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Bestselling Author Dava Sobel to Speak at RWU on March 27

Public invited to free President’s Distinguished Speakers Series event featuring author of ‘Galileo’s Daughter’ and ‘Longitude’
Photo by: Libi Pedder

In few places do art and science intersect as brilliantly as in the words of Dava Sobel – science writer, storyteller and author of the acclaimed bestsellers “Longitude” (1995), “Galileo’s Daughter” (1999) and “A More Perfect Heaven” (2011).

On Tuesday, March 27, members of the public are invited to spend an evening with Sobel as part of the President’s Distinguished Speakers Series at Roger Williams University.

The conversation will focus on “A More Perfect Heaven” – which chronicles the story of Copernicus in the 16th century as he defies common sense, daring to challenge the idea of “the Earth as center of the universe” and anointing the sun as chief celestial instead – as well as Sobel’s take on writing about science for mainstream audiences today.

“Not only does Dava Sobel unearth the hidden tales that make science and history such intriguing disciplines, but she transforms them into an exquisite prose that delights readers,” says RWU President Donald J. Farish. “Her stories challenge each of us in her audience to rethink our understanding of the world around us, and her visit to Roger Williams promises to enlighten.”

Sobel is a former New York Times science reporter who has worked for more than 40 years as a journalist and writer, appearing frequently in publications such as The New Yorker, Harvard Magazine, Discover and Life and serving as guest commentator on “The Today Show,” “All Things Considered” and other television and radio programs.

The unexpected success of “Longitude,” which tells the story behind the gridwork of lines that appears on every world map and globe, propelled Sobel into a career as a full-time author of books starting in 1995.

Four years later, she followed up with “Galileo’s Daughter,” which revisits the life of the great Italian scientist through the eyes of his eldest daughter, a cloistered nun. The book won the 1999 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for science and technology, a 2000 Christopher Award and was a finalist for the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in biography.

Sobel’s latest novel, “A More Perfect Heaven,” grew out of her long-standing goal of writing a play about Nicolaus Copernicus. That play, “And the Sun Stood Still,” stands as the centerpiece of the book and dramatizes the astronomer’s story. A nonfiction narrative surrounds the play and traces his impact; the Wall Street Journal calls the book “…lively, inventive and factually defensible.”

The March 27 presentation will take place in the Campus Recreation Center on the University’s Bristol campus at One Old Ferry Road. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the event will begin at 7:30 p.m. A book signing and reception with the author will immediately follow the presentation.

The entire event is free and open to the public; no advance tickets are required. For more information, call (401) 254-3201.

The President’s Distinguished Speakers Series at Roger Williams University launched in October 2011 as the University welcomed ambassador, activist and public servant Andrew Young to campus for a public discussion. The series invites thought leaders from a wide range of disciplines to share perspectives, inspire conversations and enrich the intellectual lives of students, faculty and staff at Roger Williams as well as members of the local community.

As part of the President’s Distinguished Speakers Series, each guest is invited to devote much of the daylong visit to direct engagement with students in classroom sessions, offering RWU students unique opportunities for one-on-one interactions with some of the world’s leading authors, scholars, artists and public servants.