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Surprise Royal Society prize win by wave-watching author

All kinds of waves from Mexican to seaside

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British designer and author Gavin Pretor-Pinney has won the 2011 Royal Society Winton Prize for Science Books for his popular science entry The Wavewatcher's Companion.

“I’m really grateful to the jury, the Royal Society and [sponsor] Winton Capital Management. What interests me in science is that it follows from being curious about the world around us. I hope my book motivates others to be curious too!” Pretor-Pinney said on winning the £10,000 prize.

The book starts from a day out on the beach with his daughter and goes on to look at waves in every form, from the ocean to light to Mexican waves at a football match.

Top judge Richard Holmes praised the book for its "old-fashioned charm and wit" and for bringing science to life in a new way.

"The Wavewatcher’s Companion used relatively straight-forward science to transform our perspective on the world around us, both visible and invisible, in a completely radical way," he said. "We were inspired to see waves everywhere, and we were given an almost poetic vision of a dynamic universe."

Pretor-Pinney, who also penned best-selling The Cloudspotter's Guide, beat off competition from five other authors to win the prize, each of whom got a £1000 award for making the shortlist.

The first chapter of each of the shortlisted books is available to download free from the Royal Society website here. ®

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