Meet the author of Henry the flying Emu

A new children’s book about gravity has been published by award-winning science communicator, physicist and TV presenter Dr Niraj (Nij) Lal. Henry the Flying Emu tells the story about an emu – a flightless bird – running fast enough to ‘fly’ into Earth’s orbit.

Launched by veteran science journalist Robyn Williams AO in Melbourne last month, the book follows Henry’s quest to fly, with the aim of teaching children about the science of gravity.

“The inspiration to write this book came from a dream about running really fast to go to the beach,” said Nij, a Visiting Fellow with the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science.

“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 is a crazy 28,440 km per hour.”

No animal on Earth can run that fast, but what if they could?

“Emus can’t fly so that gave me the idea of Henry getting help from friends to solve that very real problem,” said Nij, who collaborated with illustrator Adam Carruthers to bring Henry and other characters to life.

Learn more about Nij at Visit the book’s website at to download educational material on gravity, flight and motion.