As  promised, here are the rest of Marcus’ fascinating answers to my innocent questions:

Is it frustrating writing about something like physics when you know it can all change at any time? I am especially interested in how you deal with the unreliability of facts. For example, I was taught and tested on the names of the planets. Pluto used to be one of them, but  now…..
 Not at all. All science is provisional. It’s not set in stone. It is merely the best picture we have of reality at this moment. When something doesn’t fit, it doesn’t mean the whole edifice is invalid. It just means we need a new idea, a better theory. It’s a cause for celebration. As John Wheeler, who coined the term “black hole”, said: “No progress without paradox.” The great paradox at the beginning of the 20th century – the fact that our theory of matter and our theory of light predicted contradictory things in the realm of the atom – spawned “quantum theory”, a change in our worldview so profound that even today we have not got totally to grips with it. At the moment, we have the paradox of the “dark energy”, the invisible stuff that fills all of space and is speeding up the expansion of the Universe. Quantum theory predicts an energy for this stuff which is 1 followed by 120 zeroes greater than the astronomers have observed. This is the biggest discrepancy between a prediction and an observation in the history of science. It’s safe to say something is badly wrong. Some big idea is missing. It could be that in the next few years there will be a revolution in out picture of reality as profound as the quantum revolution. I think that makes for exciting times. Your Pluto example is a good one (BTW, did you know it was named by an 11-year-old school Oxford girl called Venetia Burney?). We thought it was the ninth planet. But, then, we started discovering lots of other icy bodies orbiting out by Pluto, at least one of which is bigger than Pluto. Now I think we’ve found at least a 100 – with names like Easter Bunny, Buffy and Santa (with its moons, Rudolph and Blixen)! – and we think there could be more than 10,000 in a belt of rubble long predicted to exist. So we have had to revise our view of Pluto in the light of this new evidence. It’s not a planet in its own right like the Earth and Jupiter.  It’s one among many similar objects orbiting in the outer Solar System.  I don’t have a problem with our scientific picture changing all the time because change is a central characteristic of our scientific view, which is constantly having to be modified in the light of new experimental and observational evidence, as we grope for a better, more satisfactory picture. I love it that we’re constantly learning more, expanding our horizons. Rather than finding it frustrating, I find it exciting. And, of course, it keeps science writers like me in work!
Are you interested in all science or just physics? What’s your background and where did this interest come from?
I’m interested in science but I’m also interested in lots of other things too. One of my heroes is Geoffrey Beattie. He has been the “Big Brother” psychologist on all 10 series. But he is also head of the psychology department of the University of Manchester. And he has written some books, including “Protestant Boy”, and his brilliant novel, “The Corner Boys”. Beattie’s interests span a wide spectrum. And so do mine. I don’t know if you’ve read my children’s book, “Felicity Frobisher and the Three-Headed Aldebaran Dust Devil”? It was an opportunity for me to be just very, very silly.
   I have no idea where my interest in science comes from! Both my parents left school at 15 and there is no one else in the family with an interest in science. But my dad did buy me a book on astronomy when I was eight, which left a big impression on me, and which I still have. I don’t know what made him buy that book. I wish I could ask him. That’s the trouble, when people are dead; you think of all the things you should have asked them when they were alive. I do actually speculate about my dad and his incredible belief in me in the Foreword to Afterglow of Creation. One occasion, he insisted I should have won a particular book prize even though I had not entered a book for the prize – in fact, hadn’t even written a book that year! The Foreword, which I wrote on the 10th anniversary of my dad’s death, meant a lot to me, so I was very pleased when Scott Pack, former chief buyer of Waterstone’s, said: ‘The wonderful intro alone is worth the cover price.”
      But, to get back to your question, I liked English and science at school, but had to choose, which is a great shame. So I chose science. I got as far as being a radio astronomer at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena before giving it up and trying to be a journalist. I have been working my way back to writing ever since.
You are a master at using metaphors from everyday life to explain difficult concepts. To me, that is very much what we poets try to do. Do you write poetry? Dare I ask where these metaphorical connections come from, or do they just pop into your head?
 Thank you. That’s really kind of you. As I said in answer to one of your earlier questions, I think visually, so I am always looking for the everyday metaphor to illuminate a difficult concept. Actually, of course, mathematics, the language of physics, is a metaphor. Physicists write down a mathematical equation – say, describing how a ball arcs through the air – and miraculously it mimics reality. You were asking me about the history of scientific thought before. Well, imagine how amazed people were when Newton wrote down mathematical formulae that were exact metaphors for the motion of the planets around the Sun or cannon balls through the air. Newton almost certainly thought God was a mathematician. Even now physicists can’t quite believe that nature dances to the tune of the equations they scrawl on blackboards. Why is mathematics a perfect metaphor for physical reality? That’s one of the deepest, unanswered questions in science. But maths is beyond most people’s everyday experience so I’m always looking for simpler metaphors that are closer to my readers’ experience. And, yes, the metaphors just pop into my head – although I wouldn’t like to take credit for all of them. Once again, it’s simply the way I try to understand things.
      I don’t write poetry but I very much enjoy reading it. Poetry is one of the best places to find titles. The title of my book The Universe Next Door comes from an e. e. cummings poem. “Listen, there’s a hell of a good universe next door: let’s go!” Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You comes from a line in an Adrian Mitchell poem: “Mashed potatoes cannot hurt you darling.” Despite my best efforts, my publisher would not let me use the “darling”. But I live in hope that I may be able to slip it in in a future edition! 
I’ve got a million of them…
Only 999,995 questions left for me to answer, then!

but I think I better stop there.

Which I did. I will go on to say, though, that I do agree with Scott Pack when he said Marcus’ beautiful introduc
tion about his father is worth the price of the whole thing. It’s the introduction that made me so excited about the prospect of entering into a dialogue with Marcus. If you read Afterglow of Creation, I believe you’ll feel like you’ve entered into the dialogue, too.