The Royal Society Prizes for Science Books is an annual award for the previous year's best general science writing and best science writing for children. The nominees and winners are decided by the Royal Society, the UK national academy of science. It is generally considered to be the most prestigious science writing award, and is sometimes referred to as the Booker Prize of science writing.
The prizes were established in 1988 when they were sponsored by Rhône-Poulenc and known as the Rhône-Poulenc Prizes. Following the emerger of Rhône-Poulenc, from 2000 to 2006 they were sponsored by the Aventis Foundation, and were known as the Aventis Prizes for Science Books.
Entries are open to any book published in English in the preceding calendar year, that can be purchased in the UK. Two judging panels, one for the General Prize (for best general science writing) and one for the Junior Prize (for best science writing for young people up to the age of 14) assess the entries and select a longlist of around 12 books and then a shortlist of six books. The General Prize panel then select the winner. The winner of the Junior Prize is selected by panels of school-age children (a total of 800 in 75 groups for the 2005 Prizes). The winner in each category receives £10,000. £1000 per book is awarded to the authors of the remaining shortlisted books.
This category is awarded to the best science writing for a non-specialist audience.
The winner of the 2007 Royal Society Prizes for Science Books Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert.
The Rough Guide to Climate Change by Robert Henson
The winner of the 2006 Aventis Prizes for Science Book Prize was announced on 16 May 2006.
Electric Universe - How Electricity Switched on the Modern World, by David Bodanis
The other nominees were:
Power, Sex, Suicide - Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life, by Nick Lane
Empire of the Stars - Friendship, Obsession and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes, by Arthur I Miller
Parallel Worlds - The Science of Alternative Universes and our Future in the Cosmos, by Michio Kaku
Collapse - How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond
The Truth About Hormones - What's Going on when We're Tetchy, Spotty, Fearful, Tearful or Just Plain Awful, by Vivienne Parry
It was Jared Diamond's third nomination for the prize, having won twice previously.
The 2006 prize was the last one to be sponsored by the Aventis Foundation - the Royal Society are currently looking for a new sponsor.
The Aventis Prizes for Science Book winner was announced on May 12, 2005:
Critical Mass: How One Thing Leads to Another, by Philip Ball ISBN 0-374-28125-4