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Clocks in the Sky: The Story of Pulsars (Springer Praxis Books / Popular Astronomy) [Paperback]

Geoff McNamara
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

18 Aug 2008 Springer Praxis Books / Popular Astronomy

Pulsars are rapidly spinning neutron stars, the collapsed cores of once massive stars that ended their lives as supernova explosions.

In this book, Geoff McNamara explores the history, subsequent discovery and contemporary research into pulsar astronomy. The story of pulsars is brought right up to date with the announcement in 2006 of a new breed of pulsar, Rotating Radio Transients (RRATs), which emit short bursts of radio signals separated by long pauses. These may outnumber conventional radio pulsars by a ratio of four to one. Geoff McNamara ends by pointing out that, despite the enormous success of pulsar research in the second half of the twentieth century, the real discoveries are yet to be made including, perhaps, the detection of the hypothetical pulsar black hole binary system by the proposed Square Kilometre Array - the largest single radio telescope in the world.

Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Praxis; 2008 edition (18 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0387765603
  • ISBN-13: 978-0387765600
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 17 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,379,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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From the reviews:

"McNamara … has produced a masterpiece of science writing. … he proceeds to provide vignettes of the key theoretical developments and observational discoveries over the last 75 years that establish pulsars as one of the most important fields in astronomy. … difficult topics such as relativistic effects are so well explained that casual readers will understand the basic principles. This book has … excellent writing, thorough attention to historical accuracy, and good science. This book is hard to put down! Summing Up: Essential. All levels/libraries." (T. D. Oswalt, Choice, Vol. 46 (9), May, 2009)

"The author begins with some background information on the life and death of stars, an introduction to the neutron that is essential, some comments on quasars … . There are now a number of different types of pulsar, some having been found in the most unlikely places, for instance globular pulsars, pulsars with planets, magnetars and multibeams. The presentation is never boring and manages to convey the continued excitement that identifies the subject. I can … recommend it." (Bill Barlow, Astronomy Now, September, 2009)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy read style maintaining adult attitude 20 Jan 2010
This book is well written in a friendly-style that retains respect for the readers' intelligence. This book will appeal to undergraduates and informed popular-science readers. It is technical but absolutely intrigues the reader with the extremes of the pulsar environs.

I find some popular-science books too simplistic and they have the roughage taken out of them. I do not agree with the quote by Hawkins that for every formula in a book a percentage of readers are lost.

I value some maths and figures despite struggling with simple algebraic manipulation.

Diagrams are present, though sparse, more would be welcome. There are numerous pointers to other sources of information.

Springer Praxis are good at this type of book.

A little pricey in this format, I would expect a hardback at this price. This high price may loose some readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, not sure about the title 15 May 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Yes, pulsars are like clocks in the sky and yes, this is the story of pulsars (rapidly rotating neutron stars giving off astonishiningly regular pulses of radiation.) However, my chief concern is that the title may mislead the potential buyer into thinking this book totals more than a large paragraph on their time keeping properties. For example there is no comparison made with the accuracy of atomic clocks. For this, I have deducted one star.

On the positive side, this book charts the discoveries of many perplexing pulsar related phenomena and brings the reader right up to date.....for now.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Superb for an informed reader. 15 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is not intended for readers new to astronomy, a reasonable grounding in science, especially physics helps, but you won't come across and maths.
I found it absorbing and at the end, frustrating- I wanted to keep reading, more and more.
Any suggestions for an equally good read to follow with?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Entry Level Science 14 May 2009
By spin_glass - Published on
This is a good book for those who have an interest in this particular stellar pathology also if you enjoy the type of writer who informs via the anecdote you will again find this an entertaining way to learn. He for example explains through the words of Ms Jocelyn Bell her perspective on not being included in the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the pulsar and from my own point of veiw I was interested to learn of the radio interferometry experiments carried out here in post war Sydney. The book begins with the life cycles of stars that eventually become the subject of this book and then leads in to the link between the subatomic and the nature of the neuton star. I felt this section was a little confused but encourage the prospective reader to 'read on'. A few of the diagrams are misplaced and in one case i can recall, insufficient in regard to explanations. Closing chapters explore the subclasses of the Pulsar as well as the system PSR 1913+16 which became famous through it being a test bed for General Relativity and the subject of another book by McNamara, gravitational waves.
This book I hope will inspire readers to look further into the types and classifications of stars as well as the interesting behaviour that they exhibit.
McNamara's book is thouroughly researched and therefore a reliable book, which is not always the case with popular science.
5.0 out of 5 stars All about Pulsrs and how to detect them. 6 Aug 2012
By George M. Sawyer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fascinating!! I have found this book extraordinarily interesting and informative. It is written so that someone, like me, that is pretty much ignorant of the subject can obtain an overview of the subject. It is written for people who relate to concepts and do not want to be burdened by equations. The historical information is of great interest; One might say that it goes from "In the beginning..." and leads us up to very recent happenings. For anyone who is even casually interested in the subject, I would highly recommend this book. George M. Sawyer, Caltech, 1951. I purchased this book about one year ago from Amazon, and it arrived in perfect condition.
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