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The 50 Most Extreme Places in Our Solar System
David Baker
Harvard University Press, 2010
Baker & Ratcliff, experts in planetary science, feel there is no better way to showcase the grandeur, the weirdness, or the awe-inspiring aspects of science than through an exploration of extreme places and events right here in our own Solar System. Their goal is to bring that “wow” factor to the reader and to show how that awe inspires the continual quest for knowledge. The book emphasizes science as a dynamic process of exploration and discovery. It highlights exciting developments and features mind-blowing images of NASA's most recent observations. Throughout the book, extreme places are contrasted with those on Earth to connect the reader with more familiar settings. Each individual section strives to answer the most important scientific question of all – “Why?” In many cases, this question remains unsettled due to lack of evidence or newly emerging discoveries. Baker and Ratcliff present leading hypotheses for these unresolved mysteries and offer some provocative possibilities.

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924 Elementary Problems and Answers in Solar System Astronomy
Van Allen, James A.
University of Iowa Press, 1993

This challenging collection of problems is organized into seven carefully crafted, thoughtful chapters on the Sun and the nature of the solar system; the motion of the planets; the Sun, Earth, and Moon; the sky as observed from the rotating, revolving Earth; other planets, their satellites, their rings; asteroids, comets, and meteoroids; and the radiations and telescopes. From question 1, "List characteristics of the solar system that are major clues in devising a hypothesis of its origin and evolution," through question 924, "Give a brief list of the contributions of radio and radar technologies in lunar and planetary astronomy," the problems range in difficulty from ones requiring only simple knowledge to ones requiring significant understanding and analysis. Many of the answers, in turn, illuminate the questions by providing basic explanations of the concepts involved.

Pioneer 10 and 11 are now halfway to the edge of the solar system. All beginning and advanced students of astronomy and their instructors as well as all dedicated amateurs can join James Van Allen on this journey by exploring the questions and answers in this stimulating book.


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American Astronomical Society Centennial Issue of the Astrophysical Journal
Edited by Helmut A. Abt
University of Chicago Press, 2000
Selected by 50 notable astronomers from the major sub-fields of the discipline, the articles assembled in this special AAS Centennial collection are accompanied by commentary that provides the scientific-historical context essential to comprehending each article's original impact. Many commentators were contemporaries of the original authors and provide first-person accounts of papers published in the journals—and the earliest reactions they evoked. Arranged in chronological order of publication, these classic papers include works by Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, George E. Hale, Fred Hoyle, Edwin Hubble, A.A. Michelson, Henry Norris Russell, Arthur Achuster, Harlow Shapley, and others. Together the articles and commentaries provide a historical window into twentieth-century astronomy and how the results were achieved.

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Aurora Watcher's Handbook
Neil Davis
University of Alaska Press, 1992
Neil Davis's decades-long involvement with the aurora extends beyond study and research. He has also been explaining this magnificent phenomenon to diverse audiences, sharing the knowledge with his graduate students and his grandchildren, with his fellow scientists through professional publications, and with the general public through newspaper columns. His ability to communicate both the facts and the wonder of the northern lights shows clearly in this book.

Starting at a basic level, the handbook begins appropriately with matters of immediate concern to someone who hopes to see an auroral display: what causes the aurora, where and when it is most often seen, and how best to capture it on film. Later sections provide a thorough and clear review of all aspects of auroral science, including the mysterious realm of auroral sound. In a concise and readable fashion, the handbook covers what is known about auroras, encompassing overviews of the northern Natives' legends and myths and the several theories geophysicists have produced to explain why auroras behave as they do. The Aurora Watcher's Handbook includes numerous illustrations, ranging from cartoons to color plates and drawings. 


"I am confident [this book] will become the aurora watcher's bible for many years to come." (Sky & Telescope)

"This is participatory science at its best!" (Midwest Book Review)

"A delightful book, highly recommended." (CHOICE )

"A complete course for the layman with an interest in the northern lights." (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

"[Davis] has written the book in a smooth, how-it-works style, and his presentation is remarkably clear. . . . [He] expended much effort on this book, forming from his lifetime of knowledge a coherent and comprehensible picture of the aurora for the non-specialist." (ARCTIC)

"For a comprehensive guide to the northern lights, read Neil Davis's The Aurora." (Small Press Magazine)


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Black Holes and Relativistic Stars
Edited by Robert M. Wald
University of Chicago Press, 1998
A comprehensive summary of progress made during the past decade on the theory of black holes and relativistic stars, this collection includes discussion of structure and oscillations of relativistic stars, the use of gravitational radiation detectors, observational evidence for black holes, cosmic censorship, numerical work related to black hole collisions, the internal structure of black holes, black hole thermodynamics, information loss and other issues related to the quantum properties of black holes, and recent developments in the theory of black holes in the context of string theory.

Volume contributors: Valeria Ferrari, John L. Friedman, James B. Hartle, Stephen W. Hawking, Gary T. Horowitz, Werner Israel, Roger Penrose, Martin J. Rees, Rafael D. Sorkin, Saul A. Teukolsky, Kip S. Thorne, and Robert M. Wald.

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Cauldrons in the Cosmos
Nuclear Astrophysics
Claus E. Rolfs and William S. Rodney
University of Chicago Press, 1988
Nuclear astrophysics is, in essence, a science that attempts to understand and explain the physical universe beyond the Earth by studying its smallest particles. Cauldrons in the Cosmos, by Claus E. Rolfs and William S. Rodney, serves as a basic introduction to these endeavors. From the major discoveries in the field to a discussion of the makeup of stars to an explanation of standard lab techniques, this text provides students and scientists alike a thorough and fascinating survey of the accomplishments, goals, and methods of nuclear astrophysics. A classic in its field, Cauldrons in the Cosmos will surely remain an important reference in nuclear astrophysics for years to come.

"One could not wish for a better account of the current state of knowledge (and uncertainty) about nuclear reactions in stars."—B. E. J. Pagel, Nature

"Written in an informal style that those uninitiated into the jargon of nuclear astrophysics and astronomy will find readable and illuminating. . . . A useful and long-awaited introduction to nuclear astrophysics."—G. J. Mathews, Science


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An Illustrated History of Astronomy and Cosmology
John North
University of Chicago Press, 2008
For millennia humans have studied the skies to help them grow crops, navigate the seas, and earn favor from their gods. We still look to the stars today for answers to fundamental questions: How did the universe begin? Will it end, and if so, how? What is our place within it? John North has been examining such questions for decades. In Cosmos, he offers a sweeping historical survey of the two sciences that help define our place in the universe: astronomy and cosmology.
            Organizing his history chronologically, North begins by examining Paleolithic cave drawings that clearly chart the phases of the moon. He then investigates scientific practices in the early civilizations of Egypt, Greece, China, and the Americas (among others), whose inhabitants developed sophisticated methods to record the movements of the planets and stars. Trade routes and religious movements, North notes, brought these ancient styles of scientific thinking to the attention of later astronomers, whose own theories—such as Copernicus’ planetary theory—led to the Scientific Revolution.
            The work of master astronomers, including Ptolemy, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton, is described in detail, as are modern-day developments in astrophysics, such as the advent of radio astronomy, the brilliant innovations of Einstein, and the many recent discoveries brought about with the help of the Hubble telescope. This new edition brings North’s seminal book right up to the present day, as North takes a closer look at last year’s reclassification of Pluto as a “dwarf” planet and gives a thorough overview of current research.
            With more than two hundred illustrations and a comprehensive bibliography, Cosmos is the definitive history of astronomy and cosmology. It is sure to find an eager audience among historians of science and astronomers alike.

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Cracking the Einstein Code
Relativity and the Birth of Black Hole Physics
Fulvio Melia
University of Chicago Press, 2009

Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity describes the effect of gravitation on the shape of space and the flow of time. But for more than four decades after its publication, the theory remained largely a curiosity for scientists; however accurate it seemed, Einstein’s mathematical code—represented by six interlocking equations—was one of the most difficult to crack in all of science. That is, until a twenty-nine-year-old Cambridge graduate solved the great riddle in 1963. Roy Kerr’s solution emerged coincidentally with the discovery of black holes that same year and provided fertile testing ground—at long last—for general relativity. Today, scientists routinely cite the Kerr solution, but even among specialists, few know the story of how Kerr cracked Einstein’s code.

Fulvio Melia here offers an eyewitness account of the events leading up to Kerr’s great discovery. Cracking the Einstein Code vividly describes how luminaries such as Karl Schwarzschild, David Hilbert, and Emmy Noether set the stage for the Kerr solution; how Kerr came to make his breakthrough; and how scientists such as Roger Penrose, Kip Thorne, and Stephen Hawking used the accomplishment to refine and expand modern astronomy and physics. Today more than 300 million supermassive black holes are suspected of anchoring their host galaxies across the cosmos, and the Kerr solution is what astronomers and astrophysicists use to describe much of their behavior.

By unmasking the history behind the search for a real world solution to Einstein’s field equations, Melia offers a first-hand account of an important but untold story. Sometimes dramatic, often exhilarating, but always attuned to the human element, Cracking the Einstein Code is ultimately a showcase of how important science gets done.


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Darkness at Night
A Riddle of the Universe
Edward Harrison
Harvard University Press, 1987

Why is the sky dark at night?

The answer to this ancient and celebrated riddle, says Edward Harrison, seems relatively simple: the sun has set and is now shining on the other side of the earth. But suppose we were space travelers and far from any star. Out in the depths of space the heavens would be dark, even darker than the sky seen from the earth on cloudless and moonless nights. For more than four centuries, astronomers and other investigators have pondered the enigma of a dark sky and proposed many provocative but incorrect answers. Darkness at Night eloquently describes the misleading trails of inquiry and strange ideas that have abounded in the quest for a solution.

In tracing this story of discovery—one of the most intriguing in the history of science—astronomer and physicist Harrison explores the concept of infinite space, the structure and age of the universe, the nature of light, and other subjects that once were so perplexing. He introduces a range of stellar intellects, from Democritus in the ancient world to Digges in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, followed by Kepler, Newton, Halley, Chéseaux, Olbers, Poe, Kelvin, and Bondi.

Harrison’s style is engaging, incisive yet poetic, and his strong grasp of history—from the Greeks to the twentieth century—adds perspective, depth, and scope to the narrative. Richly illustrated and annotated, this book will delight and enlighten both the casual reader and the serious inquirer.


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The Elephant in the Universe
Our Hundred-Year Search for Dark Matter
Govert Schilling
Harvard University Press, 2022

A Seminary Co-op Notable Book
A BBC Sky at Night Best Book

“An impressively comprehensive bird’s-eye view of a research topic that is both many decades established and yet still at the very cutting edge of astronomy and physics.”
—Katie Mack, Wall Street Journal

“Schilling has craftily combined his lucid and accessible descriptions of science with the personal story of those unlocking the finer details of the missing mass mystery. The result is enthralling…A captivating scientific thriller.”
BBC Sky at Night

“Fascinating…A thorough and sometimes troubling account of the hunt for dark matter…You will come away with a very good understanding of how the universe works. Well, our universe, anyway.”
—Michael Brooks, New Scientist

When you train a telescope on outer space, you can see luminous galaxies, nebulae, stars, and planets. But if you add all that together, it constitutes only 15 percent of the matter in the universe. Despite decades of research, the nature of the remaining 85 percent is unknown. We call it dark matter.

Physicists have devised huge, sensitive instruments to search for dark matter, which may be unlike anything else in the cosmos—some unknown elementary particle. Yet so far dark matter has escaped every experiment. It is so elusive that some scientists are beginning to suspect there might be something wrong with our theories about gravity or with the current paradigms of cosmology. Govert Schilling interviews believers and heretics and paints a colorful picture of the history and current status of dark matter research. The Elephant in the Universe is a vivid tale of scientists puzzling their way toward the true nature of the universe.


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Hidden Worlds and the Quest for Extraterrestrial Life
Donald Goldsmith
Harvard University Press, 2018

“How do alien, faraway worlds reveal their existence to Earthlings? Let Donald Goldsmith count the ways. As an experienced astronomer and a gifted storyteller, he is the perfect person to chronicle the ongoing hunt for planets of other stars.” —Dava Sobel

Astronomers have recently discovered thousands of planets that orbit stars throughout our Milky Way galaxy. With his characteristic wit and style, Donald Goldsmith presents the science of exoplanets and the search for extraterrestrial life in a way that Earthlings with little background in astronomy or astrophysics can understand and enjoy.

Much of what has captured the imagination of planetary scientists and the public is the unexpected strangeness of these distant worlds, which bear little resemblance to the planets in our solar system. The sizes, masses, and orbits of exoplanets detected so far raise new questions about how planets form and evolve. Still more tantalizing are the efforts to determine which exoplanets might support life. Astronomers are steadily improving their means of examining these planets’ atmospheres and surfaces, with the help of advanced spacecraft sent into orbits a million miles from Earth. These instruments will provide better observations of planetary systems in orbit around the dim red stars that throng the Milky Way. Previously spurned as too faint to support life, these cool stars turn out to possess myriad planets nestled close enough to maintain Earthlike temperatures.

The quest to find other worlds brims with possibility. Exoplanets shows how astronomers have broadened our planetary horizons, and suggests what may come next, including the ultimate discovery: life beyond our home planet.


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A Final Story
Science, Myth, and Beginnings
Nasser Zakariya
University of Chicago Press, 2017
Popular science readers embrace epics—the sweeping stories that claim to tell the history of all the universe, from the cosmological to the biological to the social. And the appeal is understandable: in writing these works, authors such as E. O. Wilson or Steven Weinberg deliberately seek to move beyond particular disciplines, to create a compelling story weaving together natural historical events, scientific endeavor, human discovery, and contemporary existential concerns.

In A Final Story, Nasser Zakariya delves into the origins and ambitions of these scientific epics, from the nineteenth century to the present, to see what they reveal about the relationship between storytelling, integrated scientific knowledge, and historical method. While seeking to transcend the perspectives of their own eras, the authors of the epics and the debates surrounding them are embedded in political and social struggles of their own times, struggles to which the epics in turn respond. In attempts to narrate an approach to a final, true account, these synthesizing efforts shape and orient scientific developments old and new. By looking closely at the composition of science epics and the related genres developed along with them, we are able to view the historical narrative of science as a form of knowledge itself, one that discloses much about the development of our understanding of and relationship to science over time.

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Foundations of High-Energy Astrophysics
Mario Vietri
University of Chicago Press, 2008
Written by one of today’s most highly respected astrophysicists, Foundations of High-Energy Astrophysics is an introduction to the mathematical and physical techniques used in the study of high-energy astrophysics. Here, Mario Vietri approaches the basics of high-energy astrophysics with an emphasis on underlying physical processes as opposed to a more mathematical approach. Alongside more traditional topics, Vietri presents new subjects increasingly considered crucial to understanding high-energy astrophysical sources, including the electrodynamics of cosmic sources, new developments in the theory of standard accretion disks, and the physics of coronae, thick disks, and accretion onto magnetized objects.

The most thorough and engaging survey of high-energy astrophysics available today, Foundations of High-Energy Astrophysics introduces the main physical processes relevant to the field in a rigorous yet accessible way, while paying careful attention to observational issues. Vietri’s book will quickly become a classic text for students and active researchers in astronomy and astrophysics. Those in adjoining fields will also find it a valuable addition to their personal libraries.

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From White Dwarfs to Black Holes
The Legacy of S. Chandrasekhar
Edited by G. Srinivasan
University of Chicago Press, 1999
From White Dwarfs to Black Holes chronicles the extraordinarily productive scientific career of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, one of the twentieth century's most distinguished astrophysicists. Among Chandrasekhar's many discoveries were the critical mass that makes a star too massive to become a white dwarf and the mathematical theory of black holes. In 1983 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physics for these and other achievements.

Over the course of more than six decades of active research Chandrasekhar investigated a dizzying array of subjects. G. Srinivasan notes in the preface to this book that "the range of Chandra's contributions is so vast that no one person in the physics or astronomy community can undertake the task of commenting on his achievements." Thus, in this collection, ten eminent scientists evaluate Chandrasekhar's contributions to their own fields of specialization. Donald E. Osterbrock closes the volume with a historical discussion of Chandrasekhar's interactions with graduate students during his more than quarter century at Yerkes Observatory.

Contributors are James Binney, John L. Friedman, Norman R. Lebovitz, Donald E. Osterbrock, E. N. Parker, Roger Penrose, A. R. P. Rau, George B. Rybicki, E. E. Salpeter, Bernard F. Schutz, and G. Srinivasan.


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Galaxies and the Cosmic Frontier
William H. Waller and Paul W. Hodge
Harvard University Press, 2003

Orienting us with an insider’s tour of our cosmic home, the Milky Way, William Waller and Paul Hodge then take us on a spectacular journey, inviting us to probe the exquisite structures and dynamics of the giant spiral and elliptical galaxies, to witness colliding and erupting galaxies, and to pay our respects to the most powerful galaxies of all—the quasars. A basic guide to the latest news from the cosmic frontier—about the black holes in the centers of galaxies, about the way in which some galaxies cannibalize each other, about the vast distances between galaxies, and about the remarkable new evidence regarding dark energy and the cosmic expansion—this book gives us a firm foundation for exploring the more speculative fringes of our current understanding.

This is a heavily revised and completely updated version of Hodge’s Galaxies, which won an Association of American Publishers PROSE Award for Best Science Book of the Year in 1986.


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Gravity’s Century
From Einstein’s Eclipse to Images of Black Holes
Ron Cowen
Harvard University Press, 2019

A sweeping account of the century of experimentation that confirmed Einstein’s general theory of relativity, bringing to life the science and scientists at the origins of relativity, the development of radio telescopes, the discovery of black holes and quasars, and the still unresolved place of gravity in quantum theory.

Albert Einstein did nothing of note on May 29, 1919, yet that is when he became immortal. On that day, astronomer Arthur Eddington and his team observed a solar eclipse and found something extraordinary: gravity bends light, just as Einstein predicted. The finding confirmed the theory of general relativity, fundamentally changing our understanding of space and time.

A century later, another group of astronomers is performing a similar experiment on a much larger scale. The Event Horizon Telescope, a globe-spanning array of radio dishes, is examining space surrounding Sagittarius A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. As Ron Cowen recounts, the foremost goal of the experiment is to determine whether Einstein was right on the details. Gravity lies at the heart of what we don’t know about quantum mechanics, but tantalizing possibilities for deeper insight are offered by black holes. By observing starlight wrapping around Sagittarius A*, the telescope will not only provide the first direct view of an event horizon—a black hole’s point of no return—but will also enable scientists to test Einstein’s theory under the most extreme conditions.

Gravity’s Century shows how we got from the pivotal observations of the 1919 eclipse to the Event Horizon Telescope, and what is at stake today. Breaking down the physics in clear and approachable language, Cowen makes vivid how the quest to understand gravity is really the quest to comprehend the universe.


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Gravity's Ghost and Big Dog
Scientific Discovery and Social Analysis in the Twenty-First Century
Harry Collins
University of Chicago Press, 2013
Gravity’s Ghost and Big Dog brings to life science’s efforts to detect cosmic gravitational waves. These ripples in space-time are predicted by general relativity, and their discovery will not only demonstrate the truth of Einstein’s theories but also transform astronomy. Although no gravitational wave has ever been directly detected, the previous five years have been an especially exciting period in the field. Here sociologist Harry Collins offers readers an unprecedented view of gravitational wave research and explains what it means for an analyst to do work of this kind.
Collins was embedded with the gravitational wave physicists as they confronted two possible discoveries—“Big Dog,” fully analyzed in this volume for the first time, and the “Equinox Event,” which was first chronicled by Collins in Gravity’s Ghost. Collins records the agonizing arguments that arose as the scientists worked out what they had seen and how to present it to the world, along the way demonstrating how even the most statistical of sciences rest on social and philosophical choices. Gravity’s Ghost and Big Dog draws on nearly fifty years of fieldwork observing scientists at the American Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory and elsewhere around the world to offer an inspired commentary on the place of science in society today.


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Gravity's Ghost
Scientific Discovery in the Twenty-first Century
Harry Collins
University of Chicago Press, 2010

In theory, at least, gravitational waves do exist. We are constantly bathed in gravitational radiation, which is generated when stars explode or collide and a portion of their mass becomes energy that ripples out like a disturbance on the surface of a serene pond. But unfortunately no gravitational wave has ever been directly detected even though the search has lasted more than forty years.

As the leading chronicler of the search for gravitational waves, Harry Collins has been right there with the scientists since the start. The result of his unprecedented access to the front lines of physical science is Gravity’s Ghost, a thrilling chronicle of high-stakes research and cutting-edge discovery. Here, Collins reveals that scientific discovery and nondiscovery can turn on scientific traditions and rivalries, that ideal statistical analysis rests on impossible procedures and unattainable knowledge, and that fact in one place is baseless assumption in another. He also argues that sciences like gravitational wave detection, in exemplifying how the intractable is to be handled, can offer scientific leadership a moral beacon for the twenty-first century. In the end, Gravity’s Ghost shows that discoveries are the denouements of dramatic scientific mysteries.


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Gravity's Shadow
The Search for Gravitational Waves
Harry Collins
University of Chicago Press, 2004
According to the theory of relativity, we are constantly bathed in gravitational radiation. When stars explode or collide, a portion of their mass becomes energy that disturbs the very fabric of the space-time continuum like ripples in a pond. But proving the existence of these waves has been difficult; the cosmic shudders are so weak that only the most sensitive instruments can be expected to observe them directly. Fifteen times during the last thirty years scientists have claimed to have detected gravitational waves, but so far none of those claims have survived the scrutiny of the scientific community. Gravity's Shadow chronicles the forty-year effort to detect gravitational waves, while exploring the meaning of scientific knowledge and the nature of expertise.

Gravitational wave detection involves recording the collisions, explosions, and trembling of stars and black holes by evaluating the smallest changes ever measured. Because gravitational waves are so faint, their detection will come not in an exuberant moment of discovery but through a chain of inference; for forty years, scientists have debated whether there is anything to detect and whether it has yet been detected. Sociologist Harry Collins has been tracking the progress of this research since 1972, interviewing key scientists and delineating the social process of the science of gravitational waves.

Engagingly written and authoritatively comprehensive, Gravity's Shadow explores the people, institutions, and government organizations involved in the detection of gravitational waves. This sociological history will prove essential not only to sociologists and historians of science but to scientists themselves.

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High-Energy Radiation from Magnetized Neutron Stars
Peter Mészáros
University of Chicago Press, 1992
Neutron stars, the most extreme state of matter yet confirmed, are responsible for much of the high-energy radiation detected in the universe. Mèszàros provides a general overview of the physics of magnetized neutron stars, discusses in detail the radiation processes and transport properties relevant to the production and propagation of high-energy radiation in the outer layers of these objects, and reviews the observational properties and theoretical models of various types of neutron star sources.

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Horizons of Cosmology
Joseph Silk
Templeton Press, 2009
Horizons of Cosmology: Exploring Worlds Seen and Unseen is the fourth title published in the Templeton Science and Religion Series, in which scientists from a wide range of fields distill their experience and knowledge into brief tours of their respective specialties. In this volume, highly esteemed astrophysicist Joseph Silk explores the vast mysteries and speculations of the field of cosmology in a way that balances an accessible style for the general reader and enough technical detail for advanced students and professionals.
Indeed, while the physical laws and origins of the universe can be endlessly complex, even Einstein once mused that they could be explained simply enough to be grasped by nonspecialists. To that end Silk begins by introducing the basic story of the major discoveries in cosmology over the past century—wherein we learned that we live in an expanding universe populated with galaxies and stars. The middle chapters examine a number of contemporary puzzles such as dark matter and dark energy. The last third of the book looks at the human side of cosmology and moves to the more philosophical frontiers of the field, such as concepts of multiverses and time travel—areas of exploration where some crossover into speculative territory becomes unavoidable.
In the past century alone, our understanding of the universe has expanded exponentially, and it will be fascinating to see what discoveries the next hundred years hold. Few books will provide such a thorough understanding of where we have been and what might lie ahead as Horizons of Cosmology.

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Inner Space/Outer Space
Edited by Edward Kolb, Michael Turner, Keith Olive, David Seckel, and David Lind
University of Chicago Press, 1986
Inner Space/Outer Space brings together much of the exciting work contributing to a new synthesis of modern physics. Particle physicists, concerned with the "inner space" of the atom, are making discoveries that their colleagues in astrophysics, studying outer space, can use to develop and test hypotheses about the events that occurred in the microseconds after the Big Bang and that shaped the universe as we know it today.

The papers collected here, from scores of scientists, constitute the proceedings of the first major international conference on research at the interface of particle physics and astrophysics, held in May 1984. The editors have written introductions to each major section that draw out the central themes and elaborate on the primary implications of the papers that follow.

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An Introduction to Nuclear Astrophysics
Richard N. Boyd
University of Chicago Press, 2008
Nuclear astrophysics is the study of how all naturally occurring elements formed and evolved into our present universe via nuclear processes, beginning with the Big Bang and continuing today in astrophysical objects such as stars, x-ray bursters, and supernovae. Emerging from traditional studies in astrophysics and particle research, this cross-disciplinary field touches upon astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology, and particle physics.

In An Introduction to Nuclear Astrophysics, author Richard Boyd includes basic nomenclature and information so that students from astronomy or physics can quickly orient themselves in the material. Subsequent chapters describe earthbound and space born instruments operating in service to nuclear astrophysics worldwide; background topics such as nuclear and neutrino physics, scattering formalism, and thermonuclear reaction rates; and information on galactic chemical evolution, solar nucleosynthesis, s- and r-processes, and gamma-ray bursts. Each chapter includes problem sets  against which students may test their knowledge before moving ahead, and the author has included copious references intended to guide students to further study.

An Introduction to Nuclear Astrophysics
is an essential textbook for undergraduate and graduate students in astronomy and astrophysics.  It is also an invaluable overview of the subject for researchers in nuclear astrophysics and related fields.  

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James Van Allen
The First Eight Billion Miles
Abigail Foerstner
University of Iowa Press, 2009
Astrophysicist and space pioneer James Van Allen (1914–2006), for whom the Van Allen radiation belts were named, was among the principal scientific investigators for twenty-four space missions, including Explorer I in 1958, the first successful U.S. satellite; Mariner 2’s 1962 flyby of Venus, the first successful mission to another planet; and the 1970s Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 missions that surveyed Jupiter and Saturn. Although he retired as a University of Iowa professor of physics and astronomy in 1985, he remained an active researcher, using his campus office to monitor data from Pioneer 10—on course to reach the edge of the solar system when its signal was lost in 2003—until a short time before his death at the age of ninety-one. Now Abigail Foerstner blends space science drama, military agendas, cold war politics, and the events of Van Allen’s lengthy career to create the first biography of this highly influential physicist.

Drawing on Van Allen’s correspondence and publications, years of interviews with him as well as with more than a hundred other people, and declassified documents from such archives as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Kennedy Space Center, and the Applied Physics Laboratory, Foerstner describes Van Allen’s life from his Iowa childhood to his first experiments at White Sands to the years of Explorer I until his death in 2006.

Often called the father of space science, James Van Allen led the way to mapping a new solar system based on the solar wind, massive solar storms, and cosmic rays. Pioneer 10 alone sent him more than thirty years of readings that helped push our recognition of the boundary of the solar system billions of miles past Pluto. Abigail Foerstner’s compelling biography charts the eventful life and time of this trailblazing physicist.

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Kew Observatory and the Evolution of Victorian Science, 1840–1910
Lee T. Macdonald
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018
Kew Observatory was originally built in 1769 for King George III, a keen amateur astronomer, so that he could observe the transit of Venus. By the mid-nineteenth century, it was a world-leading center for four major sciences: geomagnetism, meteorology, solar physics, and standardization. Long before government cutbacks forced its closure in 1980, the observatory was run by both major bodies responsible for the management of science in Britain: first the British Association for the Advancement of Science, and then, from 1871, the Royal Society. Kew Observatory influenced and was influenced by many of the larger developments in the physical sciences during the second half of the nineteenth century, while many of the major figures involved were in some way affiliated with Kew.

Lee T. Macdonald explores the extraordinary story of this important scientific institution as it rose to prominence during the Victorian era. His book offers fresh new insights into key historical issues in nineteenth-century science: the patronage of science; relations between science and government; the evolution of the observatory sciences; and the origins and early years of the National Physical Laboratory, once an extension of Kew and now the largest applied physics organization in the United Kingdom.

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Life in the Cosmos
From Biosignatures to Technosignatures
Manasvi Lingam and Avi Loeb
Harvard University Press, 2021

A rigorous and scientific analysis of the myriad possibilities of life beyond our planet.

“Are we alone in the universe?” This tantalizing question has captivated humanity over millennia, but seldom has it been approached rigorously. Today the search for signatures of extraterrestrial life and intelligence has become a rapidly advancing scientific endeavor. Missions to Mars, Europa, and Titan seek evidence of life. Laboratory experiments have made great strides in creating synthetic life, deepening our understanding of conditions that give rise to living entities. And on the horizon are sophisticated telescopes to detect and characterize exoplanets most likely to harbor life.

Life in the Cosmos offers a thorough overview of the burgeoning field of astrobiology, including the salient methods and paradigms involved in the search for extraterrestrial life and intelligence. Manasvi Lingam and Avi Loeb tackle three areas of interest in hunting for life “out there”: first, the pathways by which life originates and evolves; second, planetary and stellar factors that affect the habitability of worlds, with an eye on the biomarkers that may reveal the presence of microbial life; and finally, the detection of technological signals that could be indicative of intelligence. Drawing on empirical data from observations and experiments, as well as the latest theoretical and computational developments, the authors make a compelling scientific case for the search for life beyond what we can currently see.

Meticulous and comprehensive, Life in the Cosmos is a master class from top researchers in astrobiology, suggesting that the answer to our age-old question is closer than ever before.


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A Little Book about the Big Bang
Tony Rothman
Harvard University Press, 2022

A concise introduction to the greatest questions of modern cosmology.

What came before the big bang? How will the universe evolve into the future? Will there be a big crunch? Questions like these have no definitive answers, but there are many contending theories. In A Little Book about the Big Bang, physicist and writer Tony Rothman guides expert and uninitiated readers alike through the most compelling mysteries surrounding the nature and origin of the universe.

Cosmologists are busy these days, actively researching dark energy, dark matter, and quantum gravity, all at the foundation of our understanding of space, time, and the laws governing the universe. Enlisting thoughtful analogies and a step-by-step approach, Rothman breaks down what is known and what isn’t and details the pioneering experimental techniques scientists are bringing to bear on riddles of nature at once utterly basic and stunningly complex. In Rothman’s telling, modern cosmology proves to be an intricate web of theoretical predictions confirmed by exquisitely precise observations, all of which make the theory of the big bang one of the most solid edifices ever constructed in the history of science. At the same time, Rothman is careful to distinguish established physics from speculation, and in doing so highlights current controversies and avenues of future exploration.

The idea of the big bang is now almost a century old, yet with each new year comes a fresh enigma. That is scientific progress in a nutshell: every groundbreaking discovery, every creative explanation, provokes new and more fundamental questions. Rothman takes stock of what we have learned and encourages readers to ponder the mysteries to come.


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Metaphysical Experiments
Physics and the Invention of the Universe
Bjørn Ekeberg
University of Minnesota Press, 2019

An engaging critique of the science and metaphysics behind our understanding of the universe


The James Webb Space Telescope, when launched in 2021, will be the premier orbital observatory, capable of studying every phase of the history of the universe, from the afterglow of the Big Bang to the formation of our solar system. Examining the theoretical basis for key experiments that have made this latest venture in astrophysics possible, Bjørn Ekeberg reveals that scientific cosmology actually operates in a twilight zone between the physical and metaphysical. 

Metaphysical Experiments explains how our current framework for understanding the universe, the Big Bang theory, is more determined by a deep faith in mathematical universality than empirical observation. Ekeberg draws on philosophical insights by Spinoza, Bergson, Heidegger, and Arendt; on the critical perspectives of Latour, Stengers, and Serres; and on cutting-edge physics research at the Large Hadron Collider, to show how the universe of modern physics was invented to reconcile a Christian metaphysical premise with a claim to the theoretical unification of nature.

By focusing on the nonmathematical assumptions underlying some of the most significant events in modern science, Metaphysical Experiments offers a critical history of contemporary physics that demystifies such concepts as the universe, particles, singularity, gravity, blackbody radiation, the speed of light, wave/particle duality, natural constants, black holes, dark matter, and dark energy. Ekeberg’s incisive reading of the metaphysical underpinnings of scientific cosmology offers an innovative account of how we understand our place in the universe.


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Neutron Stars
The Quest to Understand the Zombies of the Cosmos
Katia Moskvitch
Harvard University Press, 2020

The astonishing science of neutron stars and the stories of the scientists who study them.

Neutron stars are as bewildering as they are elusive. The remnants of exploded stellar giants, they are tiny, merely twenty kilometers across, and incredibly dense. One teaspoon of a neutron star would weigh several million tons. They can spin up to a thousand times per second, they possess the strongest magnetic fields known in nature, and they may be the source of the most powerful explosions in the universe. Through vivid storytelling and on-site reporting from observatories all over the world, Neutron Stars offers an engaging account of these still-mysterious objects.

Award-winning science journalist Katia Moskvitch takes readers from the vast Atacama Desert to the arid plains of South Africa to visit the magnificent radio telescopes and brilliant scientists responsible for our knowledge of neutron stars. She recounts the exhilarating discoveries, frustrating disappointments, and heated controversies of the past several decades and explains cutting-edge research into such phenomena as colliding neutron stars and fast radio bursts: extremely powerful but ultra-short flashes in space that scientists are still struggling to understand. She also shows how neutron stars have advanced our broader understanding of the universe—shedding light on topics such as dark matter, black holes, general relativity, and the origins of heavy elements like gold and platinum—and how we might one day use these cosmic beacons to guide interstellar travel.

With clarity and passion, Moskvitch describes what we are learning at the boundaries of astronomy, where stars have life beyond death.


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The Number of the Heavens
A History of the Multiverse and the Quest to Understand the Cosmos
Tom Siegfried
Harvard University Press, 2019

The award-winning former editor of Science News shows that one of the most fascinating and controversial ideas in contemporary cosmology—the existence of multiple parallel universes—has a long and divisive history that continues to this day.

We often consider the universe to encompass everything that exists, but some scientists have come to believe that the vast, expanding universe we inhabit may be just one of many. The totality of those parallel universes, still for some the stuff of science fiction, has come to be known as the multiverse.

The concept of the multiverse, exotic as it may be, isn’t actually new. In The Number of the Heavens, veteran science journalist Tom Siegfried traces the history of this controversial idea from antiquity to the present. Ancient Greek philosophers first raised the possibility of multiple universes, but Aristotle insisted on one and only one cosmos. Then in 1277 the bishop of Paris declared it heresy to teach that God could not create as many universes as he pleased, unleashing fervent philosophical debate about whether there might exist a “plurality of worlds.”

As the Middle Ages gave way to the Renaissance, the philosophical debates became more scientific. René Descartes declared “the number of the heavens” to be indefinitely large, and as notions of the known universe expanded from our solar system to our galaxy, the debate about its multiplicity was repeatedly recast. In the 1980s, new theories about the big bang reignited interest in the multiverse. Today the controversy continues, as cosmologists and physicists explore the possibility of many big bangs, extra dimensions of space, and a set of branching, parallel universes. This engrossing story offers deep lessons about the nature of science and the quest to understand the universe.


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Origins Of Magnetospheric Physics
An Expanded Edition
James A. Van Allen
University of Iowa Press, 2004
Early in 1958, instruments on the space satellites Explorer I and Explorer III revealed the presence of radiation belts, enormous populations of energetic particles trapped in the magnetic field of the earth. Originally published in 1983 but long out of print until now, Origins of Magnetospheric Physics tells the story of this dramatic and hugely transformative period in scientific and Cold War history. Writing in an accessible style and drawing on personal journals, correspondence, published papers, and the recollections of colleagues, James Van Allen documents a trail-blazing era in space history

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Our Universe
An Astronomer’s Guide
Jo Dunkley
Harvard University Press, 2019

A BBC Sky at Night Best Astronomy and Space Book of the Year

“[A] luminous guide to the cosmos…Jo Dunkley swoops from Earth to the observable limits, then explores stellar life cycles, dark matter, cosmic evolution and the soup-to-nuts history of the Universe.”

“A grand tour of space and time, from our nearest planetary neighbors to the edge of the observable Universe…If you feel like refreshing your background knowledge…this little gem certainly won’t disappoint.”
—Govert Schilling, BBC Sky at Night

Most of us have heard of black holes and supernovas, galaxies and the Big Bang. But few understand more than the bare facts about the universe we call home. What is really out there? How did it all begin? Where are we going?

Jo Dunkley begins in Earth’s neighborhood, explaining the nature of the Solar System, the stars in our night sky, and the Milky Way. She traces the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang fourteen billion years ago, past the birth of the Sun and our planets, to today and beyond. She then explains cutting-edge debates about such perplexing phenomena as the accelerating expansion of the universe and the possibility that our universe is only one of many. Our Universe conveys with authority and grace the thrill of scientific discovery and a contagious enthusiasm for the endless wonders of space-time.


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The Perfect Wave
With Neutrinos at the Boundary of Space and Time
Heinrich Päs
Harvard University Press, 2014

Almost weightless and able to pass through the densest materials with ease, neutrinos seem to defy the laws of nature. But these mysterious particles may hold the key to our deepest questions about the universe, says physicist Heinrich Päs. In The Perfect Wave, Päs serves as our fluent, deeply knowledgeable guide to a particle world that tests the boundaries of space, time, and human knowledge.

The existence of the neutrino was first proposed in 1930, but decades passed before one was detected. Päs animates the philosophical and scientific developments that led to and have followed from this seminal discovery, ranging from familiar topics of relativity and quantum mechanics to more speculative theories about dark energy and supersymmetry. Many cutting-edge topics in neutrino research--conjectures about the origin of matter, extra-dimensional spacetime, and the possibility of time travel--remain unproven. But Päs describes the ambitious projects under way that may confirm them, including accelerator experiments at CERN and Fermilab, huge subterranean telescopes designed to detect high-energy neutrino radiation, and the Planck space observatory scheduled to investigate the role of neutrinos in cosmic evolution.

As Päs's history of the neutrino illustrates, what is now established fact often sounded wildly implausible and unnatural when first proposed. The radical side of physics is both an exciting and an essential part of scientific progress, and The Perfect Wave renders it accessible to the interested reader.


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Physical Processes in Circumstellar Disks around Young Stars
Edited by Paulo J. V. Garcia
University of Chicago Press, 2011

Circumstellar disks are vast expanses of dust that form around new stars in the earliest stages of their birth. Predicted by astronomers as early as the eighteenth century, they weren’t observed until the late twentieth century, when interstellar imaging technology enabled us to see nascent stars hundreds of light years away. Since then, circumstellar disks have become an area of intense study among astrophysicists, largely because they are thought to be the forerunners of planetary systems like our own—the possible birthplaces of planets.

This volume brings together a team of leading experts to distill the most up-to-date knowledge of circumstellar disks into a clear introductory volume. Understanding circumstellar disks requires a broad range of scientific knowledge, including chemical processes, the properties of dust and gases, hydrodynamics and magnetohydrodynamics, radiation transfer, and stellar evolution—all of which are covered in this comprehensive work, which will be indispensable for graduate students, seasoned researchers, or even advanced undergrads setting out on the study of planetary evolution.


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The Physics of Extragalactic Radio Sources
David S. De Young
University of Chicago Press, 2002
Extragalactic radio sources are among the most unusual and spectacular objects in the universe, with sizes in excess of millions of light years, radiated energies over ten times those of normal galaxies, and a unique morphology. They reveal some of the most dramatic physical events ever seen and provide essential clues to the basic evolutionary tracks followed by all galaxies and groups of galaxies.

In The Physics of Extragalactic Radio Sources, David De Young provides a clearly written overview of what is currently known about these objects. A unique feature of the book is De Young's emphasis on the physical processes associated with extragalactic radio sources: their evolution, their environment, and their use as probes to solve other astrophysical problems. He also makes extensive use of the large amount of data now available from observations at x-ray, optical, and radio wavelengths to illustrate his main points.
The Physics of Extragalactic Radio Sources will be a comprehensive introduction to the field for graduate students and a useful summary for astrophysicists.

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Quantum Field Theory in Curved Spacetime and Black Hole Thermodynamics
Robert M. Wald
University of Chicago Press, 1994
In this book, Robert Wald provides a coherent, pedagogical introduction to the formulation of quantum field theory in curved spacetime. He begins with a treatment of the ordinary one-dimensional quantum harmonic oscillator, progresses through the construction of quantum field theory in flat spacetime to possible constructions of quantum field theory in curved spacetime, and, ultimately, to an algebraic formulation of the theory. In his presentation, Wald disentangles essential features of the theory from inessential ones (such as a particle interpretation) and clarifies relationships between various approaches to the formulation of the theory. He also provides a comprehensive, up-to-date account of the Unruh effect, the Hawking effect, and some of its ramifications. In particular, the subject of black hole thermodynamics, which remains an active area of research, is treated in depth.

This book will be accessible to students and researchers who have had introductory courses in general relativity and quantum field theory, and will be of interest to scientists in general relativity and related fields.

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Quantum Legacies
Dispatches from an Uncertain World
David Kaiser
University of Chicago Press, 2020
A series of engaging essays that explore iconic moments of discovery and debate in physicists’ ongoing quest to understand the quantum world.

The ideas at the root of quantum theory remain stubbornly, famously bizarre: a solid world reduced to puffs of probability; particles that tunnel through walls; cats suspended in zombielike states, neither alive nor dead; and twinned particles that share entangled fates. For more than a century, physicists have grappled with these conceptual uncertainties while enmeshed in the larger uncertainties of the social and political worlds around them, a time pocked by the rise of fascism, cataclysmic world wars, and a new nuclear age.
In Quantum Legacies, David Kaiser introduces readers to iconic episodes in physicists’ still-unfolding quest to understand space, time, and matter at their most fundamental. In a series of vibrant essays, Kaiser takes us inside moments of discovery and debate among the great minds of the era—Albert Einstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Stephen Hawking, and many more who have indelibly shaped our understanding of nature—as they have tried to make sense of a messy world.
Ranging across space and time, the episodes span the heady 1920s, the dark days of the 1930s, the turbulence of the Cold War, and the peculiar political realities that followed. In those eras as in our own, researchers’ ambition has often been to transcend the vagaries of here and now, to contribute lasting insights into how the world works that might reach beyond a given researcher’s limited view. In Quantum Legacies, Kaiser unveils the difficult and unsteady work required to forge some shared understanding between individuals and across generations, and in doing so, he illuminates the deep ties between scientific exploration and the human condition.

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Relativistic Astrophysics, 2
The Structure and Evolution of the Universe
Ya. B. Zel'dovich and I. D. Novikov
University of Chicago Press, 1983
Though the kinematics of the evolving universe became known decades ago, research into the physics of processes occurring in the expanding universe received a reliable observational and theoretical basis only in more recent years. These achievements have led in turn to the emergence of new problems, on which an unusually active assault has begun.

This second volume of Relativistic Astrophysics provides a remarkably complete picture of the present state of cosmology. It is a synthesis of the theoretical foundations of contemporary cosmology, which are derived from work in relativity, plasma theory, thermodynamics, hydrodynamics, and particle physics. It presents the theoretical work that explains, describes, and predicts the nature of the universe, the physical process that occur in it, the formation of galaxies, the synthesis of the light elements, and the cosmological singularity and the theory of gravitation.

This book, long and eagerly awaited, is essential for everyone whose work is related to cosmology and astrophysics.

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Ripples in Spacetime
Einstein, Gravitational Waves, and the Future of Astronomy
Govert Schilling
Harvard University Press, 2017

It has already been called the scientific breakthrough of the century: the detection of gravitational waves. Einstein predicted these tiny ripples in the fabric of spacetime nearly a hundred years ago, but they were never perceived directly until now. Decades in the making, this momentous discovery has given scientists a new understanding of the cataclysmic events that shape the universe and a new confirmation of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Ripples in Spacetime is an engaging account of the international effort to complete Einstein’s project, capture his elusive ripples, and launch an era of gravitational-wave astronomy that promises to explain, more vividly than ever before, our universe’s structure and origin.

The quest for gravitational waves involved years of risky research and many personal and professional struggles that threatened to derail one of the world’s largest scientific endeavors. Govert Schilling takes readers to sites where these stories unfolded—including Japan’s KAGRA detector, Chile’s Atacama Cosmology Telescope, the South Pole’s BICEP detectors, and the United States’ LIGO labs. He explains the seeming impossibility of developing technologies sensitive enough to detect waves from two colliding black holes in the very distant universe, and describes the astounding precision of the LIGO detectors. Along the way Schilling clarifies concepts such as general relativity, neutron stars, and the big bang using language that readers with little scientific background can grasp.

Ripples in Spacetime provides a window into the next frontiers of astronomy, weaving far-reaching predictions and discoveries into a gripping story of human ambition and perseverance.


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Innovation in Orbit
Doug Millard
Reaktion Books, 2017
Right now, above our heads—nearly imperceptible to us but hugely important to how we live—are thousands of man-made objects that we have sent into space. Ubiquitous but mysterious, satellites are the technological infrastructure of our globally connected world, helping us do everything from orient ourselves on a map to watch our favorite television shows. Yet we rarely ever think about them. In this book, Doug Millard pays overdue tribute to the stoic existence of the satellite, tracing its simultaneous pathways through the cold silence of space and the noisy turbulence of the past century. 
            How satellites ever came to be is, in itself, a remarkable story. Telling an astonishing history of engineering experimentation and ingenuity, Millard shows how the Cold War space race made the earliest satellites—ones like Sputnik, Telstar, and Early Bird—household names. He describes how they evolved into cultural signifiers that represented not only our scientific capabilities but our capacity for imagination, our ability to broaden the scope of our vision to the farthest reaches. From there he follows the proliferation of satellites in the second half of the twentieth century, examining their many different forms, how they evolved, all the things they do, what they have enabled, and how they have influenced our popular culture. Ultimately, Millard asks what we can still expect, what sort of space age the satellite has initiated that is yet to be fully realized.
            Published in association with the Science Museum, London, this beautifully illustrated book will appeal to any fan of space exploration and technology.

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Selected Papers, Volume 1
Stellar Structure and Stellar Atmospheres
S. Chandrasekhar
University of Chicago Press, 1989
This is the first of six volumes collecting significant papers of the distinguished astrophysicist and Nobel laureate S. Chandrasekhar. His work is notable for its breadth as well as for its brilliance; his practice has been to change his focus from time to time to pursue new areas of research. The result has been a prolific career full of discoveries and insights, some of which are only now being fully appreciated.

Chandrasekhar has selected papers that trace the development of his ideas and that present aspects of his work not fully covered in the books he has periodically published to summarize his research in each area.

Volume 1, Stellar Structure and Stellar Atmospheres, covers primarily the period 1930-40 and includes early papers on the theory of white dwarfs. In the Preface, Chandrasekhar explains the criteria for selection and provides historical background. Each subsequent volume will include a foreword by an authority on the topics covered.

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Selected Papers, Volume 2
Radiative Transfer and Negative Ion of Hydrogen
S. Chandrasekhar
University of Chicago Press, 1989
This is the second of six volumes collecting significant papers of the distinguished astrophysicist and Nobel laureate S. Chandrasekhar. His work is notable for its breadth as well as for its brilliance; his practice has been to change his focus from time to time to pursue new areas of research. The result has been a prolific career full of discoveries and insights, some of which are only now being fully appreciated.

Chandrasekhar has selected papers that trace the development of his ideas and that present aspects of his work not fully covered in the books he has periodically published to summarize his research in each area.

Volume 2 covers primarily the period 1940-50 and includes papers on the theory of radiative transfer and on the physics and astrophysics of the negative ion of hydrogen. Of particular note are Chandrasekhar's Gibbs Lecture to the American Mathematical Society in 1946 and his "Personal Account" presented at a conference at Erevan in the U.S.S.R. in 1981. A foreword by T. W. Mullikin, a distinguished scholar in the area of radiative transfer, and an author's note provide a historical context for the papers.

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Selected Papers, Volume 3
Stochastic, Statistical, and Hydromagnetic Problems in Physics and Astronomy
S. Chandrasekhar
University of Chicago Press, 1989
This is the third of six volumes collecting significant papers of the distinguished astrophysicist and Nobel laureate S. Chandrasekhar. His work is notable for its breadth as well as for its brilliance; his practice has been to change his focus from time to time to pursue new areas of research. The result has been a prolific career full of discoveries and insights, some of which are only now being fully appreciated.

Chandrasekhar has selected papers that trace the development of his ideas and that present aspects of his work not fully covered in the books he has periodically published to summarize his research in each area.

This volume is divided into four sections. The first, on dynamical friction and Brownian motion, includes papers written after Chandrasekhar published his 1942 monograph Principles of Stellar Dynamics. Also in this section is "Stochastic Problems in Physics and Astronomy," one of the most cited papers in the physics literature, as well as papers written jointly with John von Neumann that have been given impetus to recent research. As Chandrasekhar notes, the papers in the second section, on statistical problems in astronomy, were influenced by Ambartsumian's analysis of brightness in the Milky Way. A third section on the statistical theory of turbulence addresses issues still unresolved in fluid dynamics, and the last section is devoted to hydromagnetic problems in astrophysics that are not discussed in Chandrasekhar's monographs.

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Selected Papers, Volume 5
Relativistic Astrophysics
S. Chandrasekhar
University of Chicago Press, 1990
This is the fifth of six volumes collecting significant papers of the distinguished astrophysicist and Nobel laureate S. Chandrasekhar. His work is notable for its breadth as well as for its brilliance; his practice has been to change his focus from time to time to pursue new areas of research. The result has been a prolific career full of discoveries and insights, some of which are only now being fully appreciated.

Chandrasekhar has selected papers that trace the development of his ideas and that present aspects of his work not fully covered in the books he has periodically published to summarize his research in each area.

Volume 5 covers all of Chandrasekhar's contributions to the general theory of relativity and relativity's astrophysical applications (except his research on black holes and colliding gravitational waves, which is covered in Volume 6). The major topics include the influence of general relativity on the pulsations and stability of stars; the back reaction of gravitational waves on their sources; and post-Newtonian approximations to general relativity and their astrophysical applications. In addition to research papers, the volume includes two 1972 lectures in which Chandrasekhar assessed the past, present, and future of relativistic astrophysics. The foreword by astrophysicist Kip S. Thorne is an absorbing, brief history of the field since 1961, capturing the atmosphere of the early research and clarifying Chandrasekhar's dominant role in it.

Chandrasekhar has never written a monograph synthesizing his research in relativistic astrophysics, and therefore this volume of his papers serves as a summary of that work for students and more senior researchers.

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Selected Papers, Volume 6
The Mathematical Theory of Black Holes and of Colliding Plane Waves
S. Chandrasekhar
University of Chicago Press, 1991
This is the first of six volumes collecting significant papers of the distinguished astrophysicist and Nobel laureate S. Chandrasekhar. His work is notable for its breadth as well as for its brilliance; his practice has been to change his focus from time to time to pursue new areas of research. The result has been a prolific career full of discoveries and insights, some of which are only now being fully appreciated.

Chandrasekhar has selected papers that trace the development of his ideas and that present aspects of his work not fully covered in the books he has periodically published to summarize his research in each area.

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Selected Papers, Volume 7
The Non-Radial Oscillations of Stars in General Relativity and Other Writings
S. Chandrasekhar
University of Chicago Press, 1997
In these selections readers are treated to a rare opportunity to see the
world through the eyes of one of the twentieth century's most brilliant
and sensitive scientists. Conceived by Chandrasekhar as a supplement to
his Selected Papers, this volume begins with eight papers he
wrote with Valeria Ferrari on the non-radial oscillations of stars. It
then explores some of the themes addressed in Truth and Beauty,
with meditations on the aesthetics of science and the world it examines.
Highlights include: "The Series Paintings of Claude Monet and the
Landscape of General Relativity," "The Perception of Beauty and the
Pursuit of Science," "On Reading Newton's Principia at Age Past
Eighty," and personal recollections of Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru,
and others.

Selected Papers, Volume 7 paints a picture of Chandra's universe,
filled with stars and galaxies, but with space for poetics, paintings,
and politics.

The late S. Chandrasekhar was best known for his discovery of the upper
limit to the mass of a white dwarf star, for which he received the Nobel
Prize in Physics in 1983. He was the author of many books, including
The Mathematical Theory of Black Holes and, most recently,
Newton's Principia for the Common Reader.


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A Separate Space
Creating a Military Service for Space
Michael Spirtas
RAND Corporation, 2020
As the United States creates the Space Force as a service within the Department of the Air Force, RAND assessed which units to bring into the Space Force, analyzed career field sustainability, and drew lessons from other defense organizations. The report focuses on implications for effectiveness, efficiency, independence, and sense of identity for the new service.

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A Source Book in Astronomy and Astrophysics, 1900–1975
Kenneth Lang
Harvard University Press, 1979

When at the beginning of this century, new instrumentation in astronomy came together with innovative concepts in physics, a science was born that has yielded not only staggering quantities of information about the universe but an elegant and useful conception of its origins and behavior. This volume in Harvard’s distinguished series of Source Books serves to record the achievements of this science and illuminate its brief history by bringing together the major contributions through the year 1975.

The volume is organized to trace the development of the basic ideas of astrophysics. The 132 selections document chronologically the changing answers to such fundamental questions as: How did the solar system originate? What makes the stars shine? What lies in the vacuous space between the stars? Are the spiral nebulae distant “island universes”? Will the universe expand forever? The articles range from Hale’s popular piece in Harper’s Magazine to the tensor calculus of Schwarzschild and Einstein. They include Chamberlain and Moulton’s account of the collision hypothesis; Edwin Hubble’s identification of the Crab Nebula with the supernova of 1054; Ralph Fowler’s work on the application of degenerate gas statistics to white dwarfs; and Jan Oort’s detection of galactic rotation. The complexity and richness of twentieth-century astrophysics is felt in these selections and a sense of discovery is provided in reading, in the words of the pioneer scientist, accounts of the first observations of the cosmic rays, the Van Allen belts, the Martian volcanoes and canyons, pulsars, interstellar hydrogen, cosmic magnetic fields, quasars and the remnant background of the primeval big bang.

About half of the papers are printed in their entirety and the others in careful abridgment. Editors Kenneth Lang and Owen Gingerich provide substantial commentary that describes related developments before, during and after the selected research. Works by Heinrich Vogt, Carl Friedrich von Weizsacker, Karl Schwarzschild, Albert Einstein, Aleksandr Friedman and many others appear for the first time in translation.


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The Space Station
A Personal Journey
Hans Mark
Duke University Press, 1987
This insider's account, a penetrating view of science policy and politics during two presidencies, captures the euphoria that characterized the space program in the late seventies and early eighties and furnishes an invaluable perspective on the Challenger tragedy and the future of the United States in space. President Reagan's approval of $8 billion for the construction of a permanently manned orbiting space station climaxed one of the most important political and technological debates in the history of the U.S. program in space.
In The Space Station the story of this debate is told by Hans mark, who had major roles in the development of the space shuttle from its beginnings in the sixties and who bore a primary responsibility for overseeing the space station project during the decisive years from 1981 to 1984. Mark's appointment to the post of deputy administrator of NASA capped a career devoted to the development and management of space technology—he served as director of NASA's Ames Research Center, then as under secretary and later secretary of the U.S. Air Force. Serving under both President Carter and President Reagan, mark is uniquely able to chronicle the intricate process by which the space shuttle became a reality and the space station an acknowledged goal of the American space effort.
A scientist by training, Mark's account of his career in the space program is the story of a personal dream as well as the story of a vast public enterprise whose human side is only now being fully appreciated.

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Space, Time, and Gravity
The Theory of the Big Bang and Black Holes
Robert M. Wald
University of Chicago Press, 1992
Writing for the general reader or student, Wald has completely revised and updated this highly regarded work to include recent developments in black hole physics and cosmology. Nature called the first edition "a very readable and accurate account of modern relativity physics for the layman within the unavoidable constraint of almost no mathematics. . . . A well written, entertaining and authoritative book."

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Stars as Laboratories for Fundamental Physics
The Astrophysics of Neutrinos, Axions, and Other Weakly Interacting Particles
Georg G. Raffelt
University of Chicago Press, 1996
The first extended work of its kind, Stars as Laboratories for Fundamental Physics stands at the intersection of two burgeoning fields, astrophysics and particle physics. Georg Raffelt, one of the world's leading researchers in this field, describes what the study of stars reveals about fundamental particle interactions.

Raffelt presents the many uses of stellar astrophysics for research in basic particle physics. He focuses primarily on the properties and nongravitational interactions of elementary particles. Numerous graphs and figures complement the text.

Stars as Laboratories for Fundamental Physics is a valuable reference for cosmologists, astrophysicists, and particle physicists.

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The Sun in Time
Edited by C. P. Sonett, M. S. Giampapa, and M. S. Matthews
University of Arizona Press, 1991
An interdisciplinary approach to solar physics, as eighty-nine contributors trace the evolution of the Sun and provide a review of our current understanding of both its structure and its role in the origin and evolution of the solar system.

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Taxi from Another Planet
Conversations with Drivers about Life in the Universe
Charles S. Cockell
Harvard University Press, 2022

Insightful, good-humored essays on the possibilities of alien life and the uses of space exploration, based on an astrobiologist’s everyday conversations with his fellow humans—taxi drivers, to be precise.

If you’ve ever sat in the back seat of a taxi, you know that cabbies like to talk. Sports or politics, your job or theirs, taxi drivers are fine conversationalists on just about any topic. And when the passenger is astrobiologist Charles Cockell, that topic is usually space and what, if anything, lives out there.

Inspired by conversations with drivers all over the world, Taxi from Another Planet tackles the questions that everyday people have about the cosmos and our place in it. Will we understand aliens? What if there isn’t life out in the universe? Is Mars our Plan B? And why is the government spending tax dollars on space programs anyway? Each essay in this genial collection takes questions like these as a starting point on the way to a range of insightful, even poignant, observations. Cockell delves into debates over the inevitability of life and looks to both human history and scientific knowledge to consider what first contact will be like and what we can expect from spacefaring societies. He also offers a forceful argument for the sympathies between space exploration and environmentalism.

A shrewd and entertaining foray into the most fundamental mysteries, Taxi from Another Planet brings together the wisdom of scientific experts and their fellow citizens of Earth, the better to understand how life might unfold elsewhere.


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Theoretical Principles in Astrophysics and Relativity
Norman R. Lebovitz, William H. Reid, and Peter O. Vandervoort
University of Chicago Press, 1981
"This is a remarkable book: a symposium proceedings volume that will also function as a graduate-level text. Dedicated to the great theorist S. Chandrasekhar, the book consists of ten well-written chapters that cover the essential tools of theoretical astrophysics. The first half of the volume is concerned with the theory of how stars work (structure, stability, rotation, magnetism, dynamics) and the latter half is mainly a survey of relativistic astrophysics. . . . Read it for a broad-brush view of what theorists are up to now and how they solve problems."—Journal of the British Astronomical Association

"The book as a whole should be a gift from every research supervisor to every new graduate student in theoretical astronomy."—D. W. Sciama, Science

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Theory of Neutron Star Magnetospheres
F. Curtis Michel
University of Chicago Press, 1990
An incomparable reference for astrophysicists studying pulsars and other kinds of neutron stars, Theory of Neutron Star Magnetospheres sums up two decades of astrophysical research. It provides in one volume the most important findings to date on this topic, essential to astrophysicists faced with a huge and widely scattered literature.

F. Curtis Michel, who was among the first theorists to propose a neutron star model for radio pulsars, analyzes competing models of pulsars, radio emission models, winds and jets from pulsars, pulsating X-ray sources, gamma-ray burst sources, and other neutron-star driven phenomena. Although the book places primary emphasis on theoretical essentials, it also provides a considerable introduction to the observational data and its organization. Michel emphasizes the problems and uncertainties that have arisen in the research as well as the considerable progress that has been made to date.

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Three Steps to the Universe
From the Sun to Black Holes to the Mystery of Dark Matter
David Garfinkle and Richard Garfinkle
University of Chicago Press, 2008
If scientists can’t touch the Sun, how do they know what it’s made of? And if we can’t see black holes, how can we be confident they exist? Gravitational physicist David Garfinkle and his brother, science fiction writer Richard Garfinkle, tackle these questions and more in Three Steps to the Universe, a tour through some of the most complex phenomena in the cosmos and an accessible exploration of how scientists acquire knowledge about the universe through observation, indirect detection, and theory.
The authors begin by inviting readers to step away from the Earth and reconsider our Sun. What we can directly observe of this star is limited to its surface, but with the advent of telescopes and spectroscopy, scientists know more than ever about its physical characteristics, origins, and projected lifetime. From the Sun, the authors journey further out into space to explore black holes. The Garfinkle brothers explain that our understanding of these astronomical oddities began in theory, and growing mathematical and physical evidence has unexpectedly supported it. From black holes, the authors lead us further into the unknown, to the dark matter and energy that pervade our universe, where science teeters on the edge of theory and discovery. Returning from the depths of space, the final section of the book brings the reader back down to Earth for a final look at the practice of science, ending with a practical guide to discerning real science from pseudoscience among the cacophony of print and online scientific sources. 

Three Steps to the Universe will reward anyone interested in learning more about the universe around us and shows how scientists uncover its mysteries.

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Time Travel and Warp Drives
A Scientific Guide to Shortcuts through Time and Space
Allen Everett and Thomas Roman
University of Chicago Press, 2011

To see video demonstrations of key concepts from the book, please visit this website:

Sci-fi makes it look so easy. Receive a distress call from Alpha Centauri? No problem: punch the warp drive and you're there in minutes. Facing a catastrophe that can't be averted? Just pop back in the timestream and stop it before it starts. But for those of us not lucky enough to live in a science-fictional universe, are these ideas merely flights of fancy—or could it really be possible to travel through time or take shortcuts between stars?

Cutting-edge physics may not be able to answer those questions yet, but it does offer up some tantalizing possibilities. In Time Travel and Warp Drives, Allen Everett and Thomas A. Roman take readers on a clear, concise tour of our current understanding of the nature of time and space—and whether or not we might be able to bend them to our will. Using no math beyond high school algebra, the authors lay out an approachable explanation of Einstein's special relativity, then move through the fundamental differences between traveling forward and backward in time and the surprising theoretical connection between going back in time and traveling faster than the speed of light. They survey a variety of possible time machines and warp drives, including wormholes and warp bubbles, and, in a dizzyingly creative chapter, imagine the paradoxes that could plague a world where time travel was possible—killing your own grandfather is only one of them!

Written with a light touch and an irrepressible love of the fun of sci-fi scenarios—but firmly rooted in the most up-to-date science, Time Travel and Warp Drives will be a delightful discovery for any science buff or armchair chrononaut.


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Venus II
Geology, Geophysics, Atmosphere, and Solar Wind Environment
Edited by S. W. Bougher, D. M. Hunten, and R. J. Phillips
University of Arizona Press, 1997
The final orbit of Venus by the Magellan spacecraft in October 1994 brought to a close an exciting period of Venus reconnaissance and exploration. The scientific studies resulting from data collected by the Magellan, Galileo, and Pioneer missions are unprecedented in their detail for any planet except Earth. Venus II re-evaluates initial assessments of Venus in light of these and other spacecraft missions and ground-based observations conducted over the past 30 years. More than a hundred contributors summarize our current knowledge of the planet, consider points of disagreement in interpretation, and identify priorities for future research.

Topics addressed include geology, surface processes, volcanism, tectonism, impact cratering, geodynamics, upper and lower atmospheres, and solar wind environment. The diversity of the coverage reflects the interdisciplinary nature of Venus science and the breadth of knowledge that has contributed to it. A CD-ROM developed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory accompanies the book and incorporates text, graphics, video, software, and various digital products from selected contributors to the text. A multimedia interface allows users to navigate the text and the extensive databases included on the disk. Venus II is the most authoritative single volume available on the second planet. Its contents will not only help shape the goals of future Venus missions but will also enhance our understanding of current Mars explorations.

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Vera Rubin
A Life
Jacqueline Mitton and Simon Mitton
Harvard University Press, 2021

A Physics Today Best Book of the Year

The first biography of a pioneering scientist who made significant contributions to our understanding of dark matter and championed the advancement of women in science.

One of the great lingering mysteries of the universe is dark matter. Scientists are not sure what it is, but most believe it’s out there, and in abundance. The astronomer who finally convinced many of them was Vera Rubin. When Rubin died in 2016, she was regarded as one of the most influential astronomers of her era. Her research on the rotation of spiral galaxies was groundbreaking, and her observations contributed significantly to the confirmation of dark matter, a most notable achievement.

In Vera Rubin: A Life, prolific science writers Jacqueline Mitton and Simon Mitton provide a detailed, accessible overview of Rubin’s work, showing how she leveraged immense curiosity, profound intelligence, and novel technologies to help transform our understanding of the cosmos. But Rubin’s impact was not limited to her contributions to scientific knowledge. She also helped to transform scientific practice by promoting the careers of women researchers. Not content to be an inspiration, Rubin was a mentor and a champion. She advocated for hiring women faculty, inviting women speakers to major conferences, and honoring women with awards that were historically the exclusive province of men.

Rubin’s papers and correspondence yield vivid insights into her life and work, as she faced down gender discrimination and met the demands of family and research throughout a long and influential career. Deftly written, with both scientific experts and general readers in mind, Vera Rubin is a portrait of a woman with insatiable curiosity about the universe who never stopped asking questions and encouraging other women to do the same.


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What Stars Are Made Of
The Life of Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
Donovan Moore
Harvard University Press, 2020

A New Scientist Book of the Year
A Physics Today Book of the Year
A Science News Book of the Year

The history of science is replete with women getting little notice for their groundbreaking discoveries. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, a tireless innovator who correctly theorized the substance of stars, was one of them.

It was not easy being a woman of ambition in early twentieth-century England, much less one who wished to be a scientist. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin overcame prodigious obstacles to become a woman of many firsts: the first to receive a PhD in astronomy from Radcliffe College, the first promoted to full professor at Harvard, the first to head a department there. And, in what has been called “the most brilliant PhD thesis ever written in astronomy,” she was the first to describe what stars are made of.

Payne-Gaposchkin lived in a society that did not know what to make of a determined schoolgirl who wanted to know everything. She was derided in college and refused a degree. As a graduate student, she faced formidable skepticism. Revolutionary ideas rarely enjoy instantaneous acceptance, but the learned men of the astronomical community found hers especially hard to take seriously. Though welcomed at the Harvard College Observatory, she worked for years without recognition or status. Still, she accomplished what every scientist yearns for: discovery. She revealed the atomic composition of stars—only to be told that her conclusions were wrong by the very man who would later show her to be correct.

In What Stars Are Made Of, Donovan Moore brings this remarkable woman to life through extensive archival research, family interviews, and photographs. Moore retraces Payne-Gaposchkin’s steps with visits to cramped observatories and nighttime bicycle rides through the streets of Cambridge, England. The result is a story of devotion and tenacity that speaks powerfully to our own time.


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What's Eating the Universe?
And Other Cosmic Questions
Paul Davies
University of Chicago Press, 2021
Combining the latest scientific advances with storytelling skills unmatched in the cosmos, an award-winning astrophysicist and popular writer leads us on a tour of some of the greatest mysteries of our universe.
In the constellation of Eridanus, there lurks a cosmic mystery: It’s as if something has taken a huge bite out of the universe. But what is the culprit? The hole in the universe is just one of many puzzles keeping cosmologists busy. Supermassive black holes, bubbles of nothingness gobbling up space, monster universes swallowing others—these and many other bizarre ideas are being pursued by scientists. Due to breathtaking progress in astronomy, the history of our universe is now better understood than the history of our own planet. But these advances have uncovered some startling riddles. In this electrifying new book, renowned cosmologist and author Paul Davies lucidly explains what we know about the cosmos and its enigmas, exploring the tantalizing—and sometimes terrifying—possibilities that lie before us.

As Davies guides us through the audacious research offering mind-bending solutions to these and other mysteries, he leads us up to the greatest outstanding conundrum of all: Why does the universe even exist in the first place? And how did a system of mindless, purposeless particles manage to bring forth conscious, thinking beings? Filled with wit and wonder, What’s Eating the Universe? is a dazzling tour of cosmic questions, sure to entertain, enchant, and inspire us all.

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The Outcast Genius Who Unmasked the Universe
John Johnson Jr.
Harvard University Press, 2019

“A fitting biography of one of the most brilliant, acerbic, and under-appreciated astrophysicists of the twentieth century. John Johnson has delved deeply into a rich and eventful life, and produced a rollicking account of how Fritz Zwicky split his time between picking fights with his colleagues and discovering amazing things about our universe.”—Sean Carroll, author of The Big Picture

Fritz Zwicky was one of the most inventive and iconoclastic scientists of his time. He predicted the existence of neutron stars, and his research pointed the way toward the discovery of pulsars and black holes. He was the first to conceive of the existence of dark matter, the first to make a detailed catalog of thousands of galaxies, and the first to correctly suggest that cosmic rays originate from supernovas.

Not content to confine his discoveries to the heavens, Zwicky contributed to the United States war against Japan with inventions in jet propulsion that enabled aircraft to launch from carriers in the Pacific. After the war, he was the first Western scientist to interview Wernher von Braun, the Nazi engineer who developed the V-2 rocket. Later he became an outspoken advocate for space exploration, but also tangled with almost every leading scientist of the time, from Edwin Hubble and Richard Feynman to J. Robert Oppenheimer and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

In Zwicky, John Johnson, Jr., brings this tempestuous maverick to life. Zwicky not only made groundbreaking contributions to science and engineering; he rose to fame as one of the most imaginative science popularizers of his day. Yet he became a pariah in the scientific community, denouncing his enemies, real and imagined, as “spherical bastards” and “horses’ asses.” Largely forgotten today, Zwicky deserves rediscovery for introducing some of the most destructive forces in the universe, and as a reminder that genius obeys no rules and has no friends.


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