I was born in Penticton, which is at one end of Okanogan Lake in British Columbia, Canada. Okanogan Lake is famous for what locals call the "Ogopogo." In case you're not familiar with the Ogopogo, he's a distant cousin of the Lake Ness monster. I spent a lot of time on the lake while in Penticton, but I never did see the Ogopogo, although I met a few people who claim they did. Most of them were tourists, of course.
I hadn't been back to Penticton for several years when I heard there was a school reunion a couple of years ago. I had missed all the previous ones so I was anxious to go to this one. And as it turned out, it was delightful. I got to meet all those people I hadn't seen since I was eighteen. Wow --what a change! I'm sure I would have walked right by most of them on the street, but it was an enjoyable experience.
When I graduated from high school I went to Vancouver to attend the University of British Columbia. A few years earlier I had walked across the campus just to see what a university student looked like.(I was sure I had never seen one.) To my surprise they looked like everyone else. I signed up for the honors physics program and three years later I had a BA in physics. I then went on for a M.Sc. in solid state physics.
My true love, though, was theoretical physics. I was hooked on Einstein's theories after reading "The Universe and Dr. Einstein" by Lincoln Barnett. It all happened more or less by accident. I had joined the local library in hopes of reading some "real cool" books. I wasn't sure what "real cool" entailed, but one of the first books I took home was Barnett's book, and I was intrigued.
Soon after I graduated I came to the U.S., and for my Ph.D. I went to Utah State University to study theoretical physics, and although I spent a lot of time studying Einstein's theories my thesis was on particle interactions.
Actually, I taught for a couple of years before getting my Ph.D.. The school was Weber State College (it's now Weber State University) in Ogden, Utah, and the two years I spent there are still etched in my mind as wonderful years. Teaching was a new experience to me, and I loved it. The students were a delight.
I thought about going back to Weber after I received my Ph.D., but I got an offer from Idaho State university in Pocatello and decided to take it. It was while I was at Idaho State that I began to write. My first project was an astronomy textbook. I was teaching a large class on astronomy, and soon decided it would be "neat" to use my own text in the class. So I wrote one. Actually, it wasn't quite that easy -- it took me over five years -- but I used it until I retired.
I was soon hooked on writing and began writing for magazines. As an avid flyfisherman, several of my first articles were on flyfishing, but I soon began to write popular science articles for "Astronomy Magazine" and "Sky and Telescope." It wasn't long before I decided to try my hand at a popular science book. I'm now on my twentieth and am still at it.
A Brief Survey of Some of My Recent Books
My latest book is on writing and selling books. The writing part is based on a course in writing that I taught at ISU for several years. It is titled "Your Book," and I have described it in some detail on my home page. Not long ago I also finished a book on health and fitness titled "Feel Great Feel Alive." In many ways it grew out of a course in biophysics that I taught for many years, and also from my research on DNA and RNA.
Another book I finished recently was one for the Smithsonian titled "Science 101:Physics." It is physics for the layman, so it's easy to read and has about 250 color pictures in it. Aside from my textbook "Concepts of the Cosmos," my first popular book was "Einstein's Dream." Einstein has always intrigued me; I guess it's because much of my research while at ISU was related to his theories. for most people -- myself included -- his life gives us some consolation. As is well-known, he flunked the entrance exams at university, ranked fouth of of five in his class, and couldn't find a full-time job for two years after he graduated. Yet he went on to become the most famous scientist that ever lived. Needless to say, this gives the rest of us hope. (After the first one I eventually wrote three more books on Einstein.)
I also recently wrote a book on cars titled "Isaac Newton's School of Driving." It was a new experience for me, but I loved writing it. I'm all thumbs when it comes to taking a car apart, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying them. It's amazing how much physics is involved in cars, and I tried to cover most of it in this book.
My second book for Johns Hopkins Press was about the science in the James Bond movies,and if you're a Bond fan you know there's a lot of science in all of them. It's a book you won't want to miss if you're a fan. Finally I've also written a couple of children's books; my latest is titled "Baby's in the Doghouse." It's a wonderful book for small children, ages 3 to 9.