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Coloring the Universe
An Insider's Look at Making Spectacular Images of Space
Travis Rector, Kimberly Arcand, and Megan Watzke
University of Alaska Press, 2015
With a fleet of telescopes in space and giant observatories on the ground, professional astronomers produce hundreds of spectacular images of space every year. These colorful pictures have become infused into popular culture and can found everywhere, from advertising to television shows to memes. But they also invite questions: Is this what outer space really looks like? Are the colors real? And how do these images get from the stars to our screens?

Coloring the Universe uses accessible language to describe how these giant telescopes work, what scientists learn with them, and how they are used to make color images. It talks about how otherwise un-seeable rays, such as radio waves, infrared light, X-rays, and gamma rays, are turned into recognizable colors. And it is filled with fantastic images taken in far-away pockets of the universe. Informative and beautiful, Coloring the Universe will give space fans of all levels an insider’s look at how scientists bring deep space into brilliant focus.
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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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Disturbing the Universe
Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature
Roberta S. Trites
University of Iowa Press, 2004

 The Young Adult novel is ordinarily characterized as a coming-of-age story, in which the narrative revolves around the individual growth and maturation of a character, but Roberta Trites expands this notion by chronicling the dynamics of power and repression that weave their way through YA books. Characters in these novels must learn to negotiate the levels of power that exist in the myriad social institutions within which they function, including family, church, government, and school.

Trites argues that the development of the genre over the past thirty years is an outgrowth of postmodernism, since YA novels are, by definition, texts that interrogate the social construction of individuals. Drawing on such nineteenth-century precursors as Little Women and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Disturbing the Universe demonstrates how important it is to employ poststructuralist methodologies in analyzing adolescent literature, both in critical studies and in the classroom. Among the twentieth-century authors discussed are Blume, Hamilton, Hinton, Le Guin, L'Engle, and Zindel.

Trites' work has applications for a broad range of readers, including scholars of children's literature and theorists of post-modernity as well as librarians and secondary-school teachers.

Disturbing the Universe: Power and Repression in Adolescent Literature by Roberta Seelinger Trites is the winner of the 2002 Children's Literature Association's Book Award. The award is given annually in order to promote and recognize outstanding contributions to children's literature, history, scholarship, and criticisim; it is one of the highest academic honors that can accrue to an author of children's literary criticism.

 
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Einstein’s Greatest Blunder?
The Cosmological Constant and Other Fudge Factors in the Physics of the Universe
Donald Goldsmith
Harvard University Press, 1995

The Big Bang: A Big Bust? The cosmos seems to be in crisis, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see it. How, for instance, can the universe be full of stars far older than itself? How could space have once expanded faster than the speed of light? How can most of the matter in the universe be “missing”? And what kind of truly weird matter could possibly account for ninety percent of the universe’s total mass?

This brief and witty book, by the award-winning science writer Donald Goldsmith, takes on these and other key questions about the origin and evolution of the cosmos. By clearly laying out what we currently know about the universe as a whole, Goldsmith lets us see firsthand, and judge for ourselves, whether modern cosmology is in a state of crisis. Einstein’s Greatest Blunder? puts the biggest subject of all—the story of the universe as scientists understand it—within the grasp of English-speaking earthlings.

When Albert Einstein confronted a cosmological contradiction, in 1917, his solution was to introduce a new term, the “cosmological constant.” For a time, this mathematical invention solved discrepancies between his model and the best observations available, but years later Einstein called it the “greatest blunder” of his career. And yet the cosmological constant is still alive today—it is one of the “fudge factors” employed by cosmologists to make their calculations fit the observational data. Theoretical cosmologists, shows Goldsmith, continually reshape their models in an honest (if sometimes futile) effort to explain apparent chaos as cosmic harmony—whether their specific concern is the age and expansion rate of the cosmos, hot versus cold “dark matter,” the inflationary theory of the big bang, the explanation of large-scale structure, or the density and future of the universe.

Engagingly written and richly illustrated with photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, Einstein’s Greatest Blunder? is a feast for the eye and mind.

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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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Encountering Life in the Universe
Ethical Foundations and Social Implications of Astrobiology
Edited by Chris Impey, Anna H. Spitz, and William Stoeger
University of Arizona Press, 2013
Are we alone in the universe? Are the planets our playground to treat as we will, or do we have a responsibility to other creatures who may inhabit or use them? Do we have a right to dump trash in space or leave vehicles on Mars or the moon?  How should we interact with other life forms?

Encountering Life in the Universe examines the intersection of scientific research and society to further explore the ethics of how to behave in a universe where much is unknown. Taking contributions from notable experts in several fields, the editors skillfully introduce and develop a broad look at the moral questions facing humans on Earth and beyond.

Major advances in biology, biotechnology, and medicine create an urgency to ethical considerations in those fields. Astrobiology goes on to debate how we might behave as we explore new worlds, or create new life in the laboratory, or interact with extraterrestrial life forms. Stimulated by new technologies for scientific exploration on and off the Earth, astrobiology is establishing itself as a distinct scientific endeavor.

In what way can established philosophies provide guidance for the new frontiers opened by astrobiology research? Can the foundations of ethics and moral philosophy help answer questions about modifying other planets? Or about how to conduct experiments to create life in the lab or about? How to interact with organisms we might discover on another world?

While we wait for the first echo that might indicate life beyond Earth, astobiologists, along with philosophers, theologians, artists, and the general public, are exploring how we might behave—even before we know for sure they are there. Encountering Life in the Universe is a remarkable resource for such philosophical challenges.
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God's Gift of the Universe
An Introduction to Creation Theology
Paul O'Callaghan
Catholic University of America Press, 2021
There are many ways of understanding the reality of the world we live in and experience. Science, philosophy, art all offer us ample descriptions, explanations and intuitions. But Christian believers go beyond all that, for they attempt to understand the origins of the universe in terms of the creation of the world by God. Revelation tells us what God had in mind when he made the world ex nihilo, without presuppositions of any kind. God’s Gift of the Universe attempts to present the principal elements and stages of creation theology. The doctrine is to be found fundamentally, of course, in Scripture, both Old and New Testament, which describes the world in the light of God’s word. Yet since God actually gave existence to the world, down to the last detail, our reflection on God’s word not only explains the reality of creation, how it works, its nature, as science does. It also explains how creation came into being in the mind and heart of the Triune God, and, ultimately, why God created the world. In God’s Gift of the Universe, a considerable effort has been spent throughout the book on the Christological and Trinitarian aspects of creation, particularly in the theology of Church Fathers. Creation is presented besides in a deeply eschatological key, for God created the world for purpose of making his glory eternally manifest. The book also considers the way God ‘intervenes’ in the life of the created world, through conservation in being and providence. The meaning of time, matter and spirit are considered. The need for ecological awareness is central. One aspect of the mystery of creation that receives special attention is the presence of evil in the world. This is of particular importance once we accept that God made the world, whole and entire, thus assuming responsibility for the world as it is. The origin of evil through the sin of spiritual creatures provides the ultimate though not the only explanation of the mystery of evil. Particular consideration is given to the reality of ‘original sin’.
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Into the Universe of Technical Images
Vilém Flusser
University of Minnesota Press, 2010
Poised between hope and despair for a humanity facing an urgent communication crisis, this work by Vilém Flusser forecasts either the first truly human, infinitely creative society in history or a society of unbearable, oppressive sameness, locked in a pattern it cannot change. First published in German in 1985 and now available in English for the first time, Into the Universe of Technical Images outlines the history of communication technology as a process of increasing abstraction.

Flusser charts how communication evolved from direct interaction with the world to mediation through various technologies. The invention of writing marked one significant shift; the invention of photography marked another, heralding the current age of the technical image. The automation of the processing of technical images carries both promise and threat: the promise of freeing humans to play and invent and the threat for networks of automation to proceed independently of humans.
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Is God The Only Reality
Science Points Deeper Meaning Of Universe
John Marks Templeton
Templeton Press, 2012
The great paradox of science in the twentieth century is that the more we learn, the less we seem to know. In this volume, John Templeton and scientist Robert Herrmann address this paradox.
 
Reviewing the latest findings in fields from particle physics to archaeology, from molecular biology to cosmology, the book leads the reader to see how mysterious the universe is, even to the very science that seeks to reduce it to a few simple principles.
 
Far from concluding that religion and science are in opposition, the book shows how these two fields of inquiry are intimately linked, and how much they can offer to one another.
 
Formerly published by Continuum in 1994.
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Lake Views
This World and the Universe
Steven Weinberg
Harvard University Press, 2009

Just as Henry David Thoreau “traveled a great deal in Concord,” Nobel Prize–winning physicist Steven Weinberg sees much of the world from the window of his study overlooking Lake Austin. In Lake Views Weinberg, considered by many to be the preeminent theoretical physicist alive today, continues the wide-ranging reflections that have also earned him a reputation as, in the words of New York Times reporter James Glanz, “a powerful writer of prose that can illuminate—and sting.”

This collection presents Weinberg’s views on topics ranging from problems of cosmology to assorted world issues—military, political, and religious. Even as he moves beyond the bounds of science, each essay reflects his experience as a theoretical physicist. And as in the celebrated Facing Up, the essays express a viewpoint that is rationalist, reductionist, realist, and secular. A new introduction precedes each essay, explaining how it came to be written and bringing it up to date where necessary.

As an essayist, Weinberg insists on seeing things as they are, without despair and with good humor. Sure to provoke his readers—postmodern cultural critics, enthusiasts for manned space flight or missile defense, economic conservatives, sociologists of science, anti-Zionists, and religious zealots—this book nonetheless offers the pleasure of a sustained encounter with one of the most interesting scientific minds of our time.

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Lenore Tawney
Mirror of the Universe
Edited by Karen Patterson
University of Chicago Press, 2019
Recent years have seen an enormous surge of interest in fiber arts, with works made of thread on display in art museums around the world. But this art form only began to transcend its origins as a humble craft in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and it wasn’t until the 1950s and 1960s that artists used the fiber arts to build critical practices that challenged the definitions of painting, drawing, and sculpture. One of those artists was Lenore Tawney (1907–2007).

Raised and trained in Chicago before she moved to New York, Tawney had a storied career. She was known for employing an ancient Peruvian gauze weave technique to create a painterly effect that appeared to float in space rather than cling to the wall, as well as for being one of the first artists to blend sculptural techniques with weaving practices and, in the process, pioneered a new direction in fiber art. Despite her prominence on the New York art scene, however, she has only recently begun to receive her due from the greater art world. Accompanying a retrospective at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, this catalog features a comprehensive biography of Tawney, additional essays on her work, and two hundred full-color illustrations, making it of interest to contemporary artists, art historians, and the growing audience for fiber art.

Copublished with the John Michael Kohler Arts Center.
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Magical Arrows
The Maori, The Greeks, And The Folklore Of The Universe
Gregory A. Schrempp
University of Wisconsin Press, 1992
A fascinating and sophisticated exploration of cosmology, Magical Arrows connects the Western philosophical tradition with the cosmological traditions of non-Western societies, particularly those of Polynesia. Using the mythology and philosophy of the Maori of New Zealand as a counterpoint to Western thought, Schrempp finds a philosophical common denominator in the thought of the pre-Socratic philosopher, Zeno of Elea. Schrempp suggests that the paradoxes of Zeno, together with the philosophical speculations that they have historically inspired, contain sophisticated insights which are nevertheless general enough to form the foundations of a comparative cosmology.
    Schrempp suggests that perhaps the most noteworthy Zenoian insight is that paradox is intrinsic to cosmological speculation. But he points out that there are many other characteristics of Zeno’s approach, including the strategy of juxtaposing concrete images to mathematical forms of representation, that reappear persistently in Western intellectual history. Schrempp proceeds through a series of juxtapositions—between Zeno, Kant, Lovejoy, and Lévi-Strauss, and between Western cosmologists and those from other cultures—to highlight subtle similarities and differences among intellectual traditions and to examine the conceptual apparatus of Western social science.
    Schrempp concludes that a meaningful comparative cosmology is possible and that the tradition of Zeno provides a propitious starting point for such a perspective.
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The Man Who Painted the Universe
The Story of a Planetarium in the Heart of the North Woods
Ron Legro
Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2015
As a young boy Frank Kovac Jr. fell deeply in love with stargazing, painting glow-in-the-dark constellations on his bedroom wall and inviting friends to an observatory he built in his Chicago backyard. As he reached adulthood, Kovac did not let go of his childhood dreams of reaching the stars. He began scheming to bring the universe home. While working at a paper mill as a young man, Kovac tirelessly built a 22-foot rotating globe planetarium in the woods. Despite failures and collapses, the amateur astronomer singlehandedly built a North Woods treasure, painting more than 5,000 glowing stars—dot by dot in glowing paints. Today, Kovac and his unique planetarium take visitors to the stars every day.
 
The Man Who Painted the Universe: The Story of a Planetarium in the Heart of the North Woods introduces readers to the mild-mannered astronomy enthusiast whose creativity, ingenuity, fervor, and endurance realized a dream of galactic proportions. The story of this stargazer from Wisconsin’s North Woods so inspired two newspapermen, authors Ron Legro and Avi Lank, that they sought to document the story of the Kovac Planetarium for a new generation of stargazers and dreamers.
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Masters of the Universe, Slaves of the Market
Stephen Bell and Andrew Hindmoor
Harvard University Press, 2015

This account of the financial crisis of 2008–2009 compares banking systems in the United States and the United Kingdom to those of Canada and Australia and explains why the system imploded in the former but not the latter. Central to this analysis are differences in bankers’ beliefs and incentives in different banking markets.

A boom mentality and fear of being left behind by competitors drove many U.S. and British bank executives to take extraordinary risks in creating new financial products. Intense market competition, poorly understood trading instruments, and escalating system complexity both drove and misled bankers. Formerly illiquid assets such as mortgages and other forms of debt were repackaged into complex securities, including collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). These were then traded on an industrial scale, and in 2007 and 2008, when their value collapsed, economic activity fell into a deep freeze. The financial crisis threatened not just investment banks and their insurers but also individual homeowners and workers at every level. In contrast, because banks in Canada and Australia could make good profits through traditional lending practices, they did not confront the same pressures to reinvent themselves as did banks in the United States and the United Kingdom, thus allowing them to avoid the fate of their overseas counterparts.

Stephen Bell and Andrew Hindmoor argue that trading and systemic risk in the banking system need to be reined in. However, prospects for this are not promising given the commitment of governments in the crisis-hit economies to protect the “international competitiveness” of the London and New York financial markets.

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Measuring the Cosmos
How Scientists Discovered the Dimensions of the Universe
Clark, David H.
Rutgers University Press, 2004

Humans have always viewed the heavens with wonder and awe. The skies have inspired reflection on the vastness of space, the wonder of creation, and humankind’s role in the universe. In just over one hundred years, science has moved from almost total ignorance about the actual distances to the stars and earth’s place in the galaxy to our present knowledge about the enormous size, mass, and age of the universe. We are reaching the limits of observation, and therefore the limits of human understanding. Beyond lies only our imagination, seeded by the theories of physics. In Measuring the Cosmos, science writers David and Matthew Clark tell the stories of both the well-known and the unsung heroes who played key roles in these discoveries. These true accounts reveal ambitions, conflicts, failures, as well as successes, as the astonishing scale and age of the universe were finally established.  Few areas of scientific research have witnessed such drama in the form of ego clashes, priority claims, or failed (or even falsified) theories as that resulting from attempts to measure the universe. Besides giving credit where long overdue, Measuring the Cosmos explains the science behind these achievements in accessible language sure to appeal to astronomers, science buffs, and historians.

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Measuring the Universe
Cosmic Dimensions from Aristarchus to Halley
Albert Van Helden
University of Chicago Press, 1986
Measuring the Universe is the first history of the evolution of cosmic dimensions, from the work of Eratosthenes and Aristarchus in the third century B.C. to the efforts of Edmond Halley (1656—1742).

"Van Helden's authoritative treatment is concise and informative; he refers to numerous sources of information, draws on the discoveries of modern scholarship, and presents the first book-length treatment of this exceedingly important branch of science."—Edward Harrison, American Journal of Physics

"Van Helden writes well, with a flair for clear explanation. I warmly recommend this book."—Colin A. Ronan, Journal of the British Astronomical Association
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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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Mind Of The Universe
Understanding Science & Religion
Mariano Artigas
Templeton Press, 2001

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A Miracle, A Universe
Settling Accounts with Torturers
Lawrence Weschler
University of Chicago Press, 1998
During the past fifteen years, one of the most vexing issues facing fledgling transitional democracies around the world—from South Africa to Eastern Europe, from Cambodia to Bosnia—has been what to do about the still-toxic security apparatuses left over from the previous regime. In this now-classic and profoundly influential study, the New Yorker's Lawrence Weschler probes these dilemmas across two gripping narratives (set in Brazil and Uruguay, among the first places to face such concerns), true-life thrillers in which torture victims, faced with the paralysis of the new regime, themselves band together to settle accounts with their former tormentors.

"Disturbing and often enthralling."—New York Times Book Review

"Extraordinarily moving. . . . Weschler writes brilliantly."—Newsday

"Implausible, intricate and dazzling."—Times Literary Supplement

"As Weschler's interviewees told their tales, I paced agitatedly, choked back tears. . . . Weschler narrates these two episodes with skill and tact. . . . An inspiring book."—George Scialabba, Los Angeles Weekly
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Nature of Man. Regimen in Health. Humours. Aphorisms. Regimen 1–3. Dreams. Heracleitus
On the Universe
Hippocrates and Heracleitus
Harvard University Press

The definitive English edition of the “Father of Medicine.”

Hippocrates, said to have been born in Cos in or before 460 BC, learned medicine and philosophy; traveled widely as a medical doctor and teacher; was consulted by King Perdiccas of Macedon and Artaxerxes of Persia; and died perhaps at Larissa. Apparently he rejected superstition in favor of inductive reasoning and the study of real medicine as subject to natural laws, in general and in individual people as patients for treatment by medicines and surgery. Of the roughly seventy works in the “Hippocratic Collection” many are not by Hippocrates; even the famous oath may not be his. But he was undeniably the “Father of Medicine.”

The works available in the Loeb Classical Library edition of Hippocrates are the following. Volume I: Ancient Medicine. Airs, Waters, Places. Epidemics 1 and 3. The Oath. Precepts. Nutriment. Volume II: Prognostic. Regimen in Acute Diseases. The Sacred Disease. The Art. Breaths. Law. Decorum. Physician (Ch. 1). Dentition. Volume III: On Wounds in the Head. In the Surgery. On Fractures. On Joints. Mochlicon. Volume IV: Nature of Man. Regimen in Health. Humours. Aphorisms. Regimen 1–3. Dreams. Volume V: Affections. Diseases 1–2. Volume VI: Diseases 3. Internal Affections. Regimen in Acute Diseases. Volume VII: Epidemics 2 and 4–7. Volume VIII: Places in Man. Glands. Fleshes. Prorrhetic I–II. Physician. Use of Liquids. Ulcers. Haemorrhoids and Fistulas. Volume IV also contains the fragments of Heracleitus, On the Universe.

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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.”
Nature

“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 Refrigerator and the Universe
Understanding the Laws of Energy
Martin Goldstein and Inge F. Goldstein
Harvard University Press, 1993

C. P. Snow once remarked that not knowing the second law of thermodynamics is like never having read Shakespeare. Yet, while many people grasp the first law of energy, “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed,” few recognize the second, “Entropy can only increase.” What is entropy anyway, and why must it increase? Whether we want to know how a device as simple as a refrigerator works or understand the fate of the universe, we must start with the concepts of energy and entropy.

In The Refrigerator and the Universe, Martin and Inge Goldstein explain the laws of thermodynamics for science buffs and neophytes alike. They begin with a lively presentation of the historical development of thermodynamics. The authors then show how the laws follow from the atomic theory of matter and give examples of their applicability to such diverse phenomena as the radiation of light from hot bodies, the formation of diamonds from graphite, how the blood carries oxygen, and the history of the earth. The laws of energy, the Goldsteins conclude, have something to say about everything, even if they do not tell us everything about anything.

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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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Reporting the Universe
E. L. Doctorow
Harvard University Press, 2003
"The writer," according to Emerson, "believes all that can be thought can be written...In his eyes a man is the faculty of reporting, and the universe is the possibility of being reported." And what writer worth his name, E. L. Doctorow asks, will not seriously, however furtively, take on the universe? Human consciousness, personal history, American literature, religion, and politics--these are the far-flung coordinates of the universe that Doctorow reports here, a universe that uniquely and brilliantly reflects our contemporary scene.
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Revealing the Universe
The Making of the Chandra X-ray Observatory
Wallace Tucker and Karen Tucker
Harvard University Press, 2001

When the first X-ray detectors revealed many places in the universe that are too hot to be seen by optical and radio telescopes, pioneering X-ray astronomers realized they were onto something big. They knew that a large X-ray observatory must be created if they were ever to understand such astonishing phenomena as neutron stars, supernovas, black holes, and dark matter. What they could not know was how monumental in time, money, and effort this undertaking would be. Revealing the Universe tells the story of the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

From the first proposal for a large X-ray telescope in 1970 to the deployment of Chandra by the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1999, this book chronicles the technical feats, political struggles, and personal dramas that transformed an inspired vision into the world's supreme X-ray observatory. With an insider's knowledge and a storyteller's instincts, Wallace and Karen Tucker describe the immense challenges that this project posed for such high-tech industry giants as TRW, Eastman Kodak, and Hughes Danbury Optical Systems (now Raytheon Optical Systems). Their portrayal of the role of NASA is itself an extraordinary case study of multibillion-dollar government decisionmaking, and a cautionary tale for future large space astronomy missions.Revealing the Universe is primarily the story of the men and women whose discoveries, skills, failures, and successes made the Chandra X-ray Observatory possible.

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Ripples of the Universe
Spirituality in Sedona, Arizona
Susannah Crockford
University of Chicago Press, 2021
Ask a random American what springs to mind about Sedona, Arizona, and they will almost certainly mention New Age spirituality. Nestled among stunning sandstone formations, Sedona has built an identity completely intertwined with that of the permanent residents and throngs of visitors who insist it is home to powerful vortexes—sites of spiraling energy where meditation, clairvoyance, and channeling are enhanced. It is in this uniquely American town that Susannah Crockford took up residence for two years to make sense of spirituality, religion, race, and class.

Many people move to Sedona because, they claim, they are called there by its special energy. But they are also often escaping job loss, family breakdown, or foreclosure. Spirituality, Crockford shows, offers a way for people to distance themselves from and critique current political and economic norms in America. Yet they still find themselves monetizing their spiritual practice as a way to both “raise their vibration” and meet their basic needs. Through an analysis of spirituality in Sedona, Crockford gives shape to the failures and frustrations of middle- and working-class people living in contemporary America, describing how spirituality infuses their everyday lives. Exploring millenarianism, conversion, nature, food, and conspiracy theories, Ripples of the Universe combines captivating vignettes with astute analysis to produce a unique take on the myriad ways class and spirituality are linked in contemporary America.
 
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Science, Society, and the Search for Life in the Universe
Bruce Jakosky
University of Arizona Press, 2006
Are we alone in the universe? As humans, are we unique or are we part of a greater cosmic existence? What is life’s future on Earth and beyond? How does life begin and develop? These are age-old questions that have inspired wonder and controversy ever since the first people looked up into the sky. With today’s technology, however, we are closer than ever to finding the answers.

Astrobiology is the relatively new, but fast growing scientific discipline that involves trying to understand the origin, evolution, and distribution of life within the universe. It is also one of the few scientific disciplines that attracts the public’s intense curiosity and attention. This interest stems largely from the deep personal meaning that the possible existence of extraterrestrial life has for so many. Whether this meaning relates to addressing the “Big Questions” of our existence, the possibility of encountering life on other planets, or the potential impact on our understanding of religion, there is no doubt that the public is firmly vested in finding answers.

In this broadly accessible introduction to the field, Bruce Jakosky looks at the search for life in the universe not only from a scientific perspective, but also from a distinctly social one. In lucid and engaging prose, he addresses topics including the contradiction between the public’s fascination and the meager dialogue that exists between those within the scientific community and those outside of it, and what has become some of the most impassioned political wrangling ever seen in government science funding.
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Secrets of the Universe
How We Discovered the Cosmos
Paul Murdin
University of Chicago Press, 2009

Discoveries in astronomy challenge our fundamental ideas about the universe. Where the astronomers of antiquity once spoke of fixed stars, we now speak of whirling galaxies and giant supernovae. Where we once thought Earth was the center of the universe, we now see it as a small planet among millions of other planetary systems, any number of which could also hold life. These dramatic shifts in our perspective hinge on thousands of individual discoveries: moments when it became clear to someone that some part of the universe—whether a planet or a supermassive black hole—was not as it once seemed.

Secrets of the Universe invites us to participate in these moments of revelation and wonder as scientists first experienced them. Renowned astronomer Paul Murdin here provides an ambitious and exciting overview of astronomy, conveying for newcomers and aficionados alike the most important discoveries of this science and introducing the many people who made them. Lavishly illustrated with more than 400 color images, the book outlines in seventy episodes what humankind has learned about the cosmos—and what scientists around the world are poised to learn in the coming decades. Arranged by types of discovery, it also provides an overarching narrative throughout that explains how the earliest ideas of the cosmos evolved into the cutting-edge astronomy we know today. Along the way, Murdin never forgets that science is a human endeavor, and that every discovery was the result of inspiration, hard work, or luck—usually all three.

The first section of Secrets explores discoveries made before the advent of the telescope, from stars and constellations to the position of our own sun. The second considers discoveries made within our own solar system, from the phases of Venus and the moons of Jupiter to the comets and asteroids at its distant frontier. The next section delves into discoveries of the dynamic universe, like gravitation, relativity, pulsars, and black holes. A fourth examines discoveries made within our own galaxy, from interstellar nebulae and supernovae to Cepheid variable stars and extrasolar planets. Next Murdin turns to discoveries made within the deepest recesses of the universe, like quasars, supermassive black holes, and gamma ray bursters. In the end, Murdin unveils where astronomy still teeters on the edge of discovery, considering dark matter and alien life.

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The Size of the Universe
Joseph Cardinale
University of Alabama Press, 2010

The landscape of this novel in stories—Joseph Cardinale’s first book-length work of fiction—is as familiar as childhood yet beguilingly surreal. The question of whether or not the child in the first fiction and the man in the last story are the same person—and whether any person is the same from one moment to the next—is perhaps the book’s main question.

In prose as spare as it is meticulous, The Size of the Universe conjures an elegant labyrinth of time, space, and memory, in which a wavering self, a self on the verge of becoming nothing, seeks a safe haven from the throes of near-religious ecstasy. It is a debut work that is inviting, perplexing, and bold.

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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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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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The Universe and I
Where Science & Spirituality Meet
George F. Dole
Swedenborg Foundation Publishers, 2018
The Universe and I: Where Science & Spirituality Meet offers scholar and theologian George F. Dole’s thought-provoking insights on the dynamic nature of the ongoing science and religion debate. Why are we here? Where are we headed? Dole argues that to understand these questions, we need not only the grounding of science but also the insights of spirit. 
 
As experts continue to work out the relationship between cosmology and human evolution, Dole, who has spent a lifetime making sense of the spiritual world, joins the conversation with a clarity that only he can provide. Shaped primarily as a response to the scientific community, he engages with a wide spectrum of thinkers, including Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, and eighteenth-century polymath Emanuel Swedenborg, just to name a few.

Accessing a wealth of knowledge from across a wide variety of disciplines—philosophy, religion, biology, physics, and more—Dole presents his own model for our physical and spiritual existence. Starting with what we don’t know and what we can observe about the fundamentals of existence, Dole explores “the creative tension between differentiation and integration”—the drive to be individual and yet be united to a greater whole, a tension whose persistent progress since the Big Bang has brought about such gifts as the emergence of life and consciousness.
 
Dole not only presents us with the empirical evidence of science but also provides us with a first-person understanding of the spiritual dimension and how it might inform the way we consider those grand speculations on the meaning of the universe and of life. Reflecting on how life began leads to questions of how we will continue to advance humanity and goodwill for all—both as a species and as individuals striving for personal growth. 
 
Asking the question “How can I, infinitesimal I, have the gall to regard myself as significant in the context of the universe?”, Dole embarks on a journey that spans the life of the universe itself, making every effort along the way to answer this question—for all of us.
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Universe in Creation
A New Understanding of the Big Bang and the Emergence of Life
Roy R. Gould
Harvard University Press, 2018

We know the universe has a history, but does it also have a story of self-creation to tell? Yes, in Roy R. Gould’s account. He offers a compelling narrative of how the universe—with no instruction other than its own laws—evolved into billions of galaxies and gave rise to life, including humans who have been trying for millennia to comprehend it. Far from being a random accident, the universe is hard at work, extracting order from chaos.

Making use of the best current science, Gould turns what many assume to be true about the universe on its head. The cosmos expands inward, not outward. Gravity can drive things apart, not merely together. And the universe seems to defy entropy as it becomes more ordered, rather than the other way around. Strangest of all, the universe is exquisitely hospitable to life, despite its being constructed from undistinguished atoms and a few unexceptional rules of behavior. Universe in Creation explores whether the emergence of life, rather than being a mere cosmic afterthought, may be written into the most basic laws of nature.

Offering a fresh take on what brought the world—and us—into being, Gould helps us see the universe as the master of its own creation, not tethered to a singular event but burgeoning as new space and energy continuously stream into existence. It is a very old story, as yet unfinished, with plotlines that twist and churn through infinite space and time.

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The Universe, Life and Everything
Dialogues on our Changing Understanding of Reality
Sarah Durston and Ton Baggerman
Amsterdam University Press, 2018
Our current understanding of our world is nearly 350 years old. It stems from the ideas of Descartes and Newton and has brought us many great things, including modern science and increases in wealth, health and everyday living standards. Furthermore, it is so ingrained in our daily lives that we have forgotten it is a paradigm, not a fact. There are, however, some problems with it. First, there is no satisfactory explanation for why we have consciousness and experience meaning in our lives. Second, modern-day physics tells us that observations depend on characteristics of the observer at the large, cosmic, and small, subatomic scales. Third, ongoing humanitarian and environmental crises show us that our world is vastly interconnected. Our understanding of reality is expanding to incorporate these issues. In The Universe, Life and Everything . . . Dialogues on our Changing Understanding of Reality, some of the scholars at the forefront of this change, from the fields of physics, psychology, and social sciences, discuss the direction it is taking and its urgency.
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The Universe of Things
On Speculative Realism
Steven Shaviro
University of Minnesota Press, 2014

From the rediscovery of Alfred North Whitehead’s work to the rise of new materialist thought, including object-oriented ontology, there has been a rapid turn toward speculation in philosophy as a way of moving beyond solely human perceptions of nature and existence. Now Steven Shaviro maps this quickly emerging speculative realism, which is already dramatically influencing how we interpret reality and our place in a universe in which humans are not the measure of all things.

The Universe of Things explores the common insistence of speculative realism on a noncorrelationist thought: that things or objects exist apart from how our own human minds relate to and comprehend them. Shaviro focuses on how Whitehead both anticipates and offers challenges to prevailing speculative realist thought, moving between Whitehead’s own panpsychism, Harman’s object-oriented ontology, and the reductionist eliminativism of Quentin Meillassoux and Ray Brassier.

The stakes of this recent speculative realist thought—of the effort to develop new ways of grasping the world—are enormous as it becomes clear that our inherited assumptions are no longer adequate to describe, much less understand, the reality we experience around us. As Shaviro acknowledges, speculative realist thought has its dangers, but it also, like the best speculative fiction, holds the potential to liberate us from confining views of what is outside ourselves and, he believes, to reclaim aesthetics and beauty as a principle of life itself.

Bringing together a wide array of contemporary thought, and evenhandedly assessing its current debates, The Universe of Things is an invaluable guide to the evolution of speculative realism and the provocation of Alfred North Whitehead’s pathbreaking work.

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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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Zwicky
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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