crowe_jon


Back To Top