From the furthest reaches of the universe to the microscopic world of our genes, science offers writers the kind of scope other subjects simply can’t match. Good writing about science can be moving, funny, exhilarating or poetic, but it will always be honest and rigorous about the research that underlies it.
To recognise the best of the best, UNSW Press has established an annual prize for the best short non-fiction piece on science written for a general audience. The Bragg UNSW Press Prize for Science Writing is named in honour of Australia’s first Nobel Laureates William Henry Bragg and his son William Lawrence Bragg and is supported by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.
First prize is $7000. Two runners-up will each receive a prize of $1500.
All the shortlisted entries are included in The Best Australian Science Writing 2015, NewSouth's annual collection featuring the finest Australian science writing of the year. The book will also be launched at the October 27 event.
Idan Ben-Barak Why aren’t we dead yet
Trent Dalton Beating the odds
Christine Kenneally The past may not make you feel better
James Mitchell Crow Robots on a roll
John Pickrell Messages from Mungo
Michael Slezak Aliens versus predators
Jo Chandler, 'TB and me: A medical souvenir' (The Global Mail)
Frank Bowden, 'Eleven grams of trouble' (Inside Story)
Peter Meredith, 'Weathering the storm' (Australian Geographic)
James Mitchell Crow, 'Is there room for organics?' (Cosmos)
Stephen Pincock, 'The quantum spinmeister: Professor Andrea Morello' (Cosmos)
Fred Watson, 'Here come the ubernerds: Planets, Pluto and Prague' (from Star-Craving Mad: Tales from a travelling astronomer, Allen & Unwin)
Gina Perry, 'Beyond the shock machine' (from Behind the Shock Machine: The untold story of the notorious Milgram psychology experiments, Scribe)
Chris Turney, 'Martyrs to Gondwanaland: The cost of scientific exploration' (from 1912: The year the world discovered Antarctica, Text Publishing)
Jo Chandler, 'The last laughing death' (The Global Mail)
Becky Crew, 'It's time to become gonads' (from Zombie Tits, Astronaut Fish and Other Weird Animals, NewSouth)
Elizabeth Finkel, 'Dreamtime cave' (Cosmos)
Clive Hamilton, 'Earthmasters: Playing God with the climate' (from Earthmasters: Playing God with the climate, Allen & Unwin)
Jo Chandler, 'Storm front' (from Feeling the Heat, MUP)
Ashley Hay, 'The Aussie mozzie posse' (Good Weekend)
Peter McAllister, 'The evolution of the inadequate modern male' (Australasian Science)
Wilson da Silva, 'Gateway to Heaven' (Cosmos)
Nick Miller, 'License to Heal' (Sunday Age)
Wendy Zukerman, 'The roach's secret' (New Scientist)
The Braggs won the 1915 Nobel Prize for physics for their work on the analysis of crystal structure by means of X-rays. Both scientists led enormously productive lives and left a lasting legacy. William Henry Bragg was a firm believer in making science popular among young people, and his Christmas lectures for students – a tradition he initiated – were described as models of clarity and intellectual excitement.