The Science of Star Wars


Capturing the imagination and hearts of crowds worldwide, Star Wars is a fantastic feat of science fiction and fantasy. We marvel at the variety of creatures and technology and the mystery behind the force. But how much of the Star Wars world is rooted in reality? Could we see some of the extraordinary inventions materialize in our world?

The Science of Star Wars addresses fifty topics that span the movies universe such as battle technology, alien life, space travel, and so on. You’ll find fascinating explorations of physics, plausibility, and more. The book addresses many unanswered, burning questions including:
• How long before we get a Star Wars speeder off the ground?
• What exactly is the Force?
• How could Kylo Ren stop a blaster shot in mid-air?
• How could we live on a gas giant like Bespin?
• Nature versus nurture: How does it play out in the making of Jedi?
• How much would it cost to build the Death Star?






















Planet Earth. Four elements. One incredible story.  THE BIG EARTH BOOK takes you on a rollercoaster ride through history, geography, science and more to show how four elements – earth, fire, air and water – created the world and everything that exists today in. Amazing facts, photography, and illustrations bring our planet and its past to life in an exciting, engaging way.

This book was created and written by Mark, illustrated by Brendan Kearney, and edited by Lonely Planet.

The Alien Hunters Handbook

Mark’s book, The Alien Hunters’ Handbook, for Kingfisher/MacMillan, was published in October 2012.

The Alien Hunters’ Handbook takes a step-by-step look at the ways in which we are searching for life in the Universe.  It looks at what life ‘is’ and how we might recognize it.  The handbook looks at how we can find alien worlds, where life is a possibility.  It also considers when it was that alien life could have begun in the Universe, and what aliens might look like.

The Alien Hunters’ Handbook also looks at the way in which we might communicate with extra-terrestrials. Have aliens already been in contact with Earth, and have they visited? Are we ourselves from outer space? Did we arrive in another form, in years gone by, and then develop into what we call ‘human beings’?

Alien Life Imagined

alienCUPMark’s book for Cambridge University Press, Alien Life Imagined, , was published on November 8.  The book’s summary is,

“One day, astrobiologists could make the most fantastic discovery of all time: the detection of complex extraterrestrial life. As space agencies continue to search for life in our Universe, fundamental questions are raised: are we awake to the revolutionary effects on human science, society and culture that alien contact will bring? And how is it possible to imagine the unknown? In this book, Mark Brake tells the compelling story of how the portrayal of extraterrestrial life has developed over the last two and a half thousand years. Taking examples from the history of science, philosophy, film and fiction, he showcases how scholars, scientists, film-makers and writers have devoted their energies to imagining life beyond this Earth. From Newton to Kubrick, and Lucian to H. G. Wells, this is a fascinating account for anyone interested in the extraterrestrial life debate, from general readers to amateur astronomers and undergraduate students studying astrobiology”

Alien Life Imagined can be ordered here

Really Really Big Questions About Space and Time

Mark’s book, Really, Really Big Questions about Space and Time, published October 2010, is a quirky introduction to the science of space. It explores those massive, complicated, weird, and often unanswered questions such as: What makes sunshine? Does space smell? How do you build a time machine? and Do aliens look like me?

The book is brilliantly illustrated by Nishant Choksi, an exciting Brighton-based illustrator who has created artworks for The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, The Wall Street Journal, NewScientist, and Vodafone.


Space Hoppers

Mark was involved in a television program, and spin-off book, for the BBC.

The series, Space Hoppers, is a seven x 30-minute interplanetary adventure in which intrepid travellers investigate worlds beyond our own and try to find out exactly what you would need to do to take a holiday in outer space, do a bit of space hopping. They delve into the wonders of the Solar System, blending global adventures with explosive experiments, and quirky animation with state-of-the-art CGI.

Each episode explores a holiday-related theme, from holidays in the Sun to volcano-spotting. The search takes in extreme environments, wild weather and the best places in the Solar System to ‘enjoy’ a bit of snow and ice. Science rapper Jon Chase appears throughout the series, directing the explosive experiments, and performing a specially commissioned rap for each episode.

Mark, who acted as science advisor to the program, wrote the spin off title for the series. The book helps explore the Sun, ice, volcanoes, comets, extreme weather, extreme distances and water on Earth and in the Solar System. The book is also packed with experiments that can be done at home.

2010 was Year of Science at the BBC. Timed to coincide with the Royal Society’s 350th anniversary, Space Hoppers was part of the year-long series of programmes and activities in a celebration of science.


Revolution in Science

Mark had two books published in Autumn 2009 by MacMillan. Both are academic in nature, and can be bought through Amazon. The books are Revolution in Science: How Galileo and Darwin Changed Our World, and Introducing Science Communication

Book Project: Galileo and Darwin


Mark’s ‘Revolution in Science’ book project for MacMillan was on the topic of Galileo and Darwin. 2009 was a cause célèbre for both scientists, and a watershed for the weapons of discovery they used in the name of science. The year marked both the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s discoveries with the telescope, and the 150th anniversary of the theory of natural selection.

Different Engines

Mark Brake: Different EnginesDifferent Engines: How Science Drives Fiction and Fiction Drives Science looks at the relationship between science and science fiction.  It’s based on the idea that since its emergence in the seventeenth century, science fiction (SF) has been a sustained, coherent and subversive check on the promises and pitfalls of science.  And in their turn, invention and discovery have forced fiction writers to confront the nature and limits of reality. Different Engines is the first popular science book to explore how this fascinating symbiosis shapes what we see, do and dream.
From Johannes Kepler‘s Somnium to Stanley Kubrick‘s 2001: A Space Odyssey, science fiction has emerged as a mode of thinking, complementary to the scientific method. SF’s field of interest is the gap between the new worlds uncovered by experimentation and exploration, and the fantastic worlds of the imagination. Its proponents find drama in the tension between the familiar and the unfamiliar. Its readers, many of them scientists and politicians, find inspiration in the contrast between the ordinary and the extraordinary.  Different Engines is a unique, provocative and compelling account of science fiction as the arbiter of progress.

Revolutions in science, and their reciprocal relationship with science fiction, drive the narrative of Different Engines.

For the first time, discovery and invention delineate the evolution of science fiction:

A Plurality of Habitable Worlds: The Age of Discovery (1500 – 1800)

Remembrance of Things To Come: The Mechanical Age (C19th)

Pulp Fiction: The Astounding Age (1900 – 1940)

Cold War and Heat Death: The Atomic Age (1940s, 1950s)

Stranger in a Strange Land: The New Age (1960s, 1970s)

Information Wants to be Free: The Computer Age (1980s, 1990s)

The Frankenstein Century: The Age of Biology (C21st)

Uniquely, each chapter showcases the evolutionary symbiosis of science fiction and science: their common origins identified in The Age of Discovery; the mutual influence of machine, evolution and fiction in The Mechanical Age; the reciprocal refuelling of emergent cosmologies, space opera and real-life space travel anticipated in The Astounding Age; the evolution of bombs and apocalyptic fiction in The Atomic Age; the many worlds, multiverses and alternative histories of quantum theory in The New Age; the prophesised liberating power of the web, and the virtual and tangible realities of AIs, robots and cyborgs in The Computer Age; and fictional projections of our troubled genetically-modified future in The Age of Biology


Mark Brake: FutureWorld
FutureWorld, also written along with colleague Neil Hook, is a popular science book for Boxtree MacMillan and the Science Museum. The book was showcased in June 2008 at the Space, Time, Machine and Monster conference, sponsored by The Welsh Academy, the book was launched on 18 July 2008 by the Science Museum.

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