2022 Royal Society Science Book Prize

A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Chapters by Nature editor and writer Henry Gee is the 35th winner of the annual Royal Society Science Book Prize, sponsored by Insight Investment.

The 2022 winner was announced in an online event on November 29.

Chaired by neuroscientist, Professor Maria Fitzgerald FRS, the judging panel for this year’s prize was comprised of television presenter and author Kate Humble; novelist Mike Gayle; writer, broadcaster and technology consultant Rory Cellan-Jones; and experimental physicist and Royal Society University Research Fellow, Josh McFayden. 

In A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth, published by Pan Macmillan, Gee zips through the last 4.6 billion years with infectious enthusiasm and intellectual rigour. Drawing on the very latest scientific understanding and writing in a clear, accessible style, he tells an enlightening tale of survival and persistence that illuminates the delicate balance within which life has always existed.

The author was born in the UK in 1962 and for more than three decades he has been a writer and editor at the international science journal Nature as well as a palaeontologist and evolutionary biologist. Gee’s previous books include The Accidental Species: Misunderstandings of Human Evolution and Across the Bridge: Understanding the Origin of the Vertebrates. In a recent interview with BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science, he said “the history of life on earth is a rattling good story if one cuts out a lot of the digressions and just keeps focus on the narrative of the earth; of life just trying to hang on no matter what the earth is doing to it”.

Gee received a check for £25,000, with £2,500 awarded to each of the shortlistees.

[Based on a press release.]

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