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Darkness at Night: A Riddle of the Universe Hardcover – 1 Jul 1987

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; annotated edition edition (1 July 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674192702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674192706
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 25 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,038,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Edward Harrison, is Distinguished Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A well-written story of a mystery most people never think about 7 Jan. 2008
By James Huffman - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been something of a minor astronomy geek all of my life, but until a few years ago, I'd never thought of the riddle we usually call "Olbers' paradox": if the universe is infinite, and contains an infinite number of stars, why is the sky dark at night? In other words, why is every spot in the night (or day) sky not filled with stars, if starlight should be coming at us from every point.

I first encountered this when reading a piece by a young-earth astronomer, and have been fascinated by it ever since.

This is a problem that goes back at least to Aristotle. Dr. Olbers (an ophthalmologist who was born in 1758) merely gave a name to this problem. And while if you've never thought about it, the issue may sound trivial, it's not. There are even some who consider this one of the primary concerns for cosmology.

Edward Harrison has done a bang-up job in covering this question. Harrison is a professor of physics and astronomy -- fields not noted for their lucid writing style -- but he writes clearly, interestingly, and well. He combines the ability to write well with a thorough (obviously) knowledge of the subject of which he's writing. It's a good read, a good well-written overview, and accessible to even a relatively ignorant lay reader like myself. It's a fun read, too.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Why is the sky dark at night? 12 Jun. 2013
By CharlieO3 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Most people know this puzzle as Olber's Paradox. Edward Harrison says this is not a paradox, but a riddle - because it has a correct answer. Harrison takes the reader on an enjoyable historical survey of our changing views of the universe, in order to help one discover the real answer. There are adequate footnotes and appendices to back up the story. This is a fun read. Enjoy it.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An amazing riddle 4 April 2002
By ER Harrison - Published on
Format: Paperback
A masterly review of the history and science of a celebrated problem in the history of astronomy. Every chance I get I go out at night and look up at the dark sky and try to take in all that it means.+++
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A genuine nugget in Amazon library 14 Jan. 2012
By William J. Meegan - Published on
Format: Paperback
The problem presented in Darkness at Night had me thinking about it for many years. It is truly a great mystery in our universe and it is a mystical problem because the problem according to earthly science should not be. For me it will always be proof that we humans live in a very mystical universe.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The eternal Riddle 18 Sept. 2013
By Alekos 007 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Professor Harrison tackling a simple question: why the sky is dark? takes us into a profound journey in the history of modern cosmology and reveals mysteries of the human thought. A book full of joy.
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