The New Optimists – "the most exhilarating of books"

Nigh on a year ago Kate Cooper walked into a social media surgery here in Birmingham and started talking about a book she was going to publish.

She had, she told me, persuaded 80 or so scientists from the West Midlands to write a few hundred words in response to the question “what makes you optimistic?” Jenny Uglow (the historian who wrote the brilliant story of the Lunar Society:  The Lunar Men) had agreed to write the foreword.

At the time I thought oh yeh…I was very wrong to doubt Kate, even for a moment.  I’m now working a little with her and she’s one of the most focused and determined people I know.  She has set up a non profit publishing arm, is launching the book at the British Science Festival in Birmingham next month and the collection has become a brilliant reality.

So we now have 81 very clever people and their ideas for the future.  As Jenny Uglow describes it:

“The New Optimists is the most exhilarating of books. It looks to the future, not through rose-tinted glasses, but with a clear vision, aware of difficulties and challenges yet convinced that research and experiment can help the human race to overcome them. It seems entirely right that scientists should step forth and speak out in this way, on the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Society. Right too that the 2010 meeting of the British Science Association should be held in Birmingham, a place that has always been a town of forges and anvils, of making and invention, a crucible of ideas.”

To get a copy go here or here.


  1. I remember you putting Kate with me on one evening when she came to a social media surgery. I don’t think I managed to tell her that much about how she might use the web to promote her book, but I was certainly bowled over by her enthusiasm for what sounded like a fascinating project.

    I’ve just ordered the book.

  2. Sarah Gee says:

    Yep, about to do the same. I remember Kate talking about that the same night, and althoug I already knew her to be determined, etc. I too thought “yeh yeh”. Delighted that it’s all come to fruition and can’t wait to start reading!

  3. Kate Baker says:

    The launch this evening was a dassling, intelligent, witty success – much like the book it seems! I cannot wait to tuck in and find out which child toy inspired the contact lens… can’t believe I’m this excited about a science book! Although I can believe I’m this excited about a book that sensibly, logically and creatively builds a case for why the west midlands is so special and why we MUST invest in ‘the future’ – Thanks Kate et al!!

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