Category: Science Writing

Origins: How the Earth Made Us

OriginsWhy do so many of us eat cereal for breakfast?

Is it because we like the taste? Because it’s so readily available?

Or because the same planetary trends that drove the evolution of humanity also caused the spread of fast-growing grass species?

Why is the world the way it is? If we follow chains of explanation as far back as they go – and keep asking, like a curious child, ‘Why? Why? But WHY?’ – the answers become more and more amazing. We reach the point where history becomes science.

In this ultimate origin story, Professor Lewis Dartnell investigates how the fabric and activity of our planet have governed our evolution, influenced civilisations over millennia, and continue to shape our lives today.

Plate tectonics and ancient climate change, atmospheric circulation and ocean currents – Origins unravels the human story by exposing vast webs of connections that stretch deep into the past, underwrite our modern world and help us face the challenges of the future.

It may even change how you look at your bowl of cereal tomorrow morning…


ORIGINS is out with Penguin Random House in 2019.

The Knowledge: How to Rebuild our World from Scratch

The_Knowledge_bookMaybe an asteroid hit Earth. Perhaps a nuclear war reduced our cities to radioactive rubble. Or avian flu killed most of the population. Whatever the cause, the world as we know it has ended and now the survivors must start again. But how do we set about rebuilding our world from scratch?

Once you’ve salvaged what you can from the debris, how do you grow food and make clothes? How do you generate energy and develop medicines? And once you’ve mastered the essentials, how do you smelt metals, make gunpowder, or build a primitive radio set?

The Knowledge is a guidebook for survivors. We have become disconnected not only from the beautiful fundamentals of science and technology but even from the basic skills and knowledge on which our lives and our world depend.

The Knowledge is a journey of discovery, a book which explains everything you need to know about everything. Here is the blueprint for rebooting civilisation.

It will transform your understanding of the world – and help you prepare for when it’s no longer here.

The Knowledge is a New York Times and Sunday Times best-seller, and the Sunday Times ‘New Thinking’ Book of the Year.

Out now in paperback at all good book stores and online.
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes&Noble

The Knowledge is also available in  Translations in a number of in different languages. Listen to a three minute audio description of the book here

Main book website


A full list of my published articles is here. Or, to explore by the newspaper or magazine, click on the logos in the image below:



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I have published three books:

Life in the UniverseTourists GuideThe KnowledgeOrigins



… and my PhD thesis (UCL; 2007) has  been been reprinted by academic publishers as Martian Death Rays.


I’ve also contributed sections or chapters to several other books:


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Alongside my academic research, I am a prolific science writer. I have won prizes from the The Daily Telegraph, Oxford University Press, NewScientist and  Times Higher Education for my science writing, and I regularly contribute articles to a range of newspapers and magazines. For a full listing of my published articles look here.

I have also published two popular science books and one illustrated children’s book. You can explore these here.


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My Tourist Guide to the Solar System

UK_MY_TOURISTSPACE_small_frontThis title contains everything you need to know for an out-of-this-world travel experience. “My Tourist Guide to the Solar System” brings you amazing digital artwork with fun facts to present space as you’ve never seen it before. Take a day trip to the planets and hike along the Mariner Valley on Mars and grab yourself a souvenir icy pebble from a flight through Saturn’s rings. Amazing illustrations and digital artworks will take you on a spellbinding tour of the planets, moons, and asteroids. This goes beyond the realm of regular space books – it’s out of this world.

[Get this on Amazon]

Microbes to Mars

Microbes_to_MarsRussian space scientists are currently locked in a race against time. The Fobos-Grunt space probe was launched successfully on Tuesday, but then failed to fire its own rocket engine to leave Earth orbit. The unmanned spacecraft is currently stranded just above our heads, and the rocket scientists have only a fortnight to successfully contact the stricken probe and fire its propulsion system before the batteries fail and it reenters the Earth’s atmosphere as an expensive shooting star.

Read full story on The Huffington Post website