Simon Winchester is a geologist, journalist, explorer and New York Times best-selling author who writes about the natural forces that shape the earth - earthquakes, volcanoes, floods and tsunamis. He will give a lecture at the University of Nevada, Reno's Discover Science Lecture Series at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 1, and will have a book-signing session following the lecture.
Winchester explores the how and why of world-changing events, such as the 1883 volcanic eruption at Krakatoa and the 1906 earthquake and fire that flattened San Francisco, and the 21st-century tsunamis that devastated Indonesia and Japan.
His lecture, titled "The Man Who Made the Map that Changed the World," explores how human history was changed by the world's first geological map.
"It is 200 years ago exactly that William Smith, a humbly born and orphaned Englishman, published the world's first geological map," Winchester said. "I hope that by speaking about my discovery of his strange and uplifting story I will help to restore to public memory the life of a stubborn and determined man whose remarkable, courageous and single-handed achievement managed to alter, and at a stroke, the entire course of human history."
Winchester has written and published a dozen books, his latest, "Pacific," is due to be released on Oct. 27. Other books he's written include "Krakatoa," "The Map that Changed the World," "A Crack in the Edge of the World" and "The Men Who United the States." He was named Britain's Journalist of the Year in 1971, and was awarded an Order of the British Empire for his services to journalism and literature.
Winchester survived an earthquake in New Zealand, skied through Greenland to study plate tectonics and charred the soles of his boots climbing a volcano, all of which inform his writing. He doesn't just explore the physical environment, but also explores how science, technology and societies are impacted by these natural occurrences.
He lives in New York and on a small farm in the Berkshires. His interests include letterpress printing, bee-keeping, astronomy, stamp-collecting, model railways and cider-making.
Now in its sixth year, the annual Discover Science Lecture Series brings renowned scientists and science lecturers from around the country to share their knowledge with the community.
"The College of Science celebrates living a life of discovery," Jeff Thompson, dean of the College of Science, said. "With the lecture series we want our community to experience the extent of the universe through science as some of the best scientists on the planet visit Nevada and tell their stories."
Other speakers scheduled for the Discover Science Lecture Series are Karl Karstrom, expert on the Grand Canyon, Nov. 19; David Quammen, science author, Feb. 4; Paul Alan Cox, ethnomedicine expert, March 10; and Bob Williams, Hubble Space Telescope project leader, April 21.
Past Discover Science Lecture Series speakers include, among others, Bill Nye the Science Guy; anthropologist Anna Roosevelt; physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson; Nobel Laureate and physicist Eric Cornell; chemist and green energy expert Harry Gray; Jeff Lieberman, musician, artist, researcher and host of Time Warp on the Discovery Channel; Robert Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic; and Michio Kaku, futurist and theoretical physicist.
The lecture will be held at 7 p.m. in the Redfield Auditorium in the Davidson Mathematics and Science Center on the University campus. Parking is reserved for the event on the top level of the Brian J. Whalen Parking Complex on North Virginia Street. Admission is free. For more information, call 775-784-4591 or visit the College of Science website at www.unr.edu/science.