Winton Prize

Greetings from Paris, where we just arrived from London via the technological miracle of the Chunnel. I was in London in part to take place in the award ceremony for the Royal Society Winton Prize for science books. Which, to my honest surprise, I won!

winton Not to everyone’s surprise, as it turned out. As the big moment approached, with all six short-listed authors and their friends sitting nervously in the audience, President of the Royal Society Paul Nurse took the podium to announce the winner. He played up the tension quite a bit, joking that nobody in the room, not even he, knew what name was written in the sealed envelope he held in his hands. Unbeknownst to Nurse, a slight technical glitch had caused a PowerPoint slide showing The Particle at the End of the Universe to be displayed — with the word “Winner.” So actually, he was the only one in the room who didn’t know by that point.

Other than that amusing diversion, however, it was a great event overall. It’s such a pleasure to experience the strong culture of public science that is thriving in the UK, and the Royal Society deserves a lot of credit in helping to bring science writing to a wider audience.

I wouldn’t have wanted to be on the prize jury, however. All of the six shortlisted books are fascinating in their own ways, and at some point it’s comparing apples to pears. I wouldn’t have been surprised if any of the other contenders had walked away with the trophy:

But, you know, someone has to win. I’ll admit I was rooting for me. Hearing all the congratulations from Twitter/Facebook/email etc. has been extremely heart-warming. (And yes, we’re all hoping that there’s more gender/ethnic diversity on future shortlists…)

Recognizing all the while, of course, what I owe to many other people. While writing this book I was as much of a journalist/evangelist hybrid as I was a scientist, helping to spread the word of the amazing work done by thousands of experimental physicists and technicians, and I hope that the book made their contribution more widely appreciated. Most of all, I fully appreciate that I’m not even the best writer in my own house (which only has two people in it). Jennifer is going to quickly tire of hearing me say “Who’s the award-winning author around here, anyway?”

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30 Responses to Winton Prize

  1. Congratulations, Sean!!!

  2. Scott B near Berkeley says:

    Congratulations on your Winton award. Great insight and comments about winning, judging books, etc., but all to be expected from the truly-versatile Sean Carroll.

  3. Dan says:

    Congratulations! You earned it. And if you build yourself a trophy room, you never have to ask who’s the award winner again.

  4. Ramesam says:

    Congratulations, Sean!

    Hope to see many more enthralling books from you.


  5. Jens says:


    I just watched the presentations on Youtube from all the authors on the shortlist and the clips are definitely worth watching. Some of those books are going on my Christmas list and while I’d like to include yours as well, I’m afraid I bought and read that beauty a long time ago. 🙂

  6. Brian Russell says:

    Many congratulations Sean!

    I picked your book up a couple of days ago and am a little way in. Really enjoying it! Well deserved.

  7. Ian Liberman says:

    Congratulations. I have read the book once and I will read it again for a fun filled second reading . The book appeals to everyone from a novice like myself to the educated scientist. A well deserved prize.

  8. Dick Jacob says:

    Congratulations. Your book is assigned reading in my course for Barrett, the Honors College at ASU this Spring Semester. I’ve also recommended it to the adults in my Osher Lifelong Learning courses. Along with Zeilinger’s “The Dance of the Photons” and Panek’s “The 4% Universe,” it’s one of the best to come along in the past several years.

  9. emini_guy says:

    Congrats on your award. I plan to read your book during this holiday season.

  10. Well done Sean! Xmas gift ideas solved

  11. Ethan Siegel says:

    Congratulations, Sean.

    That’s great news, and well-deserved!

  12. Pingback: ‘The particle at the end of the universe’ wins Winton Prize | Open Parachute

  13. Craig McGillivary says:

    Does it bother you that none of the award winners is a women? Does Royal Society take measures to ensure that women authors are at least seriously considered for honors like these?

  14. Tracy says:

    Congratulations! Thank you so much for your writing. You deserve this recognition!

  15. Ian Liberman says:

    To reply to Craig, publishers from all over the world submit books to be chosen for the longlist and as far as the Royal Society is concerned , four out of the five judges this year were women. ” The winning book was chosen by Jon Culshaw, Dr Emily Flashman, Professor Uta Frith DBE FBA FRS, Joanne Harris and Lucy Siegle.” There is no conspiracy here against women. The only criteria here is quality and this book fills the bill.

  16. Hal Swyers says:


  17. Jim Kakalios says:

    Oh, Well Done, sir! Well deserved, indeed.

  18. Jelica says:

    congratulations, you deserve it. Trully hope many more books will follow. You are not only great scientist but also great story teller. A very rare combination.

  19. philh says:

    Congratulations Sean , it is a wonderful book.

  20. “Does Royal Society take measures to ensure that women authors are at least seriously considered for honors like these?”

    What do you think? Unless you have evidence that those macho dudes at the Royal Society don’t even consider something written by someone barefoot and pregnant, then don’t insinuate it. Seriously. Criticism yes, where applicable, but just launching an accusation with no supporting evidence whatsoever is bad. You know whom it hurts the most? People concerned with real discrimination.

  21. John Duffield says:

    Well done Sean. £25k sure is a nice Christmas present! LOL about the glitch. I hope Paul Nurse took it well.

  22. David Gibbs says:

    Congratulations Sean, thoroughly well deserved. I read your book a few months ago, and it’s pulled me in to a whole world I knew very little about before.

    Great design as well … I know that’s not meant to be so important, but it really does help!

  23. Wilhelmus de Wilde says:

    Congratulations Sean communication of knowledge (and not only the interpretations of this knowledge) is a sharing of awareness that leads to further understanding of “reality”.


  24. Jerry Lisantti says:

    Congratulations!!! I really enjoyed one of your other books, From Eternity to Here. A must read for all physics majors.