Move over Isaac Newton! There’s a new gravity expert in town. A new children’s book by a renowned Australian scientist will teach children about the science behind gravity, via the story of a flightless bird – an emu named Henry.
Henry the Flying Emu has been developed by Australian scientist Niraj Lal, who is a Visiting Fellow with the ANU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, a radio and TV presenter, and was named one of the ABC’s Top 5 Scientists Under 40 in 2016.
The story follows Henry’s quest to learn to fly with the help of a few friends, to teach children about gravity, flight and motion through rhyme and verse.
“The inspiration to write this book came from a dream about running really fast to go to the beach,” said Dr Lal.
“The thought then struck me – if I wanted to run fast enough to launch myself into orbit at the Earth’s surface, how fast would I need to go?”
The answer to that question, according to Dr Lal, is “a crazy 28,440 km per hour”.
“No animal on Earth can run that fast, but what if they could?,” he says.
“Emus can’t fly so that gave me the idea of Henry getting help from friends to solve that very real problem.”
Dr Lal teamed up with illustrator Adam Carruthers to bring Henry and his friends to life on the page, after a Kickstarter campaign for the project in 2019.
The book was officially launched on the weekend in Melbourne by science journalist Robyn Williams AO. The launch coincided with the new moon and the best night to see the ‘Emu’ constellation, which comprises dark parts of the sky rather than stars.
Henry the Flying Emu is published by Little Steps Publishing.