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Tiger Woods is driving force behind book’s comeback

Scientist and writer Dr John Gribbin

The law of unexpected consequences came into play when Tiger Woods’ car prang made headlines round the world , boosting the sales of a University of Sussex scientist’s book, which was spotted in the footwell of the golfer’s crashed car.

The book, Get A Grip on New Physics, was photographed in the footwell of the golfer’s car after he was involved in a crash outside his American home.

The golfer’s choice of reading matter sparked interest in the book, which has now sold out in the USA, with second-hand copies fetching $75 each. It shot up the Amazon bestsellers table, from an obscure 396,224 to the rather impressive ranking of 2,268 and has now sparked media interest around the world.

Academic and writer Dr John Gribbin is a prolific author of accessible science books, science fiction and biographies, including: In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat, Time Travel for Beginners and In Search of Superstrings, Symmetry, Membranes and the Theory of Everything.

His current book, In Search of the Multiverse, confronts the idea that our Universe may be one among many diverse universes and guides the reader through complex ideas that have transmuted from science fiction into modern physics.

Dr Gribbin says: “The book is aimed at non-scientists interested in "big physics" stories like the Large Hadron Collider, string theory, black holes. But it’s ten years old now and hard to get hold of.

“Tiger Woods is certainly one of the target audience. He is an ‘intelligent layman’ who has time to dip in to a book like this on the plane between engagements. At a guess, he's been following stories about the Large Hadron Collider and wanted to know more about big physics.”

It remains to be seen whether the book will inspire Tiger Woods to pursue a career in physics or space science, but Dr Gribbin is certainly noticing a general rise in interest in physics. He says: “Several of my books have shown a slight rise in sales this year. I'm pretty sure it's because of all the publicity for the Large Hadron Collider, making people more aware of physics.”

Notes for Editors


John Gribbin is Visiting Fellow in Astronomy at the University of Sussex, where he teaches the course Our Place in the Cosmos. His books have been translated into many languages, and have won awards in both Britain and the United States. He also writes science fiction.

Get A Grip on New Physics (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999) is no longer in print.

To find out more about physics at the University of Sussex, visit: Physics and Astronomy

Last updated: Monday, 7 December 2009