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Our Evolving Universe Paperback – 19 Jun 1997

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Product details

  • Paperback: 197 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; New edition edition (19 Jun. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521629756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521629751
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 2.4 x 27.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,261,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'There are plenty of good astronomy books around, but this is one of the precious few to introduce astrophysics. I'll not give away any of the other pleasures in this delightful book. Our Evolving Universe is not only an intimate introduction to the most exotic and mysterious denizens of the Universe, but a thoughtful guide to the physics behind the appearances.' Nigel Henbest, New Scientist

'Amongst the myriad of books on astrophysics and cosmology this one stands out as a first-rate account of all aspects of the cosmological puzzle … The text is lavishly illustrated with colour photographs and clear diagrams. I would thoroughly recommend this to A-level students doing astrophysics or cosmology courses.' Okan Avni, School Science Review

'Longair has written a wonderful book, which I urge anyone interested in astronomy and cosmology to read from cover to cover.' D. W. Sciama, The Times Higher Education Supplement

'Longair has done an excellent job in bringing out the excitement of stellar evolution, the nature of quasars, the formation and evolution of galaxies and the grand questions of cosmology.' Astronomy Now

'The book is well-produced and beautifully illustrated with relevant images, high quality artworks and crisp, clear line diagrams … a model of clarity and logical progression.' Iain Nicolson, Journal of the British Astronomical Association

'… a beautifully produced book, in an oversize format, with an elegant typographical design, clear diagrams and many colour illustrations … the text is unflinchingly direct and accurate … Its content is that of a first-rate introductory course, while its clean format … makes it a delight to hold.' William Press, Nature

'If I were a good first-year physics undergraduate, I'd run out and buy this book, impelled by the author's enthusiasm … This book would be an excellent choice for anyone who has a qualitative understanding of basic physics and wants an introduction to recent developments in astronomy.' Physics World

'Our Evolving Universe is the Longair lecturing technique poured into a stylish and well-produced book … Longair's focus on the fundamental problems still confronting us is engaging, honest, and might set off some new thoughts and connections in fresh young minds.' Heather Couper, The Observatory

Book Description

A lucid, non-technical and infectiously enthusiastic introduction to current astronomy and cosmology for the general reader and student. Highly illustrated throughout with the latest colour images from the world's most advanced telescopes, it also provides a colourful view of our Universe, right across the spectrum.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

I have not yet completed this book so my rating may increase later! It is well written an interesting but now a bit out of date which is why I havent given it the top mark. It is not strictly non-technical as claimed , making some use of scientific equations, but I rate that as a positive feature.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The Physics of Cosmology explained 26 July 2001
By Atheen - Published on
Our Evolving Universe is definitely a cut above the average work on cosmology and astronomy. The author, Malcolm Longair, is both an accomplished scientist and a noted lecturer on astronomy for young peoples' programs, which makes his book an ideal volume for those with a non-professional interest in this topic.
The photos are colorful and reveal the impressive advances that observational astronomy has made since the introduction of newer technology. This is made most apparent in the comparison of images of stars in the cluster 30 Doradus as observed from a ground observatory and from the Hubble telescope before and after the lens correction. My favorites are the color enhanced map images taken by means of xray, gamma ray, and infrared wavebands.
Although some of the material will be more accessible to those with a solid background in physics--the author explains in slightly more detail, for instance, wave-particle and stellar/solar physics than most beginning texts--the development of the theme of the book will still be understandable to the average reader with an interest in astronomy and cosmology. A good handle on interpretation of graphic data is a must, though, since the volume includes a number of graphic illustrations of concepts which will help the reader understand on an intuitive level the meaning of the formulae that the author includes. My own comprehension of physics is quite average, and I found the book understandable. This might in fact be a good way to introduce high school physics students to the practical application of the principles learned in their texts.
For those readers who feel intimidated by the introduction of formulae or for the interested individual of junior high level, the books Nightwatch A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe or the Universe and Beyond, both by Terence Dickinson, might be a better place to start ones reading before embarking on the Longair book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent introduction to the life of the universe 1 July 2001
By Christopher Wright - Published on
Obviously there's no point claiming that the evolution of the universe can be made simple- it wasn't, and it can't. However, Professor Longair, in this book, focusses on ideas rather than details and manages to strike what I think is a good balance between straightforward explanation and including enough detail to make the book a worthwhile exercise. A good example are the many graphs and charts that the book contain. As a maths teacher I had to work hard to understand what they were saying and how they related to the text, but I always felt it was worthwhile to do so. A picture (or a graph!) definitely paints a thousand words, even when the words are long and technical.
The book tells the story of the universe by explaining and discussing significant epochs and periods in the universe's early history, and their significance today. It explains the recently-discovered cosmic background radiation, the question of the ultimate fate of the universe and other fundamental and currently-undecided questions. You will quickly become used to considering the first second, micro-second, nano-second and pico-second of the universe and I can guarantee your head will throb after a while.
This is, in my view, a stunning book mainly due to the subject matter... though it would have been easy to obscure its nature. The pictures are wonderful and it is a "page-turner" for those who marvel at the cosmos. Read it, love it and then read Alan Guth's book on Inflation (I can't remember the title but I'm sure you can find it!)
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