Bill's own fascination with science began with a battered old schoolbook he had when he was about ten or eleven years old in America. It had an illustration that captivated him - a cutaway diagram showing Earth's interior as it would look if you cut into it with a large knife and carefully removed about a quarter of its bulk. The idea of lots of startled cars and people falling off the edge of that sudden cliff(and 4,000 miles is a pretty long way to fall) was what grabbed him in the beginning, but gradually his attention turned to what the picture was trying to teach him - namely, that Earth's interior is made up of several different layers of materials, and at the very centre of it all is a glowing sphere of iron and nickel, which is as hot as the surface of the Sun, according to the caption. And he very clearly remembers thinking: "How do they know that?"
Bill's story-telling skill makes the "How?" and, just as importantly, the "Who?" of scientific discovery entertaining and accessible for all ages. In this exciting new edition for younger readers, he covers the wonder and mysteries of time and space, the frequently bizarre and often obsessive scientists and the methods they used, the crackpot theories which held sway for far too long, the extraordinary accidental discoveries which suddenly advanced whole areas of science when the people were actually looking for something else (or in the wrong direction) and the mind-boggling fact that, somehow, the universe exists and, against all odds, life came to be on this wondrous planet we call home.