Oh, hello there, friends! Did you know that physics is a very important part of our everyday lives? In my new book Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure I investigate the laws of the Universe, those fundamental rules that describe the nature of our world and beyond. Joining me is for the ride is illustrator Ben Newman who will be talking to you today about some of the other great books that have inspired our latest Atomic Adventure.
‘How many atoms do you think there would be at the very tip of a pencil? Three atoms? Four atoms? Nope, There would be over ten trillion atoms right on the very tip of the pencil. That is CRAZY SMALL!’
Ben: I bought ‘Our Friend the Atom’ years ago off eBay. It was a big inspiration for ‘Atomic Adventure’ and ‘Frontiers of Space’.
Our Friend the Atom is actually a weird piece of 50s nuclear propaganda made by Disney. It features many of the artists that worked for Walt Disney illustrating the book. It was even a TV programme featuring a mix of real life and animated sections, which you can find on youtube.
Aside from that, it is a beautiful physics book with some incredible diagrams and drawings inside aimed at children.
‘An important part of any experiment involves measuring and there are many ways that physicists can measure an experiment and many different instruments they can use to get accurate results’
Making sure that the foundation information like measurements is in the book is so important for the reader. Everything in the Professor Astro Cat books start simple and gradually layer up more information as you read through the book.
Measurement is something we, as adults, take for granted but its important to introduce a child to it in a fun and bright way. This ‘Measurements’ book by Tillie Pine, Joseph Levine and illustrated by Harriet Sherman was really inspiring for me whe I was working on ‘Atomic Adventure’. The pictures are funny and perfectly convey the information in the book.
‘Energy makes everything around us happen! Whenever anything changes in any way it is because energy is being turned from one form into another. It can never be created or destroyed, only transformed. So the Universe contains exactly the same amount of energy today as it did when it first began!’
Ben: I found this book (The Universe and Planet Earth by Josip and Jakes) for £2 in a bookshop that is also a Thai restaurant. It happened to be on the shelf above my girlfriend’s head and I paid for it alongside our meal.
Published in 1985, this hefty, full-illustrated tome includes information on just about everything in physics from everyday things like energy to quarks and quasars.
It’s aimed at adults and has some jaw-droppingly detailed drawings of everything like the Big Bang, the complexity of Atoms and the forces that hold the universe together. Pretty big stuff but an absolute joy to get lost in over and over.
‘Most things that are moving tend to slow down and stop because they feel the force of friction from whatever they are moving over. If there was no friction, things would keep moving in the same direction at the same speed forever!’
Ben: Another book by Tillie Pine and Joseph Levine but this time illustrated by Bernice Myers. This is the best book I’ve seen for Children about friction.
Bernice Myers’ illustrations are so utterly fantastic and expain some difficult thjngs really well. She gives a great sense of energy to subjects that are very physical and involve a lot of motion in her still drawings.
‘Some scientists think that there might be an infinite number of other Universes – a multiverse – some with slightly different laws of physics and others which are exactly the same as this one. Each one of these would have another version of you in it, although unfortuately we don’t yet know how to test this theory let alone travel there!’
Ben: When I was a kid, I loved all of the DC and Marvel alternative universe stories. DC published their stories in feature length comics called ‘Elseworlds’ and Marvel had a monthly series called ‘What If?’. I remember stories like ‘Superman’s rocket crash lands in Gotham so he becomes Batman’ and ‘What if… Wolverine killed the Hulk?
But I vividly remember a specific series of Batman ones called ‘Red Rain’. It told the story of Batman becoming a vampire after fighting Dracula and his descent into madness and blood-thirst. I dont think my parents were quite sure what they had brought me but it was my first glimpse of horror comics and ignited my fascination of parallel universe stories in comic books and TV.
We wanted to investigate other multiverse versions of Professor Astro Cat in the ‘Atomic Adventure’ and I loved coming up with all of the different incarnations of him.
Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure by Dr Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman is published by Flying Eye