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Books of Note Archives

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Michael D. LemonickEcho of the Big BangIn Association with Amazon.com
Echo of the Big Bang
Princeton University Press, 2003, ISBN: 0-691-10278-3, $24.95

A tight-knit, high-powered group of scientists and engineers spent eight years building a satellite designed, in effect, to read the genome of the universe. Launched in 2001, the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) has finally reported in—and it's found things nobody ever expected.

In the early 1990s, the COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) satellite had made crude measurements of the radiation left over from the Big Bang.  What the WMAP group set out to do was essentially to take those measurements to far high precision. For more than a year, the WMAP satellite hovered in the cold of deep space, a million miles from Earth, in an effort to determine whether the science of cosmology has been on the right track for the past two decades. What WMAP was looking for was a barely perceptible pattern of hot and cold spots in the faint whisper of microwave radiation left over from the Big Bang, the event that almost 14 billion years ago gave birth to all of space, time, matter, and energy.

The pattern encoded in those microwaves holds the answers to some of the great unanswered questions of cosmology: What is the universe made of? What is its geometry? How much of it consists of the mysterious dark matter and dark energy that continue to baffle astronomers? How fast is it expanding? And did it undergo a period of inflationary hyper-expansion at the very beginning? WMAP has now perhaps given definitive answers to these mysteries.

E. C. KruppIn Association with Amazon.com
Echoes of the Ancient Skies: The Astronomy of Los Civilizations
Dover, 2003, ISBN: 0-486-42882-6, $19.95 (paperback)

The intriguing world of archaeoastronomy—the study of ancient peoples' observations of the skies and the impact of what they saw on their cultural evolution—is the focus of this unabridged republication of the original 1983 edition published by Harper & Row. Beginning with an explanation of how the sky works and how people have relied upon its guidance for centuries, the author explores ancient and prehistoric observatories, from sites in China and Babylonia to Scotland and Peru. He relates sky god mythology from many cultures, discusses astronomy's influence on funerary rites and other vigils and rituals, and profiles sacred places such as Stonehenge and the kivas of the American Southwest.

Duncan SteelEclipseIn Association with Amazon.com
Eclipse: The Celestial Phenomenon that Changed the Course of History
Joseph Henry Press, 2001, ISBN: 0-309-07438-X, $24.95

Since the dawn of time, eclipses have been perceived as peculiarly portentous events, evoking consternation, fear, and dread -- as well as awe and wonder -- and have had a profound effect upon our cultural development. The Romans marked pivotal battles with references to an eclipse; scientists derived the date of the Crucifixion from biblical mentions of an eclipse. In this sweeping sage of science and civilization, astronomer Duncan Steel explains all you need to know, and then some. For eclipses occur not only within the Sun-Earth-Moon system, but also on Jupiter, Saturn, and many other planets; in double-star systems; and even between galaxies and quasars. Goes beyond the typical eclipse picture book to provide the incredible science and absorbing history behind these curious phenomena.

Fulvio MeliaThe Edge of InfinityIn Association with Amazon.com
The Edge of Infinity: Supermassive Black Holes in the Universe
Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN: 0-521-81405-7, $30

In the past, they were recognized as the most destructive force in nature. Now, following a cascade of astonishing discoveries, supermassive black holes have undergone a dramatic shift in paradigm. Astronomers are finding out that these objects may have been critical to the formation of structure in the early universe, spawning bursts of star formation, planets, and even life itself. They may have contributed as much as half of all the radiation produced after the Big Bang, and as many as 200 million of them may now be lurking through the vast expanses of the observable cosmos. In this non-technical account, the author conveys the excitement generated by the quest to expose what these giant distortions in the fabric of space and time have to say about our origin and ultimate destiny.

Barry ParkerEinsteinIn Association with Amazon.com
Einstein: The Passions of a Scientist
Prometheus Books, 2003, ISBN: 1-59102-063-8, $28

Einstein continues to captivate, not only for his revolutionary scientific insights but also for his complex personality and personal pursuits. In this unique contribution to the Einstein literature, physicist and acclaimed science writer Barry Parker draws on the great scientist's letters and personal papers to explore the intellectual and emotional passions that motivated both his work and his life.

Parker focuses on five aspects of Einstein's emotional nature that had a profound influence on his life and career. First and foremost was his lifelong passion for learning, not only in the fields of physics but also in mathematics and philosophy. Einstein's "second great love" was classical music, especially the music of Mozart. His relationships with women also greatly influenced him. Parker examines his two marriages, his liaisons with other women, and his distant relationship with his two sons from his first marriage. Another lifelong passion was his strong antiwar feelings and advocacy for peace and a chapter is devoted to his efforts to promote the idea of world government. Finally, Parker considers Einstein's obsession with finding a unified theory of physics to explain all the forces of the universe, and his reluctance to accept the indeterminacy of quantum theory. In the opinion of some colleagues, this was a tragedy, for Einstein isolated himself from the rest of the scientific community during the latter part of his life to pursue a lone quest that remained unfulfilled at his death.

Edmund Blair BollesEinstein DefiantIn Association with Amazon.com
Einstein Defiant: Genius Versus Genius in the Quantum Revolution
Joseph Henry Press, 2004, ISBN: 0-309-08998-0, $27.95

A scandal hovers over the history of 20th century physics. Albert Einstein — the century's greatest physicist — was never able to come to terms with quantum mechanics, the century's greatest theoretical achievement. For physicists who routinely use both quantum laws and Einstein's ideas, this contradiction can be almost too embarrassing to dwell on. Yet Einstein was one of the founders of quantum physics and he spent many years preaching the quantum's importance and its revolutionary nature.

The Danish genius Neils Bohr was another founder of quantum physics. He had managed to solve one of the few physics problems that Einstein ever shied away from, linking quantum mathematics with a new model of the atom. This leap immediately yielded results that explained electron behavior and the periodic table of the elements.

Despite their mutual appreciation of the quantum's importance, these two giants of modern physics never agreed on the fundamentals of their work. In fact, they clashed repeatedly throughout the 1920s, arguing first over Einstein's theory of "light quanta" (photons), then over Niels Bohr's short-lived theory that denied the conservation of energy at the quantum level, and climactically over the new quantum mechanics that Bohr enthusiastically embraced and Einstein stubbornly defied.

This contest of visions stripped the scientific imagination naked. Einstein was a staunch realist, demanding to know the physical reasons behind physical events. At odds with this approach was Bohr's more pragmatic perspective that favored theories that worked, even if he might not have a corresponding explanation of the underlying reality. Powerful and illuminating, Einstein Defiant is the first book to capture the soul and the science that inspired this dramatic duel, revealing the personalities and the passions — and, in the end, what was at stake for the world.

Marcia BartusiakEinstein's Unfinished SymphonyIn Association with Amazon.com
Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony: Listening to the Sounds of Space-Time
Joseph Henry Press, October 2000, ISBN: 0309069874, $24.95

A new generation of observatories, now being completed worldwide, will give astronomers not just a new window on the cosmos but a whole new sense with which to explore and experience the heavens above us. Instead of collecting light waves or radio waves, these novel instruments will allow astronomers to at last place their hands upon the fabric of space-time and feel the very rhythms of the universe. Bartusiak captures the excitement as two gravity-wave observatories in Louisiana and Washington State, as well as others in Italy, Germany, and Japan, approach operation and physicists gear up to begin their work to register the long-predicted quakes in space-time. With each chapter, Bartusiak continues her musical metaphor in tracing the story of general relativity, from the time "Maestro" Einstein enters physics, through the "Starlight Waltz" of neutron stars twisting space-time around themselves, to the "Dissonant Chords" of controversy as physicists fight to get their radically new observatories approved, through the "Finale" as a worldwide endeavor in gravity-wave astronomy is launched.

Brian GreeneThe Elegant UniverseIn Association with Amazon.com
The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions and the Quest of the Ultimate Theory
Astrophysics and Space Science Library
Vintage, 2000/2003, ISBN: 0-375-70811-1, $15.95 (paperback)

Brian Greene, one of the world's leading string theorists, peels away the layers of mystery surrounding string theory to reveal a universe that consists of eleven dimensions, where the fabric of space tears and repairs itself, and all matter—from the smallest quarks to the most gargantuan supernovas—is generated by the vibrations of microscopically tiny loops of energy. This paperback edition is preceded by a new Preface; additional resources available on the Nova website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/

Alex Soojung-Kim PangEmpire and the SunIn Association with Amazon.com
Empire and the Sun: Victorian Solar Eclipse Expeditions
Stanford University Press, 2002, ISBN: 0804739269,  $21.95, Paperback.

Examining the rich interplay between science, culture, and British imperial society in the late nineteenth century, this book shows how the organization and conduct of scientific fieldwork was structured by contemporary politics and culture, and how rapid and profound changes in the organization of science, advances in photography, and new printing technology remade the character of scientific observation.

Says Jay M. Pasachoff of Williams College: "This wonderful book describes the interactions of scientists and the public in nineteenth-century Britain by analyzing a series of expeditions sent all over the world to study total solar eclipses. Successfully bringing together a wide variety of topics in a new and interesting way, it will be of great interest to historians, philosophers of science, astronomers, and amateur astronomers."

Nancy Thorndike GreenspanThe End of the Certain WorldIn Association with Amazon.com
The End of the Certain World: The Life & Science of Max Born
Basic Books, 2005, ISBN: 0-7382-0693-8, $26.95

When Max Born won the Nobel Prize in 1954, unspoken vindication was part of the honor. For when Werner Heisenberg received the prize in 1933 -for work done together with Born, as Born's assistant-Born himself was never mentioned. Clearly, that explains Born's relative anonymity compared to his contemporaries-namely Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Oppenheimer, Einstein, and Bohr. Here, for the first time, is the full story of Max Born: teacher to the inventors of the atomic bomb, forced exile from Hitler's Germany, acquaintance of Russian spy Klaus Fuchs, and close friend of Einstein. His role in the "Golden Age of Physics" in the 1920s—most notably in quantum mechanics—helped to shape science and alter history. That Born used his platform as a Nobel laureate to speak out against the moral determinism that pervaded the scientific community at the time—the attitude that consented to the creation of nuclear weapons solely in the name of scientific advancement—makes him that much more significant. A social history and a history of science as well as an intimate biography, The End of the Certain World reveals a great scientist's struggle with morality, politics, war, and obscurity.

Amir D. AczelEntanglementIn Association with Amazon.com
Entanglement: The Greatest Mysteries in Physics
Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002, ISBN: 1-56858-232-3, $25

From the Preface: "This is a book about science, the making of science, the philosophy that underlies science, and mathematical underpinnings of science, the experiments that verify and expose nature's inner secrets, and the lives of the scientists who pursue nature's most bizarre effects...."

Our world, our universe, with its strict rules of cause-and-effect — gravity, even relativity, all abide by a certain definable set of rules — has a parallel in what can only be called the profoundly alien nonhuman universe of quantum mechanics. The study of quanta, very small "packets" of energy, is resulting in the opening of vistas weirder than anything human imagination has yet devised. It is a place where 1 + 1 equals 2, 3 or sometimes does not compute at all. And yet it is real, and has real applications for our simpler world.

William P. Sheehan & Thomas A. DobbinsIn Association with Amazon.com
Epic Moon: A History of Lunar Exploration in the Age of the Telescope
Willmann-Bell, 2001, ISBN: 0-943396-70-0, $29.95

The Moon has always been one of the most obvious and in some ways the most enticing astronomical objects - even from early times, it was Queen of the Night, and the naked eye sees more detail than even the largest telescopes reveal on Mars. As early as 1609 Galileo's first telescope showed the Moon to be another world. The first "race to the Moon" was not undertaken by American astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts but by German and British selenographers in the nineteenth century, who mapped lunar detail so painstakingly that by 1878 it could be said that the earthward hemisphere of the Moon had been depicted in greater detail and with more precision than many parts of the American West in existing maps of the time. It is possible that the names of Schroeter, Beer and Madler, Webb and Schmidt may prove to be as memorable as those of Armstrong, Aldrin, Cernan and Schmitt.

Matthew WatkinsEssential ElementsIn Association with Amazon.com
Essential Elements: Atoms, Quarks, and the Periodic Table
Walker Books, 2003, ISBN: 0-8027-1408-0, $10

Essential Elements offers a fascinating introduction to the complex and beautiful world of the elements, revealing the principal properties and interactions of substances familiar (carbon, oxygen, water) and unfamiliar (rare earth elements and subatomic particles). He explains atomic bonding, radioactivity, and DNA, and present alternative ways of visualizing the periodic table, as well as a succinct synthesis of the Big Bang.

Leslie Alan HorvitzEureka!In Association with Amazon.com

Eureka! Scientific Breakthroughs that Changed the World
John Wiley & Sons, 2002, 0-471-40276-1, $24.95

Since the day Archimedes was believed to have leapt from his bathtub and run naked through the streets of ancient Syracuse shouting "Eureka!" the history of science has been punctuated by moments of true insight and discovery. Most of the "instant" discoveries were, in fact, the combined product of determined effort and exceptional feats of vision. This collection of collection of twelve great moments in science explores the events and thought processes behind each scientific breakthrough. Some of the stories and figures include: Joseph Priestly and the discovery of oxygen; Alexander Fleming and the discovery of penicillin; Charles Townes and the invention of the laser; Issac Newton and the theory of gravity.

Peter EggletonEvolutionary Processes in Binary and Multiple StarsIn Association with Amazon.com
Evolutionary Processes in Binary and Multiple Stars
Cambridge Astrophysics Series No. 40
Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 0-521-85557-8, $120

Binary systems of stars are as common as single stars. Stars evolve primarily by nuclear reactions in their interiors, but a star with a binary companion can also have its evolution influenced by the companion. Multiple star systems can exist in a stable state for millions of years, but can ultimately become unstable as one star grows in radius until it engulfs another. This volume discusses the statistics of binary stars; the evolution of single stars; and several of the most important kinds of interaction between two (and even three or more) stars. A series of mathematical appendices provides a concise but complete account of the mathematics of these processes.

Govert SchillingEvolving CosmosIn Association with Amazon.com
Evolving Cosmos
Cambridge University Press, 2005, ISBN: 0-521-83325-6, $40

A whirlwind journey through time by describing the evolution of the cosmos, from the beginning of space and time fourteen billion years ago, to the creation of the Earth and humankind. Ending with a glance into the distant future of the universe, the book's combination of compelling text and breathtaking photographs provides an impressive vision of the place of man in the cosmos. Govert Schilling is a Dutch science writer and astronomy publicist.

John M. CharapIn Association with Amazon.com
Explaining the Universe: The New Age of Physics
Princeton University Press, 2004, ISBN: 0-691-11744-6, $19.95 (now in paperback)

A panoramic view of the physicist's world as the 21st century opens—a view that is entirely different from the one that greeted the twentieth century. We have learned that the universe is billions of galaxies larger than we imagined—and billions of years older. We know more about how it came to be and what it is. Because of physics, we live in a world of greater danger and more convenience, smaller particles and bigger ideas.

Charap introduces these ideas but spares us the math behind them. After a review of the 20th century's thorough transformation of physics, he checks in on the latest findings from particle physics, astrophysics, chaos theory, and cosmology. His tour includes ongoing efforts to find the universe's missing matter and to account for the first moments after the big bang. Taking readers right to the field's speculative edge, he explains how superstring theory may finally unite quantum mechanics with general relativity to produce a consistent quantum theory of gravity.

Along the way, Charap poses the questions that continue to inspire research. Why is the universe flat? Why can't we forecast weather better? Can Schrodinger's cat really be simultaneously dead and alive? Why does fractal geometry keep showing up in strange places? Might spacetime have eleven dimensions? What does quantum mechanics mean about the nature of our world?

R.A. Hanel, et al., eds.Exploration of the Solar System by Infrared Remote SensingIn Association with Amazon.com
Exploration of the Solar System by Infrared Remote Sensing, 2/e
Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN: 0-521-81897-4, $120

Fully revised, this new edition incorporates the latest technologies, new mission results and scientific discoveries. It also includes a fully updated bibliography to reflect the advances made in this field during the past ten years. The theories of radiative transfer, molecular spectroscopy, and atmospheric physics are first combined to show how it is possible to calculate the infrared spectra of model planetary atmospheres. Next the authors describe the instrumental techniques, in order to assess the effect of real instruments on the measurement of the emerging radiation field. Finally, techniques that allow the retrieval of atmospheric and surface parameters from observations are examined. All planets from Mercury to Pluto and many of their satellites, asteroids and comets are discussed.

Sally Ride & Tam O'ShaughnessyExploring our Solar SystemIn Association with Amazon.com
Exploring Our Solar System
Random House/Crown Books, 2003, ISBN: 0-375-81204-0, $19.95

Ride and O'Shaughnessy have collaborated on three previous children's science books (Voyager: An Adventure to the Edge of the Solar System; The Third Planet: Exploring Earth from Space; and The Mystery of Mars). This definite guide to the solar system takes young readers on a tour of the nine planets and explains the formation, current conditions, and possibility of life on each. Filled with crisp, full-color photographs and lucid prose.

Robert Burnham & Wil TirionExploring the Starry SkyIn Association with Amazon.com
Exploring the Starry Sky
Cambridge University Press, 2004, ISBN: 0-521-80251-2, $11.99 (spiral bound paperback)

Exploring the Starry Sky features large, colorful, user-friendly star maps and includes simple directions for finding all of the major stars and constellations visible from the northern hemisphere. Two star charts display the major sights to be seen from suburban or rural locations, for each season, and more detailed maps spotlight special regions of interest. Additional sections show where the planets are from now until 2006, when to look for meteor showers, and dates and places of upcoming eclipses of the Sun and Moon. One of the "Year's best astronomy books" in the 2005 annual special issue of Astronomy magazine.

Robert P. KirshnerThe Extravagant UniverseIn Association with Amazon.com
The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Cosmos
Princeton University Press, 2002, ISBN: 0-691-05862-8, $29.95

One of the world's leading astronomers tells the story of unlocking an astonishing cosmic secret. Supernova expert Robert Kirshner brings readers inside a lively research team on the quest that led them to an extraordinary cosmological discovery: the expansion of the universe is accelerating under the influence of a dark energy that makes space itself expand.

Measurements of light from exploding stars — some of them halfway across the universe — let these astronomers trace the history of cosmic expansion. The results have been amazing. Instead of a universe slowing down due to gravity as theory predicted, observations reveal a universe whose expansion is speeding up. This measurement of dark energy — a quality of space itself that causes cosmic acceleration — points to a gaping hole in our understanding of fundamental physics.

In 1917, Einstein proposed the "cosmological constant" to explain a static universe. When observations proved that the universe was expanding, he cast this early form of dark energy aside. But recent observations described first-hand in this book show that the cosmological constant — or something just like it — dominates the universe's mass and energy budget and determines its fate and shape.

Warned by Einstein's blunder, and contradicted by the initial results of a competing research team, Kirshner and his colleagues were reluctant to accept their own result. But, convinced by evidence built on their hard-earned understanding of exploding stars, they announced their conclusion that the universe is accelerating in February 1998. Other lines of inquiry and parallel supernova research now support a new synthesis of a cosmos dominated by dark energy but also
containing several forms of dark matter. We live in an extravagant universe with a surprising number of essential ingredients: the real universe we measure is not the simplest one we could imagine.

James KalerExtreme StarsIn Association with Amazon.com
Extreme Stars: At the Edge of Creation
Cambridge University Press, 2001, ISBN: 0-521-40262-X, $34.95

Over the past 200 years, our knowledge of stars has expanded enormously From seeing myriad dots of different brightnesses, we have moved on to measure their distances, temperatures, sizes, chemical compositions, and even ages, finding both young and ancient stars that dwarf our Sun and are dwarfed by it. Unique in its approach, Extreme Stars describes the lives of stars from a new perspective by examining their amazing features. Ten chapters, generously illustrated throughout, explain the natures of the brightest, the largest, the hottest, and the youngest, among other kinds of stars, ending with a selection of the strangest stars the Universe has to offer. Extreme Stars shows how stars develop and die and how each extreme turns into another under the inexorable twin forces of time and gravity.

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Steven WeinbergFacing UpIn Association with Amazon.com
Facing Up: Science and Its Cultural Adversaries
Harvard University Press, 2001, ISBN: 0 674 00647 X, $26

In a recent New York Times profile, James Glanz remarked, "Steven Weinberg is perhaps the world's most authoritative proponent of the idea that physics is hurtling toward a 'final theory,' a complete explanation of nature's particles and forces that will endure as the bedrock of all science forevermore. He is also a powerful writer of prose that can illuminate — and sting...He recently received the Lewis Thomas Prize, awarded to the researcher who best embodies 'the scientist as poet.'" Both the brilliant scientist and the provocative writer are fully present in this book as Weinberg pursues his principal passions, theoretical physics and a deeper understanding of the culture, philosophy, history, and politics of science.

Each of these essays, which span fifteen years, struggles in one way or another the necessity of facing up to the discovery that the laws of nature are impersonal, with no hint of a special status for human beings. Each is preceded by a new introduction that explains its provenance and, if necessary, brings it up to date.

Joseph A. Angelo, Jr.In Association with Amazon.com
The Facts on File Dictionary of Space Technology, revised edition
Checkmark Books, 2004, ISBN: 0-8160-5223-9, $19.95 (paperback)

Contains approximately 1,500 cross-referenced entries that present the basic concepts and phrases used in the evolving science of space, spaceflight, and space technology. Illustrates recent advances and makes accessible nearly every word, concept, and event relating to this branch of science. In addition to 75 line drawings and photographs, includes appendices of International System Units and their equivalents, metric conversion tables, and relevant websites.

Ben BovaFaint Echoes, Distant StarsIn Association with Amazon.com
Faint Echoes, Distant Stars: The Science and Politics of Finding Life Beyond Earth
William Morrow, 2004, ISBN: 0-380-97519.X, $25.95

Can life exist outside the planet Earth? The first question one should ask is: How is it possible for life to exist within Earth's brutal confines? On our own world, creatures existand thrivein environments first thought to be completely alien and inhospitable. From the rare air of the upper atmosphere to the depths of the oceans, life persists amid crushing pressures, crippling heat, and absolute darkness. Bacteria brought to the moon have survived for years without water, at temperatures near absolute zero, and in spite of radiation levels that would kill human observers. With such resilient and tenacious creatures, it seems that life could spring up, and survive, anywhere.

With the development of new technology, such as the space-based telescopes of NASA's Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF), we may not have to leave the comfort of our home world to discover proof of life elsewhere. But the greatest impediment to such an important scientific discovery may not be technological, but political. No scientific endeavor can be launched without a budget, and matters of money are within the arena of politicians. Dr. Bova explores some of the key players and the arguments waged in a debate of both scientific and cultural priorities, showing the emotions, the controversy, and the egos involved in arguably the most important scientific pursuit ever begun.

Paul Halpern, illustrated by Lynette R. CookFaraway WorldsAstroShop
Faraway Worlds: Planets Beyond Our Solar System
Charlesbridge Publishing, 2004, ISBN: 1-57091-616-0/
1-57091-617-9, $16.95 (hardcover)/$6.95 (paperback)

Learn the secrets of planet-hunters as they search for planets beyond our solar system. Is there more to a star than meets the eye? Take a trip to an alien world and encounter wobbling stars, frozen moons, and boiling oceans. Stunning illustrations and cutting-edge science make this book a first in the field. Includes a glossary and index. Available at the ASP's online store, the AstroShop.

João MagueijoFaster than the Speed of LightIn Association with Amazon.com
Faster than the Speed of Light: The Story of a Scientific Speculation
Perseus Publishing, 2003, ISBN: 0-7382-0525-7, $26

The author, a Cambridge University-trained theoretical physicist, puts forth an extraordinarily controversial theory: that light traveled faster in the early days of the universe than it does today.  Magueijo's varying speed of light theory (VSL) solves some of the most intractable problems in cosmology and could also have implications for space travel, black holes, time dilation, and string theory.  Finally, in a deeply ironic twist, VSL could help uncover the grand unified theory that ultimately eluded Einstein.  This is also a book about ideas and their place in the world, about the way scientists work together and things that drive them apart.  It is also the story of one man's unusual attempt to decipher the true nature of the universe.

Paul Murdin & Margaret PenstonThe Firefly Encyclopedia of AstronomyIn Association with Amazon.com
The Firefly Encyclopedia of Astronomy
Firefly Books Ltd., 2004, ISBN: 1-55297-797-8, $59.95

The Firefly Encyclopedia of Astronomy is organized A-Z with concise details on each topic. The pages are profusely illustrated with vivid computer graphics, photography and archival images. Included are accessible contributions by 650 world-leading astronomers covering: history from the Big Bang to present; famous astronomer bios; key space missions since the launch of Sputnik; the work of observatories worldwide.

Clifford Cunningham
The First Asteroid: Ceres 1801-2001
Star Lab Press, 2001
For inquiries: 888-336-9963
E-mail orders: starlab@sympatico.ca
$95 (+$5 shipping) print version, $45 (+$5 shipping) electronic version

To commemorate the 200th anniversary of the discovery of the first asteroid, Ceres, this book presents virtually all the original scientific papers and correspondence related to the discovery and study of Ceres. It begins with the early Greek study of the music of the spheres and ends with the Hubble Space Telescope images of Ceres. Original chapters by Cunningham are followed by works translated from six languages. More than 620 references; illustrations.

Dennis DanielsonThe First CopernicanIn Association with Amazon.com
The First Copernican
Walker & Company, 2006, ISBN: 0-8027-1530-3, $25.95

In the spring of 1539, a twenty-five-year-old mathematics prodigy from Wittenberg named Georg Joachim Rheticus set off on an arduous three-week journey to northern Poland in order to meet the elderly but not-yet-famous amateur astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus. Though he had published nothing on the topic, rumors had abounded for years about Copernicus' revolutionary (many would call it heretical) theory that the Sun, not the Earth, was at the center of the universe, and about a manuscript he had almost completed on the subject.

Intending to stay a month, Rheticus spent three years at Copernicus' side, during which time he persuaded the aging astronomer to complete his manuscript, De revolutionibus, and let him take it to a printer in Germany for publication. Though Rheticus couldn't have known it at the time, his action changed the course of civilization. Without his intervention, Copernicus's seminal work would likely have sunk into oblivion; instead, it ushered in a new understanding of the physical universe, and today is acclaimed as a landmark of scientific and cultural history. For his part, Rheticus dodged a scandal that almost ruined him and, as the founder of modern trigonometry, became a trailblazer of science in his own right.

The first popular account of Rheticus's life, The First Copernican provides a unique prism through which the dawn of the Copernican Revolution shines in fresh and illuminating ways, revealing the intense curiosity and community from which science itself took flight, as well as one man's heroic efforts to defend a new cosmology. Dennis Danielson's superb biography unveils Rheticus in his rightful role as colorful champion of new science at the threshold of the modern world.

Matt Bille & Erika LishockThe First Space RaceIn Association with Amazon.com
The First Space Race: Launching the World's First Satellites
Texas A&M University Press, 2004, ISBN: 1-58544-356-5/1-58544-374-3, $40/$19.95

From 1955 to 1958, American and Soviet engineers battled to launch successfully the world's first satellite, as the first nation to do so would gain advantages in science, the Cold War propaganda contest, and the military balance of power.

The race to orbit featured two American teams led by rival services—the army and the navy—and a Soviet effort so secret that few even knew it existed. Now, Matt Bille and Erika Lishock tell this story from both sides of the Iron Curtain, from the origins of spaceflight theory through the military and political events that shaped the modern world.

Some aspects of this story, such as the navy's NOTSNIK satellite project, are almost unknown. Even some details of well-known programs, such as the appearance of America's pioneering Explorer 1 satellite and the contributions made by its rival, Project Vanguard, are generally misremembered.

In today's era of space shuttles, Mars rovers, and the International Space Station, it is difficult to imagine just how challenging the first steps into space really were. Yet at the end of the race, not only had those first satellites been launched, but the resulting new technologies had forever changed life on Earth.

Fred Espenak & Jean Meeus
Five Millennium Canon of Solar Eclipses: -1999 to +3000 (200 BCE to 3000 CE)
NASA Technical Publication, 2006

The following is a brief description of the NASA Technical Publication "Five Millennium Canon of Solar Eclipses: -1999 to +3000 (NASA/TP-2006-214141)

During the 5,000-year period from -1999 to +3000 (2000 BCE to 3000 CE), Earth will experience 11,898 eclipses of the Sun. The statistical distribution of eclipse types for this interval is as follows: 4,200 partial eclipses, 3956 annular eclipses, 3173 total eclipses and 569 hybrid eclipses

Detailed global maps for each of the 11,898 eclipses delineate the geographic regions of visibility for both the penumbral (partial and umbral or antumbral (total, annular, or hybrid) phases of every event. Modern political borders are plotted to assist in the determination of eclipse visibility. The uncertainty in Earth's rotational period expressed in the parameter delta T and its impact on the geographic visibility of eclipses in the past and future is discussed.

Available on the web in PDF format: http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/SEpubs/5MCSE.html

Ian StewartFlatterlandIn Association with Amazon.com
Flatterland
Perseus Publishing, 2002, ISBN: 0-7382-0675-X, $14 (now in paperback)

In 1884, Edwin Abbott published a novel about mathematics and philosophy that was both a witty satire of Victorian society and a means by which to explore the fourth dimension. Flatland is still considered a tour-de-force. Now, British mathematician and science writer Ian Stewart has written a modern sequel that explores our present understanding of the shape and origins of the universe and the structure of space, time, and matter, as well as modern geometries and their applications.

Wickramasinghe, Burbidge, and Nalikar, eds.Fred Hoyle's UniverseIn Association with Amazon.com
Fred Hoyle's Universe
Kluwer, 2003, ISBN: 1-4020-1415-5, $109

This volume includes papers presented at a commemorative conference held in Cardiff in June 2002. The material divides naturally into several sections: Personal Reminiscences, Stellar Structure and Evolution, Cosmology, Interstellar Matter, Comets and finally Panspermia. Each article pays its own tribute to Fred Hoyle for his inspiration and guidance that led to major breakthroughs in astrophysics and space science throughout the 20th century.

Robert Godwin, Ed.In Association with Amazon.com
Freedom 7: The First US Manned Space Flight (The NASA Mission Reports)
Apogee Books, 2001, ISBN: 1-896522-80-7, $16.95 (paperback w/CD-ROM)

On May 5, 1961, Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr., in his Mercury spacecraft Freedom 7, successfully flew the first US manned suborbital space flight, marking America’s entry into the "space race." Project Mercury, the first manned spaceflight program, was orchestrated by NASA’s Space Task Group and included suborbital and then orbital flights using the Redstone and Atlas boosters. This volume gathers together in one place transcripts, documents, and drawings of the Mercury-Redstone 3 mission, the flight of Freedom 7. The CD-ROM includes the NASA video documentary "Freedom 7," video from the Freedom 7 earth-sky camera, and video of the cabin instrument panel before and during the flight.

Melanie Melton KnockeFrom Blue Moons to Black HolesIn Association with Amazon.com
From Blue Moons to Black Holes: A Basic Guide to Astronomy, Outer Space & Space Exploration
Prometheus Books, 2005, ISBN: 1-59102-288-6, $19 (paperback)

Written specifically for those who have been intrigued by or have been developing a growing interest in astron and space but have had little time to explore the amazing world of exploding stars, distant galaxies, rovers on other planets, and more. The book consists of three sections: Questions and Answers, Quick Facts, and A Brief History of Lunar and Planetary Exploration. Generously illustrated, including a color insert containing, among other pictures, images of Saturn from the Cassini spacecraft. Knocke is the former director of science education and public outreach at the Mount Wilson Observatory and Lowell Observatory.

Roger NewtonFrom Clockwork to Crapshoot: A History of PhysicsIn Association with Amazon.com
From Clockwork to Crapshoot: A History of Physics
Harvard University Press, 2007, ISBN: 978-0674023376, $29.95

Science is about 6000 years old while physics emerged as a distinct branch some 2500 years ago. As scientists discovered virtually countless facts about the world during this great span of time, the manner in which they explained the underlying structure of that world underwent a philosophical evolution. From Clockwork to Crapshoot provides the perspective needed to understand contemporary developments in physics in relation to philosophical traditions as far back as ancient Greece. Roger Newton presents a history of physics from the early beginning to our day -- with the associated mathematics, astronomy, and chemistry. Along the way, he gives brief explanations of the scientific concepts at issue, biographical thumbnail sketches of the protagonists, and descriptions of the changing instruments that enabled scientists to make their discoveries. He traces a profound change from a deterministic explanation of the world -- accepted at least since the time of the ancient Greek and Taoist Chinese civilizations -- to the notion of probability, enshrined as the very basis of science with the quantum revolution at the beginning of the twentieth century. With this change, Newton finds another fundamental shift in the focus of physicists -- from the cause of dynamics or motion to the basic structure of the world. His work identifies what may well be the defining characteristic of physics in the twenty-first century.

C. M. LintonFrom Eudoxus to EinsteinIn Association with Amazon.com
From Eudoxus to Einstein: A History of Mathematical Astronomy
Cambridge University Press, 2004, ISBN: 0-521-82750-7, $95

Since man first looked towards the heavens, a great deal of effort has been put into trying to predict and explain the motions of the sun, moon, and planets. Developments in man's understanding have been closely linked to progress in the mathematical sciences. Whole new areas of mathematics, such as trigonometry, were developed to aid astronomical calculations, and on numerous occasions throughout history, breakthroughs in astronomy have only been possible because of progress in mathematics. This book describes the theories of planetary motion that have been developed through the ages, beginning with the homocentric spheres of Eudoxus and ending with Einstein's general theory of relativity. It emphasizes the interaction between progress in astronomy and in mathematics, showing how the two have been inextricably linked since Babylonian times.

V. Hill, P. François, and F. Primas, eds.From Lithium to UraniumIn Association with Amazon.com
From Lithium to Uranium: Elemental Tracers of Early Cosmic Evolution, IAU Symposium 228
Cambridge University Press, 2005, ISBN: 0-521-85199-8, $100

This volume presents a comprehensive overview of the scientific progress achieved in recent years in our knowledge of the early stages of the production of the elements and their cosmic evolution. It covers the chemical composition of different types of galactic and extra-galactic environments and interprets them in terms of galaxy formation and evolution. Thanks to high quality data collected at the largest ground-based telescopes in the world, our determination and theoretical interpretation of the chemical signatures of different stellar populations and stellar generations has become more accurate. This volume combines observational and theoretical results, and covers almost the entire Periodic Table, to present a clear picture of the main questions that remain unanswered, and suggestions on how to tackle them. The articles were presented at IAU S228, dedicated to the major scientific contributions of Monique and Francois Spite to this field of research.

John PerlinFrom Space to EarthIn Association with Amazon.com
From Space to Earth: The Story of Solar Electricity
Harvard University Press, 2002, ISBN: 0-674-01013-2, $22.95 (now in paperback)

From Space to Earth tracks the evolution of the technology of photovoltaics, the use of solar cells to convert the sun's energy into electricity. John Perlin's research results in a fascinating account of the development of this technology, from its shaky nineteenth-century beginnings mired in scientific controversy to its high-visibility success in the space program, to its current position as a versatile and promising power source.

Andrew Fabian, et al., eds.Frontiers of X-Ray AstronomyIn Association with Amazon.com
Frontiers of X-Ray Astronomy
Cambridge University Press, 2004, ISBN: 0-521-82759-0/0-521-53487-9, $110/$55

X-Ray astronomy has undergone a revolution in recent years. With the launch of two new orbiting observatories, Chandra and XMM-Newton, astronomers are now able to obtain spectra and images at a higher resolution than ever before. New observations have had a major impact on topics ranging from protostars to cosmology. The contributions in this work, by leading authorities in the field, originate from a Royal Society Discussion Meeting that was held to review the most recent results from the current generation of X-ray telescopes, and set them in context.

Michael LightFull MoonIn Association with Amazon.com
Full Moon
Alfred A. Knopf, 1999, ISBN: 0-375-40634-4, $50

The most thrilling of all journeys — the missions of the Apollo astronauts to the surface of the Moon and back — yielded 32,000 extraordinarily beautiful photographs, the record of a unique human achievement. Until recently, only a handful of these photographs had been released for publication; but now, for the first time, has allowed a selection of the master negatives and transparencies to be scanned electronically, rendering the sharpest images of space that we have ever seen. Michael Light has woven 129 of these stunningly clear images into a single composite voyage, a narrative of breathtaking immediacy and authenticity that begins with the launch and is followed by a walk in space, an orbit of the Moon, a lunar landing and exploration, and a return to Earth with an orbit and splashdown. Published on the thirtieth anniversary of Apollo 11 — the first landing on the Moon — this remarkable and mesmerizing volume is, like the voyages it commemorates and re-creates, an experience both intimate and monumental.

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Heino Falcke & Friedrich W. Heil, Eds.The Galactic Black HoleIn Association with Amazon.com
The Galactic Black Hole: Lectures on General Relativity and Astrophysics
Series in High Energy Physics, Cosmology and Gravitation
Institute of Physics Publishing, 2003, ISBN: 0-750-30837-0, $49.99 (paperback)

The supermassive black hole in the center of our Milky Way is the nearest such object and relatively easy to observe and study, with many astrophysical and even general relativistic effects able to be investigated in great detail. These lectures provide a systematic introduction to the physics/astrophysics and mathematics of black holes. Leading international experts provide first hand accounts of the observational and theoretical aspects of this black hole. Topics range from the properties of the Schwarzschild metric and the collapse of the Galaxy to accretion of matter and the emission properties of the Galactic Center black hole.

William H. Waller and Paul W. HodgeGalaxies and the Cosmic FrontierIn Association with Amazon.com
Galaxies and the Cosmic Frontier
Harvard University Press, 2003, ISBN: 0674010795, $29.95

For the past twelve billion years, galaxies have governed the Universe, bringing form to the firmament, light to the void. Each one a giant system of as many as hundreds of billions of stars, the galaxies are the building blocks of the cosmos, and through new data from modern telescopes — including the Hubble Space Telescope — we are discovering dizzying new facts about how they formed, how they evolve, and what they are made of. This book acquaints readers with these facts and findings — and with what they can tell us about the lives of galaxies over cosmic time, from their emergence shortly after the Hot Big Bang to their ongoing gyrations and transmutations.

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.

I. Perez-Fournon, et al., eds.Galaxies at High RedshiftIn Association with Amazon.com
Galaxies at High Redshift
Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN: 0-521-82591-1, $95

At the turn of the 21st century a golden era is occurring in observational cosmology. The new generation of large telescopes, combined with the capabilities of the HST and other space missions, allow astronomers to directly observe galaxy assembly over cosmic time. This timely volume contains the lectures delivered at the XI Canary Islands Winter School of Astrophysics, reviewing both scientific results and the main questions in the field. It covers the study of normal galaxies, distant galaxies, and studies based on far-infrared diagnostics; it reviews quasar absorption lines and the properties of nearby galaxies. Each chapter is written by a world expert in the field.

Galaxy Collider
Virtual Star Ltd. (www.virtualstar.co.uk), 2000, approximately $42

Galaxy Collider is an easy-to-use program that enables anyone with a suitable PC running Windows (95/98/2000/Me/XP) to simulate galaxy collisions. Simulations can be run forward (or backward) in time to visualize how these systems evolve over tens, hundreds or even thousands of millions of years. The results can also be rotated in 3D and viewed from any angle.

Galaxy Collider is distributed on CD-ROM together with a 110 page printed manual. The CD-ROM also contains three catalogues of interacting galaxies: Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies by Halton Arp; A Catalogue of Southern Peculiar Galaxies and Associations by Halton Arp and Barry Madore; The Atlas and Catalogue of Interacting Galaxies by B.A. Vorontsov-Velyaminov.

Of the hundreds of interacting galaxies that appear in these catalogues, only a handful have ever been modeled by astronomers. You can rummage through these images and try to simulate a true likeness using Galaxy Collider. Having done this, you can then see what the system looks like when viewed from any angle, and trace its evolution over hundreds of millions of years from the past into the future.

Galaxy Collider provides many advanced features that make it productive and easy to use, including: 3D simulations and rotation, Multitasking capability, Project Manager, Auto-Save facility, Fully Integrated Help system, Tutorial & Case Studies, User Guide, Astronomy Guide, Hubble Deep Field images, and Galaxy Catalogues.

Roger G. NewtonGalileo's PendulumIn Association with Amazon.com
Galileo's Pendulum: From the Rhythm of Time to the Making of Matter
Harvard University Press, 2004, ISBN: 0-674-01331-X, $22.95

Bored during Mass at the cathedral in Pisa, the seventeen-year-old Galileo regarded the chandelier swinging overhead--and remarked, to his great surprise, that the lamp took as many beats to complete an arc when hardly moving as when it was swinging widely. Galileo's Pendulum tells the story of what this observation meant, and of its profound consequences for science and technology.

The principle of the pendulum's swing--a property called isochronism--marks a simple yet fundamental system in nature, one that ties the rhythm of time to the very existence of matter in the universe. Roger Newton sets the stage for Galileo's discovery with a look at biorhythms in living organisms and at early calendars and clocks--contrivances of nature and culture that, however adequate in their time, did not meet the precise requirements of seventeenth-century science and navigation. Galileo's Pendulum recounts the history of the newly evolving time pieces--from marine chronometers to atomic clocks--based on the pendulum as well as other mechanisms employing the same physical principles, and explains the Newtonian science underlying their function. The book ranges nimbly from the sciences of sound and light to the astonishing intersection of the pendulum's oscillations and quantum theory, resulting in new insight into the make-up of the material universe. Covering topics from the invention of time zones to Isaac Newton's equations of motion, from Pythagoras' theory of musical harmony to Michael Faraday's field theory and the development of quantum electrodynamics, Galileo's Pendulum is a tour through time of the most basic all-pervading system in the world.

Joseph WallaceA Gathering of WondersIn Association with Amazon.com
A Gathering of Wonders: Behind the Scenes at the American Museum of Natural History
St. Martin’s Press in conjunction with the American Museum of Natural History, 2001, ISBN: 0-312-25221-8, $24.95

A backstage tour through the halls and history of the Museum, venturing into ornithology, invertebrates, zoology, entomology, herpetology, and other disciplines, celebrating the treasures and the scientists responsible for bringing them to the light of day. Amazing tales and fascinating finds, both small and large, including: the famous Oviraptor eggs unearthed in the Gobi desert; the Hall of Biodiversity whose trees hold 411,000 model leaves; Katharine Burden’s hunt for the Komodo dragon; and the epic saga of the huge blue whale model.

Ralph A. Alpher & Robert HermanGenesis of the Big BangIn Association with Amazon.com
Genesis of the Big Bang
Oxford University Press, 2001, ISBN: 0-19-511182-6, $29.95

The authors of this volume have been intimately connected with the conception of the Big Bang model since 1947. Following the late George Gamov's ideas in 1942 and more particularly in 1946 that the early universe was an appropriate site for the synthesis of the elements, they became deeply involved in the question of cosmic nucleosynthesis and particularly the synthesis of the light elements. In the course of this work they developed a general relativistic model of the expanding universe with physics folded in, which led in a progressive, logical sequence to our prediction of the existence of a present cosmic background radiation some seventeen years before the observation of such radiation was reported by Penzias and Wilson. In addition, they carried out with James W. Follin, Jr., a detailed study of the physics of what was then considered to be the very early universe, starting a few seconds after the Big Bang, still provides a methodology for studies of light element nucleosynthesis. Because of their involvement, they bring a personal perspective to the subject. They present a picture of what is now believed to be the state of knowledge about the evolution of the expanding universe and delineate the story of the development of the Big Bang model as they have seen and lived it from their own unique vantage point.

Michael J. WestA Gentle Rain of StarlightIn Association with Amazon.com
A Gentle Rain of Starlight: The Story of Astronomy on Mauna Kea
Island Heritage Publishing, 2006, ISBN: 0-93154-899-3, $13.99

"Construction of a road to the summer of Mauna Kea began in April 1964 and was completed in a few weeks. Two months later, with funding from NASA, a small prefabricated observatory with a 0.3-meter telescope inside was placed on Pu'u Poli'ahu, one of the highest peaks on the mountain. Nighttime observations exceeded expectations...In July of that year Gerard Kuiper declared enthusiastically, 'This mountain is probably the best site in the world–I repeat in the world–from which to study the moon, the planets and the stars....It is a jewel! This is the place where the most advanced and powerful observations from this Earth can be made.'" While it is primarily about astronomy at the mountain's summit and thirteen of the biggest and most sophisticated telescopes ever built, the book also touches upon the cultural significance of the mountain to Native Hawaiians and the mountain's history and the controversy over its future. Full-color photographs, most taken by the author, with many others courtesy of the Mauna Kea observatories, Hawaii State Archives, NASA and other photographers.

Tander EdisThe Ghost in the UniverseIn Association with Amazon.com
The Ghost in the Universe: God in Light of Modern Science
Prometheus Books, 2002, ISBN: 1573929778, $29, Hardback.

Is there a God, or a spiritual reality beyond nature? Physicist Taner Edis takes a fresh look at this age-old question, focusing on what we have learned about our world rather than on traditional metaphysical disputes. Edis uses the results of natural science to present a world where complexity, intelligence, and even the sublime heights of religious experience emerge from what is ultimately material and random. Sympathetically criticizing Muslim and New Age perspectives, as well as Jewish and Christian arguments, he argues that a thoroughgoing naturalism leads to a much more powerful explanation of our world.

Charles PellegrinoGhosts of VesuviusIn Association with Amazon.com
Ghosts of Vesuvius: A New Look at the Last Days of Pompeii, How Towers Fall, and Other Strange Connections
William Morrow, 2004, ISBN: 0380973103, $25.95

Employing volcano physics, the author shows that the Vesuvius eruption was one thousand times more powerful than the bomb that leveled Hiroshima, bringing to vivid life the frightful majesty of that volcanic apocalypse. Yet Pellegrino digs deeper, exploring fascinating comparisons and connections to other catastrophic events throughout history, in particular the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. As one of the world's only experts on downblast and surge physics, he was invited to Ground Zero to examine the site and compare it with devastation wreaked by Vesuvius, in the hope of saving lives during future volcanic eruptions. In doing so, he offers us a poignant and unforgettable glimpse into the final moments of our own "American Vesuvius."

W. Patrick McCrayGiant TelescopesIn Association with Amazon.com
Giant Telescopes: Astronomical Ambition and the Promise of Technology
Harvard University Press, 2004, ISBN: 0-674-01147-3, $45
Harvard University Press, 2006, ISBN: 0674-01996-2, $18.95

Every night, astronomers use a new generation of giant telescopes at observatories around the world to study phenomena at the forefront of science. By focusing on the history of the Gemini Observatory—twin 8-meter telescopes located on mountain peaks in Hawaii and Chile—Giant Telescopes tells the story behind the planning and construction of modern scientific tools, offering a detailed view of the technological and political transformation of astronomy in the postwar era.

Drawing on interviews with participants and archival documents, W. Patrick McCray describes the ambitions and machinations of prominent astronomers, engineers, funding patrons, and politicians in their effort to construct a modern facility for cutting-edge science—and to establish a model for international cooperation in the coming era of "megascience." His account details the technological, institutional, cultural, and financial challenges that scientists faced while planning and building a new generation of giant telescopes. Besides exploring how and why scientists embraced the promise and potential of new technologies, he considers how these new tools affected what it means to be an astronomer.

John Casti & Werner DePauliGödel: A Life of LogicIn Association with Amazon.com
Gödel: A Life of Logic
Perseus Publishing, 2001, ISBN: 0-7382-0518-4, $16.50 (now available in paperback)

Shattering hopes that logic would, in the end, allow us a complete understanding of the universe, Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem not only revolutionized mathematics, but also impacted the wider fields of science and philosophy. From his childhood in Monrovia and his later friendship with Albert Einstein, to his participation in the famed Vienna Circle, and career at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, Casti and DePauli offer the first popular biography of this strange, fascinating, and brilliant individual.

Douglas Heggie and Piet Hut
The Gravitational Million-Body Problem: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Star Cluster DynamicsThe Gravitational Million-Body ProblemIn Association with Amazon.com
Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN: 0-521-77486-1, $50 (paperback)

The globular star clusters of the Milky Way contain hundreds of thousands of stars held together by gravitational interactions, and date from the time when the Milky Way was forming. This text, suitable for grad students and researchers, describes the theory astronomers need for studying globular star clusters. The gravitational million-body problem is an idealized model for understanding the dynamics of a cluster with a million stars. After introducing the million-body problem from various viewpoints, the book systematically develops the tools needed for studying the million-body problems in nature, and introduces the most important theoretical models.

 

Bernard F. SchutzGravity from the Ground UpIn Association with Amazon.com
Gravity from the Ground Up
Cambridge University Press, 2004, ISBN: 0-521-45506-5, $45

From the Preface: "Gravity is the one force of Nature that operates everywhere; it controls the effects of all the other forces where ever they act; it regulates countless natural clocks, from the orbits of planets of the lifetimes of stars. Gravity rules the most violent places in the universe—quasars, pulsars, gamma-ray bursters, supernovaeand the most quietblack holes, molecular clouds, the cosmic microwave background radiation. Today gravity binds stars and galaxies and clusters of galaxies together, but much earlier it pushed the Universe violently apart. Gravity explains the uniformity of the Universe on very large scales and its incredible variety on small scales. Gravity even laid the path toward the evolution of life itself. If we understand how gravity works, then we begin to understand the Universe."

Serge Brunier, with constellation photography by Akira FujiiThe Great Atlas of the StarsIn Association with Amazon.com
The Great Atlas of the Stars
Firefly Books Ltd., 2001, ISBN: 1-55209-610-6, $49.95

Large in size (10" x 15") and spiral bound to lie flat, the guide offers a full page of data about each star group, followed by a full-page color photograph. Between these two pages is a mylar page that, when laid over the photograph, circles and labels the major stars, clusters, and nebulas. When this transparency is flipped to the other side, the reader can see the constellation and its stars just as they appear in the sky. Contains important tips on how to locate constellations, what equipment to use, where and when to look for stars, what conditions are optimal, and what situations to avoid for the best sightings. There is also a complete listing of the brightest stars, a glossary, an index, and a two-page spread of the constellations that can be seen from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Discover stars, nebulas, and galaxies with almost 200 spectacular photographs and illustrative drawings.

Serge Brunier & Anne-Marie LagrangeGreat Observatories of the WorldIn Association with Amazon.com
Great Observatories of the World
Firefly Books Ltd., 2005, ISBN: 1-55407-055-4, $59.95

It has been almost 400 years since the November night in 1609 when Galileo Galilei pointed a telescope at the moon and revolutionized the practice of astronomy. From that day to this, the composition of the heavens has become increasingly clear. These telescopes and those places are the subject of Great Observatories of the World. This large (10 1/4 x 14 1/2), heavily illustrated book looks at astronomy today by telling the stories of 36 of the Earth’s preeminent observatories, of 10 space-based observatories such as the Hubble and the Chandra, and of 11 “telescopes of the future,” including the Corot, the Herschel and the Max Planck Surveyor.

William H. CropperGreat PhysicistsIn Association with Amazon.com
Great Physicists: The Life and Times of Leading Physicists from Galileo to Hawking
Oxford University Press, December 2001, ISBN: 0-19-513748-5, $35

A lively history of modern physics, as seen through the lives of thirty men and women from the pantheon of physics. Such giants as Galileo and Isaac Newton, Marie Curie and Ernest Rutherford, up to more recent figures such as Richard Feynman and Stephen Hawkins. As Cropper captures their personalities, he also offers vivid portraits of their great moments of discovery, their bitter feuds, their relations with family and friends, their religious beliefs and education. In addition, since scientists in a particular field often inspire those who follow, the author has grouped these biographies by discipline-mechanics, thermodynamics, particle physics, and so on-each section beginning with a historical overview.

Prabhakar GondhalekarThe Grip of GravityIn Association with Amazon.com
The Grip of Gravity: The Quest to Understand the Laws of Motion and Gravitation
Cambridge University Press, 2001, ISBN: 0-521-80316-0, $27.95

Our world is ruled by two sets of laws: the laws of quantum mechanics and the laws of gravity. While the laws of gravity describe the largest structures of our universe the universe itself, the laws of quantum mechanics describe the smallest structures such a molecules and atoms. One of the great puzzles of the 20th century is that these two sets of laws, each employing a different set of mathematics and each making astonishingly accurate predictions in its own regime, should be so profoundly different and incompatible. In tracing the gradual unfolding of our understanding of the laws of motion and universal gravitation and the associated concepts of space, time, and relativity, the author journeys through subsequent centuries, identifying the setbacks, profound insights, and flashes of inspiration that have punctuated the search for laws of motion and gravitation. Beginning with Aristotle and concluding with Planck, Gondhalekar outlines a "genealogy" of gravity and elucidates previous explanations that have shaped the most recent development in the field, string theory.

Sir Patrick MooreGuide to Stars and PlanetsIn Association with Amazon.com
Guide to Stars and Planets, New Edition
Firefly Books, 2005, ISBN: 1-55407-053-8, $19.95 (paperback)

The Guide to Stars and Planets is a major new edition of Sir Patrick Moore's classic guide, featuring detailed maps of the moon and constellations, plus a host of recommendations on what to look for and when. In a compact format, this book is illustrated with charts, maps, and stunning photographs from the world's finest Earth- and space-based telescopes. A concise introduction offers a practical guide to telescopes, home observatories and astronomical photography for amateur astronomers. Detailed entries describe the following astronomical objects, organized by the closest to the furthest from Earth. The book highlights the most interesting objects that can be observed using the naked eye, binoculars or telescope. Detailed moon maps and charts identify significant features, and practical tips explain how to observe the sun safely.

Roel SniederA Guided Tour of Mathematical Methods for the Physical SciencesIn Association with Amazon.com
A Guided Tour of Mathematical Methods for the Physical Sciences, 2/e
Cambridge University Press, 2004, ISBN: 0-521-83492-9, $60

In contrast to traditional textbooks for students and professionals in the physical sciences, this book presents its material in the form of problems. The second edition contains new chapters on dimensional analysis, variational calculus, and the asymptotic evaluation of integrals. The book can be used by undergraduates and lower-level graduate students. Contents: 1. Introduction; 2. Dimensional analysis; 3. Power series; 4. Spherical and cylindrical coordinates; 5. The gradient; 6. The divergence of a vector field; 7. The curl of a vector field; 8. The theorem of Gauss; 9. The theorem of Stokes; 10. The Laplacian; 11. Conservation laws; 12. Scale analysis; 13. Linear algebra; 14. The Dirac delta function; 15. Fourier analysis; 16. Analytic functions; 17. Complex integration; 18. Green's functions: principles; 19. Green's functions: examples; 20. Normal modes; 21. Potential theory; 22. Cartesian tensors; 23. Perturbation theory; 24. Asymptotic evaluation of integrals; 25. Variational calculus; 26. Epilogue, on power and knowledge; References.

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Steve B. HowellHandbook of CCD Astronomy, 2/eIn Association with Amazon.com
Handbook of CCD Astronomy, 2/e
Cambridge Observing Handbooks for Research Astronomers #5
Cambridge University Press, 2006, ISBN: 0-521-61762-6, $39.99

Charge-Coupled Devices (CCDs) are the state-of-the-art detector in many fields of observational science. Updated to include all of the latest developments in CCDs, this second edition of the Handbook of CCD Astronomy is a concise and accessible reference on all practical aspects of using CCDs. Starting with their electronic workings, it discusses their basic characteristics and then gives methods and examples of how to determine these values. While the book focuses on the use of CCDs in professional observational astronomy, advanced amateur astronomers, and researchers in physics, chemistry, medical imaging, and remote sensing will also find it very valuable. Tables of useful and hard-to-find data, key practical equations, and new exercises round off the book.

Duncan Lorimer and Michael KramerHandbook of Pulsar AstronomyIn Association with Amazon.com
Handbook of Pulsar Astronomy
Cambridge Observing Handbooks for Research Astronomers Series
Cambridge University Press, 2004, ISBN: 0-521-82823-6, $75

Radio pulsars are rapidly rotating highly magnetized neutron stars. Studies of these fascinating objects have provided applications in solid-state physics, general relativity, galactic astronomy, astrometry, planetary physics and even cosmology. Most of these applications and much of what we know about neutron stars are derived from single-dish radio observations using state-of-the-art receivers and data acquisition systems. This comprehensive book is a unique resource that brings together the key observational techniques, background information, and a review of the latest results, including the recent discovery of a double pulsar system. Useful software tools are provided which can be used to analyze example data made available on a related website.

Anthony AshtonIn Association with Amazon.com
Harmonograph: A Visual Guide to the Mathematics of Music
Walker Books, 2003, ISBN: 0-8027-1409-9, $10

During the 19th century, a remarkable scientific instrument known as a harmonograph revealed the beautiful patterns found in music. Harmonograph is an introduction to the evolution of simple harmonic theory, from the discoveries of Pythagoras to diatonic tuning and equal temperament. Beautiful drawings show the octave as triangle, the fifth as pentagram; diagrams show the principles of harmonics, overtones, and the monochord.

Victor StengerHas Science Found God?In Association with Amazon.com
Has Science Found God? The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe
Prometheus Books, 2003, ISBN: 1-59102-018-2, $30

A critical review of the attempts of many contemporary theologians and some scientists to resurrect failed natural theologies in new guises. Whether these involve updated arguments from design, "anthropic" coincidences, or modern forms of deism, Stenger clearly shows that nothing in modern science requires supernatural explanation. He offers naturalistic explanations for empirical observations that are frequently given theistic interpretations: for example, that information in the universe implies an intelligent designer, that a universe with a beginning requires a Creator, and that the elegant laws of physics suggest a transcendent realm. He shows that alleged spiritual, nonmaterial phenomena do not lie beyond the experimental reach of physics.

Richard BaumThe Haunted ObservatoryIn Association with Amazon.com
The Haunted Observatory: Curiosities from the Astronomer's Cabinet
Prometheus Books, June 2007, ISBN: 978-1-59102-512-2, $28

For many centuries observers of the night sky interpreted the moving planets and the surrounding starry realms in terms of concentric crystalline spheres, in the center of which hung the Earth–the hub of creation. But with the discoveries of Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton, astronomers were suddenly struck by a momentous truth: the solar system was neither small nor intimate, but extended an unfathomable distance toward countless even more distant stars. The endless possibilities of these astounding developments fired scientists' imaginations, leading both to further discoveries and to flights of fancy.

While newly discovered facts are important and interesting, the quaint curiosities and spectral "ghosts" that led scientists astray have a fascination of their own. This is the subject of astronomer Richard Baum in this elegant narrative about the mysteries and wonders of celestial exploration. The fabled "mountains of Venus," a "city in the moon," ghostly rings around Uranus and Neptune, bright inexplicable objects seen near the sun, and the truth behind Coleridge's "Star dogged Moon" in his famous poem about the Ancient Mariner–these are just some of the intriguing twists and turns that astronomers took while investigating our starry neighbors. Baum vividly conveys the romance of astronomy at a time when the vistas of outer space were a new frontier and astronomers, guided only by imagination and analogy, set forth on uncharted seas and were haunted for a lifetime by marvels both seen and imagined.

Neil CominsThe Hazards of Space TravelIn Association with Amazon.com
The Hazards of Space Travel: A Tourist's Guide
Villard Books/Random House, 2007, ISBN: 978-1-4000-6597-4, $19.95

With the opening of the International Space Station at the start of this century and Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic company planning to take people above the Earth's atmosphere next year, widespread space travel may soon leave the realm of science fiction. But space isn't Cancún. Travelers will live life on a razor's edge, faced with potential disasters, from the thunderous liftoff to the unpredictable volcanic eruptions on Io, Jupiter's most spectacular moon; from the high-speed impact of pebble-sized micrometeorites to the crumbling of a comet's surface beneath your feet. Physicist and astronomer Neil F. Comins, Ph.D., has written a hands-on guide to outer space for potential tourists and armchair travelers. Bringing to life the hard science are the fictional log entries of an imaginary colleague from the future, astronaut Mack Richardson. Together they reveal the risks and challenges that await tourists in the days they would spend orbiting the Earth, the weeks required for a trip to the Moon, and the years needed to go anywhere else in the solar system when the sky's no longer the limit.

Neil F. CominsHeavenly ErrorsIn Association with Amazon.com
Heavenly Errors: Misconceptions About the Real Nature of the Universe
Columbia University Press, 2001, ISBN: 0-231-11644-6, $27.95

One of the great paradoxes of modern times is that the more scientists understand the natural world, the more we discover that our everyday beliefs about it are wrong. Astronomy, in particular, is one of the most misunderstood scientific disciplines. With the participation of thousands of undergraduate students, Neil F. Comins has identified and classified, by origin and topic, over 1,700 commonly held misconceptions. Heavenly Errors provides access to all of them and explores many, including: Black holes suck in everything around them; the Sun shines by burning gas; comets have tails trailing behind them; the Moon alone causes tides; and, Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, is the hottest planet.

David H. DeVorkinHenry Norris RussellIn Association with Amazon.com
Henry Norris Russell: Dean of American Astronomers
Princeton University Press, 2001, 0-691-04918-1, $55

Henry Norris Russell lived in two universes: that of his Presbyterian forebears and that of his science. He, more than any American of his generation, worked to turn an observation-centered discipline into a theory-driven pursuit centered on physics. Today, professional and amateur astronomers alike know Russell for the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, the playing field for much of stellar astrophysics, as well as for his work on the evolution of stars and the origin of the solar system. But of far greater importance than his own research, which was truly remarkable in its own right, is Russell's stamp on the field as a whole. Functioning as a "headquarters scientist"--some called him General--Russell was an astronomer without a telescope. Yet he marshaled the data of the Hales and the Pickerings of the world, injected theory into mainstream astronomy, and brought atomic physics to its very core, often sparking controversy along the way. empirically minded. Dean of American Astronomers interweaves personal and scientific history to illuminate how Russell's privileged Presbyterian family background, his education at Princeton and Cambridge, and his personal inclinations and attachments both served and were at odds with his campaign to modernize astronomy.

Stephen James O'MearaHerschel 400 Observing GuideIn Association with Amazon.com
Herschel 400 Observing Guide
Cambridge University Press, 2007, ISBN: 987-0-521-85893-9, $65

The Herschel 400 is a list of 400 galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters, picked from over 2,500 deep-sky objects discovered and catalogued by the great eighteenth-century astronomer Sir William Herschel and his sister Caroline. It comprises 231 galaxies, 107 open clusters, 33 globular clusters, 20 planetary nebulae, 2 halves of a single planetary nebula, and 7 bright nebulae. In this guide Steve O'Meara takes the observer through the list, season by season, month by month, night by night, object by object. He works through the objects in a carefully planned and methodical way, taking in some of the most dramatic non-Messier galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters in the night sky. Ideal for astronomers who have tackled the Messier objects, this richly illustrated guide will help the amateur astronomer hone their observing skills.

Michael HoskinThe Herschel Partnership
The Herschel Partnership, as viewed by Caroline
Science History Publications Ltd. (www.shpltd.co.uk), 2003, ISBN: 0-905193-05-9, $40 + $10 airmail

The partnership between William Herschel (1738-1822) and his sister Caroline (1750-1848) transformed astronomy from the study of the solar system, with the stars as little more than a backcloth, to the exploration of the stellar system, the nebulae, and the cosmos as a whole. This book examines the partnership from the viewpoint of Caroline, and reveals the sacrifices she was called on to make and the effects these had on her.

John C. TaylorIn Association with Amazon.com
Hidden Unity in Nature’s Laws
Cambridge University Press, 2001, ISBN: 0-521-65938-8, $24.95 (paper)

As physics has progressed through the ages, it has succeeded in explaining more and more diverse phenomena with fewer and fewer underlying principles. By tracing the development of major concepts in physics from the ancient Greeks up to the present, Taylor seeks to explain how this understanding has developed by periodically uncovering unexpected "hidden unities" in nature.

Timothy Paul SmithHidden WorldsIn Association with Amazon.com
Hidden Worlds: Hunting for Quarks in Ordinary Matter
Princeton University Press, 2003, 0-691-05773-7, $24.95

No one has ever seen a quark. Yet physicists seem to know quite a lot about the properties and behavior of these ubiquitous elementary particles. Here a top researcher introduces us to a fascinating but invisible realm that is part of our everyday life. Timothy Smith tells us what we know about quarks — and how we know it.

Though the quarks that make science headlines are typically laboratory creations generated under extreme conditions, most quarks occur naturally. They reside in the protons and neutrons that make up almost all of the universe's known matter, from human DNA to distant nebulae, from books and tables to neutron stars. Smith explains what these quarks are, how they act, and why physicists believe in them sight unseen. How do quarks arrange themselves? What other combinations can nature make? How do quarks hold nuclei together? What else is happening in their hidden worlds? It turns out that these questions can be answered using a few simple principles, such as the old standby: opposites attract. With these few principles, Smith shows how quarks dance around each other and explains what physicists mean when they refer to "up" and "down" quarks and talk about a quark's color, flavor, and spin.

Smith also explains how we know what we know about these oddly aloof particles, which are eternally confined inside larger particles. He explains how quark experiments are mounted and how massive accelerators, targets, and detectors work together to collect the data that scientists use to infer what quarks are up to.

Paul HodgeHigher than EverestIn Association with Amazon.com
Higher than Everest: An Adventurer's Guide to the Solar System
Cambridge University Press, 2001, ISBN: 0-521-65133-6, $27.95

The Solar System abounds with weird and wonderful places to explore; astronomer Paul Hodge provides a virtual tour of some of the most spectacular. Climb Mars' Mt. Olympus, much higher than Everest, or climb Venus' precipitous and scorching Mt. Maxwell. Explore the Moon's Alpine Valley, or a table mountain on Io. Brave the snows of Saturn's rings and Miranda's incredibly high, icy cliff. Descend a fabulous canyon on Mars, dwarfing the Earth's Grand Canyon. Over 100 full color illustrations, including close-ups of planetary features.

F. Richard Stephenson and David A. GreenIn Association with Amazon.com
Historical Supernovae and their Remnants
Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN: 0-19-85-766-6, $110 (currently out of stock)

Reviews both the historical observations of supernovae seen in our galaxy over the last two millennia and recorded in East Asia (China, Japan and Korea), Europe, and the Arabic dominions, together with modern observations of the remnants of these supernovae.

Henry C. KingThe History of the TelescopeIn Association with Amazon.com
The History of the Telescope
Dover, 2003, ISBN: 0-486-43265-3, $24.95 (paperback)

The History of the Telescope relates not only the stories of early inventors and astronomers, but also the rarely recorded details of the instruments themselves and their makers. The author bases his accounts primarily on first-hand sources—the letters, memoirs, papers and treatises of the intellects (Bacon, Galileo, Newton); innovators (Tycho Brahe, Huyens, Hooke, Herschel); 17th century Italian telescope makers (Campani and Divini); great London instrument artists (Graham, Dollard, Ramsden); the experimentors (Foucault and Brashear); and the modern-day successors of these men and their achievements. Replication of the work first published by Charles Griffith & Co. in 1955.

Janna LevinHow the Universe Got Its SpotsIn Association with Amazon.com

How the Universe Got Its Spots: Diary of a Finite Time in a Finite Space
Princeton University Press, April 2002, 0-691-09657-0, $22.95

Levin’s diary of unsent letters to her mother describes what we know about the shape and extent of the universe, about its beginning and its end. She grants access to the astounding finds of contemporary theoretical physics and makes tangible the contours of space and time–those very real curves along which apples fall and planets orbit. She explains the geometry of the universe now coming into focus–a strange map of space filled with black holes, chaotic flows, time warps, and invisible strings. Levin advances the controversial idea that this map is edgeless but finite–that the universe is huge but not unending–a radical revelation that would provide the ultimate twist to the Copernican revolution by locating our precise position in the Cosmos.

As she recounts our attempt to understand the universe, Levin tells her highly personal and utterly original story as a scientist isolated by her growing knowledge: "... I’d like to describe what I can see from here, so you can look with me and ease the solitude...Consider this a kind of diary from my social exile as a roaming scientist. An offering of little pieces of the little piece I have to offer."

Michael A. CovingtonHow to Use a Computerized TelescopeIn Association with Amazon.com
How to Use a Computerized Telescope: Practical Amateur Astronomy, Volume 1
Cambridge University Press, 2002, ISBN: 0-521-00790-9, $30 (paperback)

Describes how to get a computerized telescope up-and-running, and how to embark on a program of observation. Michael Covington explains in detail how the sky moves, how a telescope tracks it, and how to get the most out of any computerized telescope. Early chapters explain how to test your telescope's optics, choose eyepieces and accessories, take pictures through your telescope, and diagnose operational problems. The second half then gives detailed instructions for three popular telescopes: the Meade LX200, Celestron NexStar 5 and 8, and Meade Autostar (ETX and LX90).

Robin KerrodHubble: The Mirror on the UniverseIn Association with Amazon.com
Hubble: The Mirror on the Universe
Firefly Books, 2003, ISBN: 1-55297-781-1, $35

High above the dirty window of Earth's atmosphere, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) enjoys a clear view of the universe. Hubble contains the most images published in a single volume and is accompanied by Robin Kerrod's clear and concise text explaining the fascinating history of astronomy and the development of the HST. Covers the observable universe in six sections: Stars in the Firmament, Stellar Death and Destruction, Gregarious Galaxies, The Expansive Universe, Solar Systems, and The Heavenly Wanderers.

C. D. AndriesseHuygens: The Man Behind the PrincipleIn Association with Amazon.com
Huygens: The Man Behind the Principle
Cambridge University Press, 2005, ISBN: 0-521-85090-8, $90

This biography on Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) describes in detail how he arrived at discoveries and inventions often wrongly ascribed to Newton. The great seventeenth-century Dutch mathematician and physicist played a key role in the 'scientific revolution' and the Huygens Principle on the wave theory of light helped establish his reputation. Moreover, the discovery of Saturn's rings and the invention of the pendulum clock made him so famous that he was invited to be the first director of the French Academy of Science.

John S. RigdenIn Association with Amazon.com
Hydrogen: The Essential Element
Harvard University Press, 2003, ISBN: 0-674-01252-6, $15.95 (paperback)

Seduced by simplicity, physicists find themselves endlessly fascinated by hydrogen, the simplest of atoms. The allure of hydrogen, crucial to life and critical to scientific discovery, is at the center of this book, which tells a story that begins with the big bang and continues to unfold today. In this biography of hydrogen, John Rigden shows how this singular atom, the most abundant in the universe, has helped unify our understanding of the material world from the smallest scale, the elementary particles, to the largest, the universe itself.

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