The wait is finally over! Particle Physics for Babies, the outreach book for newborns themed on high energy physics, has landed at the CERN gift shop, and is also available from the ATLAS secretariat. You can also order a copy from me, online here.
I wrote the book on the last day of my parental leave as a way to communicate my passion to my newborn daughter, Nora. I got a prototype printed online, and she loved it! I eventually showed it to my colleagues at UCL during one of our Friday evening virtual pub sessions (this was still during the Covid19 pandemic…). From that moment, the project seemed to take on its own volition, dragging me along in its wake. I was introduced to the ATLAS outreach coordinators, and then the International Particle Physics Outreach Group, who helped me to refine the concept, and make the excellent suggestion of adding links to downloadable captions (available in English, French and German… and hopefully more languages soon!). Before I knew it, I was looking for commercial printers and getting them through CERN’s procurement system. I learnt a lot about printing then, from bleed lines, to the worldwide paper shortage and the difficulties in printing board books! I was invited to speak at workshops, and even traveled to Bologna to take part in a round-table discussion on outreach in particle physics at ICHEP, the biggest conference in particle physics. The book (and Nora, my daughter!) even featured on the summary presentation on the last day of the conference. The message was: our next big science projects will take decades to design and build. The babies and toddlers of today will one day be the brilliant scientists and engineers who operate these exciting facilities. We need already to be talking to them!
And now, finally, the books are for sale! They are priced at 10 GBP / 12 CHF / 12 EUR, in line with similar prices for similar kids’ books on the market. My hope is that we can reach two audiences: first, the kids, who will have science as part of their environment from day zero. And then also the parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts… who can use the captions to explain what’s going on to their little ones. We all know the best way to learn about a subject is to explain it to someone else 🙂
On a more serious note, the traction the book has received (and the journey it has taken me!) on tell me that this project fills an important gap. I hope that the book finds its way into the imagination of many young minds, so that no one ever writes off STEM as a subject, at school, university or as a career, because they felt “it wasn’t for them”.
You can order your copy (or copies!) of “Particle Physics for Babies” here.