19 January 2022
The first thing to say is that I've been amazed at how interested people seem to be in the book. I'd worried that the topic might be seen as a bit niche (making it a hard 'sell' for the publicity team), but so far, it seems to be going well? One of the highlights has been receiving emails from scientists and engineers working in industry - from someone who's been designing contact lenses for J&J for more than a decade, to an adhesives development engineer working at a big paint company - who found this book in a shop and thought 'oh, that looks interesting.' In addition to saying nice things about Sticky, they've gone on to tell me about their own research, taken me through their career paths, and introduced me to related topics that they thought I might be interested in (so far, they've been almost always right). It's been a joy.
I've also been doing some media stuff, including some live radio interviews - always terrifying - and lots of different podcasts. A non-exhaustive list is below:
- I chatted to one of my very favourite Irish broadcasters, Anton Savage, on his national radio. You can have a listen here
- I never thought I'd be a guest on a comedy podcast, but 2021 was full of surprises! I was on Highbrow Drivel with Anthony Jeannot
- I appeared on Jonathan McCrea's show Futureproof (from 39.25 - 55.19)
- Jo Durrant had me on as a guest on Beautiful Universe
- And my lovely friend Cara Santa Maria asked me to make a return appearance on her superb podcast, Talk Nerdy
I've given a couple of talks:
- The Royal Institution - this was a real 'pinch me' moment. I've watched the Christmas Lectures every year for as long as I can remember. To give a talk there (even a virtual one) was a dream come true. The talk was recorded, and will soon be published on their YT channel - I'll share a link as soon as I have it
- Silesian Science Festival, Katowice Poland - this was my first experience of having one of my talks live-translated. It was fun!
- Skeptics in the Pub - this talk is scheduled for 7pm (UK time) on 27th Jan
- Northern Ireland Science Festival (22 February)
- Others still to come....
I've been writing too, of course:
- Here's an excerpt from Sticky, published on the Materials Today website
- A feature on the history and science of curling, accompanied by an incredible photo essay - North & South
- Plus I'll shortly have my first ever story in BBC Wildlife magazine :)
So far, most of the reviews of Sticky have been favourable, which to be frank, is a bit surprising. No doubt that will change as more eyes get on it! Here are a couple
- Physics World (thank you Dr Jess Wade!)
- Nature (I'm still unsure as to whether this reviewer hated or enjoyed it)
- New Scientist
- Booklist - an influential outlet for librarians - said the following: What comes into your mind when you hear the word “sticky” (or, for that matter, “slippery”)? Maybe it’s obvious to you what the word means, but, as physicist Winkless explains in this rather surprisingly delightful book, “sticky” has no agreed-upon scientific definition, nor does it even have an agreed-upon everyday definition. Now, maybe you’re thinking “so what,” but if you are, you should stop. Because stickiness is actually really important. The science of stickiness, the interactions of surfaces, friction, lubrication, and related matters (it’s called surface science) could be key to understanding how the ancient Egyptians moved incredibly large and heavy objects. It explains how the gecko can climb up vertical surfaces. In fact, when you dig deep enough, stickiness explains huge chunks of the natural world and human history. Winkless, the author of Science and the City (2016), is a fine writer; she boils complex scientific ideas down to their essence and explains them in clear, simple prose. Like the best popular-science writers, she takes something that might seem dull or esoteric and makes it exciting.
So while I'm exhausted, thanks to a lot of timezone-juggling, interspersed with my 'normal' (read: paid) work, I'm happy with how it's all going. I'm looking forward to doing more in-person events, which - fingers crossed - is not too far away. On 1 March, my book will hit shops across Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia (Sticky is already available as an e-book and audiobook here). So to celebrate, I'm having two launch events - one in Schrodinger's, my wonderful local bookshop, and the other in the Irish Embassy in the centre of Wellington. I really, really hope they can go ahead!
And finally, a sneaky treat for those who made it this far.... there are officially some translations of Sticky on the horizon! I can't discuss the specifics publicly yet, but I'm excited to share the news soon :)