Friday, January 30, 2009

Interview in The Australian

My interview with Australia's national paper 'The Australian' has just appeared online - you can find it here:,25197,24986084-26040,00.html

I'm particularly humbled by the compliments of Australia's prize-winning neuroscientist Professor Allan Snyder (whose work I write about in 'Embracing the Wide Sky') who describes my book in the article as: "an extraordinary and monumental achievement...It is as if he has packed 12 years of research into this book, it is intellectually rigorous, insightful and beautifully written for anybody let alone somebody with autism."

UK and Canada Bestseller!

'Embracing the Wide Sky' has just hit the UK bestseller list - no.8 in today's the Independent/Waterstone's chart. It has also made the non-fiction bestseller list (no.9). Thanks to all my readers for their fantastic support!

Swedish Article

Monday, January 26, 2009

French edition of 'Embracing the Wide Sky'

The French edition of 'Embracing the Wide Sky' (Embrasser le Ciel Immense) is now available - I translated the book myself, with the kind assistance of my partner Jerome.

For any francophones reading this: Je serai sur le plateau du 'Grand Journal' (Canal Plus) mardi le 27 janvier a partir de 20h!

Articles in the Times and FT

Here are a couple of articles that have just appeared in the Times and the Financial Times on my new book 'Embracing the Wide Sky' and its ideas:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Promotional tour photos

Appearing on CBC's 'The Hour' with host George Stroumboulopoulos

UK edition of 'Embracing the Wide Sky'

Signing copies of 'Embracing' in Toronto

Giving a talk at London's Science Museum Dana Centre

With psychiatrist Dr. Norman Doidge and Canadian TV presenter Steve Paikin for the TVO show 'The Agenda'

In the hot seat for an interview for 'Good Morning America NOW' in New York

Friday, January 16, 2009

CBC 'The Hour' Interview

On Wednesday I appeared on CBC's late night show 'The Hour' and talked with host George Stroumboulopoulos about my life and ideas, and put him to the test as you'll see in this link to the interview!:

Overcoming Information Overload

Here's an excerpt (from chapter 8) from my new book 'Embracing the Wide Sky' that's appearing on the online version of the 'Advocate' magazine:

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Scientific American Interview

I recently did an interview for Scientific American, discussing some of the ideas in my new book 'Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind'. Here's the link:

Sunday, January 04, 2009

On Perception

Here are a couple of extracts and an image from chapter 7 (on vision/perception) of my new book 'Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind':

"Color is a good way to illustrate the remarkable variety and subjectivity of our perceptions. The range of colors that we see when we look around us, though impressive, is in fact far from exhaustive. Humans are normally able to perceive colors with wavelengths of 400 nanometers (violet) through to 700 nanometers (red), with purples, blues, greens, yellows and oranges in between. Birds, however, can see what we cannot – ultraviolet range colors with shorter wavelengths (between 340 and 400nm). For every color that we see, our feathered friends see many more. "

(From a later section of the chapter:)

"Ambiguous images have long been a staple of optical illusions – images that are designed to demonstrate the vagaries of our perceptions. The ‘open book’ illusion, for example, invented by the German psychologist Ernst Mach, can be seen as either open towards or away from the viewer. Once both perspectives are seen, the viewer’s eye will oscillate between the two representations as our brains try to make sense of what it is seeing..."

Saturday, January 03, 2009

On Creativity

Here are a couple of short extracts from chapter 6 (on creativity) of my new book 'Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind':

"Like the philosophers of the past, today’s neuroscientists are seeking to understand what makes some people especially creative. Some believe the answer to this age-old enigma can be found in the biology of the brain. Synaesthesia, the scientific term for a mingling of the senses, offers a valuable window on how the brain produces original, creative thoughts, according to neurologist Vilayanur Ramachandran who has been studying the phenomenon for the past two decades"

(From a later section of the chapter:)

"Linguists have long been intrigued by cases of healthy young children (usually twins) who invent their own languages between themselves, without any special assistance or training from adults...This exuberant invention of original word forms by young children has been documented in a range of languages around the world, suggesting that such creativity may be a natural part of the process by which some children acquire a full grasp of their native language."

The book is available now for purchase online at:

Friday, January 02, 2009

Interview in the New Scientist

The 'New Scientist' magazine has just published an interview with me for their January edition. You can read it in full online here:

Numbers in the Mind

Here are a couple of short extracts from chapter 5 (about the relationship between numbers/math and our minds) of my new book 'Embracing the Wide Sky: A Tour Across the Horizons of the Mind':

"How is this mental number line organized in the human mind? There are several clues. One is found when you ask people to think of a number at random between 1 and 50. Though it might be supposed that each response would occur around 2% (1 in 50) of the time, in fact, given a large enough sample of people, a systematic bias can be observed: people will tend to produce smaller numbers more frequently than larger ones. This suggests that numbers are mentally represented rather like the logarithmic scale on a slide rule where roughly equal space is given to the interval between 1 and 2, between 2 and 4 or between 4 and 8. Our ‘mental ruler,’ it would seem, compresses larger numbers into a smaller space, which is why smaller numbers are more accessible to our minds."

(From a later part of the chapter:)

"As many as 10-15% of people report some kind of graphic mental representation of numbers. Francis Galton, a psychologist and cousin of Charles Darwin, carried out the first of these surveys back in 1880. The responses he obtained offer a fascinating glimpse into the sheer variety of mental number representations... some of the number lines had twists and bends, some turned upside down or back on themselves. A physicist replying to Galton’s questionnaire described seeing numbers in the form of a horseshoe, with 0 at the bottom right, 50 at the top and 100 at the bottom left. Another respondent, a barrister, described visualising the numbers 1-12 as though on the face of a clock, with the following numbers tailing off afterwards into an undulating stream with the tens – 20, 30, 40, etc. – at each bend."

The book is now available for purchase online here: