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Hance creates 'Book of Science Days' for layman, scientist, everyone in between

January, 2001
Elisabeth Sherwin -- gizmo@dcn.davis.ca.us

Enterprise feature article

Here is a science book that will please even the most hardcore liberal arts major.

It's "The Book of Science Days" compiled by Anne Hance of Davis, illustrated by Kathy West. It's a fund-raiser for the non-profit Explorit Science Center, Davis' own hands-on science museum.

Hance was one of the founders and the executive director of Explorit for 10 years. She continues her involvement with a seat on the board of directors ("I couldn't shake loose," she said) plus taking on projects like "The Book of Science Days."

This 225-page book is a calendar/diary that gives you the birthdate of famous scientist and tells you a little about their work.

For instance, today, Jan. 10, is the birthday of astronomer Robert Woodrow Wilson who was born in 1936 in Houston. He shared in the 1978 Nobel Prize in physics for his work measuring radio signals from galactic hydrogen, which he identified as radio remnants of the cosmic Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe.

The idea for the book was first launched in 1990. Hance thought workers at the Science Center could fill in bits of down time by looking up birthdays of famous scientists. But this idea didn't work too well as a group project, she said.

So after Hance retired she decided to pick up the project again, soliciting short comments from famous local and international scientists to start off each month, finding an illustrator and designer, working with a printer.

"It's been a labor of love, tedious, interesting, frustrating," she said.

She was able to collect short essays from Edward Teller, Geerat Vermeij, Richard Walters, Kelly Stewart, Kenneth L. Verosub, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Mont Hubbard, Glenn E. Nedwin, Carol Erickson, Lars W.J. Anderson, Thomas A. Cahill and Richard Leakey, a group that reflects strong local flavor.

"This is not an academic project," said Hance. "It's intended to help the Science Center meets its mission of not just teaching science but helping people to get interested and more comfortable with science. And since dates are an integral part of our lives, we hope people will keep this book of days around, and dip into it from time to time, perhaps to use as their own birthday book."

At least one satisfied customer, Kari Peterson of Davis Community Television, was very happy to receive "The Book of Science Days" from her husband as a holiday gift. She plans to use it to record important birthdays of friends and relatives.

"Jim gave me your book for Christmas and I'm really enjoying it," she told Hance. "It's such a clever compilation."

Hance, in turn, credits UC Davis scientific illustrator Kathy West for the drawings that occur throughout the book.

"I can't praise her enough," said Hance. In addition to the drawings, West formatted the entire book on her computer.

"It was an immense project," said Hance. "And it was all done by volunteers." Hance said she became interested in studying science when she was a schoolgirl in England. She went on to teach biology in England, but did not continue teaching when she and her husband, Jim, moved to Los Angeles in 1959 for what was to be a one-year visit to the United States and has yet to end.

The Hance family moved to Davis in 1968, with three sons, David, Peter and John.

About 10 years later, Hance and others began talking about a local science center, which began in 1979 when several Davis women, teachers, scientists, naturalists and an architect, resurrected the idea for a science center that had been kicking around. It's now located at 3141 Fifth St. The actual founding took place in 1982 and the center has more than met the founders' dreams in all aspects except for the acquisition of permanent facility.

"I have always been fascinated and intrigued by science," added Hance. "I suppose it's a matter of chance and exposure, too. Many scientists say they were influenced by a particular person to follow this line of work."

What about people who say they don't like science?

"I don't believe there are people not interested in science unless they define it too narrowly," she said. "They may be afraid of the part they don't understand like math and rules that govern phenomenon and they equate that, unfairly, with science."

Hance is particularly interested in computer science and spends much of her continuing volunteer time maintaining and updating the Science Center website. Hance said she enjoyed learning how to create web pages.

"I felt tickled to be doing something in a field dominated by young people, mostly male," she said. "I was the only one in it with white hair," she laughed.

Copies of "The Book of Science Days" ($19.95) can be bought at local bookstores, the Science Center, over the web, at the Naturalist in downtown Davis and The Next Chapter in Woodland. In good weather, you may find Hance selling the book at the Farmers' Market. Go to the Science Center on the Web at www.dcn.davis.ca.us/go/explorit

To inquire about ordering any of the above mentioned books from an independent bookstore,
Bogey's Books at discounted prices [ Click Here ]

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