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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece!, 11 Feb 2003
This review is from: Blind Watchers of the Sky: The People and Ideas that Shaped our View of the Universe (Popular science) (Paperback)
Before I got this book, I just thought it would be another run-of-the-mill astronomy book. I didn't expect great things of it. But was I glad to read it or not! I have never ever seen any book which compiles its subject into such a brilliant way. From Tycho Brahe to Edward Kolb himself, this book charts a course in history through the triumph of Copernican/Keplerian astronomy, Galielean and Newtonian physics, all the way to the present day questions about the Big Bang. The title has become a figure of speech for me, and Kolb uses it in the same way. If you're interested in the development and key ideas of astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology, then this is definately the book for you. It's easy to use, and not too technical at all. Patrick Moore may be the master on what's out there, but Edward Kolb is the master of how we know it's there and how it got there. To quote the book, "Buy, read, and enjoy!"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Synthesises stories and science in a sensible sequence., 25 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Blind Watchers of the Sky: The People and Ideas that Shaped our View of the Universe (Popular science) (Paperback)
This book is subtitled "The people and ideas that shaped our view of the universe". The first part is very readable by everyone, because it contains a lot of well-written stories about people and events. It also describes early ideas, but these are quite easy to understand. The last third of the book gets tougher - there is less about people and more about complex ideas. Kolb does a good job at explaining these ideas, but the reader has to think harder. Kolb also has some messages to get across. One of these is that science progresses by experimentation and prolonged thought, and not by sudden moments of inspiration out of the blue: Newton did not understand gravity by watching an apple fall from a tree, and neither did Einstein evolve his theories of relativity by sitting under trees. Kolb emphasises how one discovery or measurement depends upon another: scientists first calculated the size of the Earth, then the size and distance of the moon, and so on. Measurements can only be made if we have some model of the universe in mind, and we refine our models in the light of the measurements. But we may use different models for different purposes. For example, when explaining an eclipse of the sun it is simpler to adopt the Ptolemaic view of the Earth as stationary and the sun and moon as rotating around it, even though we adopt the Copernican or heliocentric view for other purposes. Kolb goes on to discuss the most frequently asked questions that occur today. One of these is "Where is the centre of the universe?". Kolb deals with this by emphasising that the galaxies do not expand out from a centre into a finite space; rather, space is like the surface of a balloon, and it expands without an edge or a centre. The book has a good bibliography and explanatory glossary. Despite an irritatingly large number of misprints, a few of which lead to confusion (e.g. left and right figures reversed on p.205), this remains a five star book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best history of astronomy book that I have seen., 27 Feb 1999
By A Customer
Excellent history of astronomy that explores the process of discovery and the possibilities of future dicoveries.
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