- Hardcover: 342 pages
- Publisher: Thames & Hudson; 01 edition (26 Oct. 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 050025155X
- ISBN-13: 978-0500251553
- Product Dimensions: 22.2 x 3.6 x 27.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,219,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Secrets of the Universe: How We Discovered the Cosmos Hardcover – 26 Oct 2009
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"Murdin's book beautifully illustrates the story of the astronomical quest ... for anyone of any age and any stage of scientific literacy or illiteracy ... Murdin has a genius for lucid explanations and attractive detail"
--A.C. Grayling, review barnesandnoble.com
'Excellent value for money, this book would be a marvellous addition for any secondary school or college library' --The School Librarian
'Beautifully produced ... delightfully illustrated with a stunning array of images ... the text is lucid and crammed with fascinating facts and figures ... an inspiring gift for anyone' --Observatory Magazine
'This book will ... provide good reading for some considerable time ... it offers excellent value at the quoted price and I can do no more than strongly recommend it' --Astronomy Now
'As we have come to expect from this publisher, the reproduction of illustrations is excellent and the volume is printed and bound to the highest standard ... I recommend it to all'
--Journal of the British Astronomical Association
'An accessible and up-to-date history of the most significant astronomical discoveries of the past'
--The Lincolnshire Echo
'Packed with pictures and lucid text ... will be of much interest to school librarians or individuals'
--School Science Review
About the Author
Paul Murdin is a senior fellow at the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge and editor in chief of the Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Formerly, he was head of astronomy at the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council and director of science at the British National Space Centre. He is the author of Full Meridian of Glory: Perilous Adventures in the Competition to Measure the Earth and coauthor of The Firefly Encyclopedia of Astronomy.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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The sequence introducing famous astronomers from 1543 to 1919 covering an amazing range of astronomy discoveries, from the recognition that the the Sun is the centre of the Solar System to Gravitational lenses bend the path of light.
Professor Murdin fascinated his ametuer audience with the extensive details of the many discoveries and astronomy advances he covered.
Secrets of the Universe: How We Discovered the Cosmos I purchased from Amazon at a welcome cost and although used, is in excellent condition, also supplied very quickly and now being studied with great satisfaction.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
There are plenty of surprising human stories here. When the Nazis overran the Netherlands, Dutch astronomers were inconvenienced - observing the skies at night was a violation of curfew. Astronomer Jan Oort encouraged his students to do theoretical studies if they couldn't do observational ones. They were able to calculate the radio waves that ought to have been emitted by hydrogen atoms, and after the war was over they were among the ones to confirm experimentally that this was so. Being able to plot the hydrogen waves enabled us to map our galaxy. During the Cold War, satellites were sent up to look for the gamma ray bursts that would mean there had been a nuclear explosion. No one was ready to find such bursts happening routinely week-by-week; it wasn't nuclear tests but some mysterious natural phenomenon that no one had expected. The astronomers who used satellite data to prove that the bursts came from cosmic explosions couldn't originally print all their data, because that would have told our enemies what our satellites were able to do. More recent observations show that gamma ray bursters in their few seconds of emission send out as much energy as is in a supernova. The rings of Saturn began to be understood. Galileo, with his primitive telescope, saw them as "handles" or large moons of the planet. In 1656, the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens was the first to see the rings. The rings were spectacular, but begged for an explanation. The French mathematician Laplace in 1787 suggested that since a single solid ring could not orbit the planet, that it was instead a collection of thin solid ringlets. In 1849, another French scientist named Roche calculated that any solid (a moon or rings) that close to Saturn would break up under the planet's gravity. The Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell showed that the rings could only be unconnected particles with different rotation rates depending upon distance from the planet, and in 1895 these different rates were indeed found. Uranus has been found to have more than ten rings, and Neptune has four or five. Even Jupiter has some thin ones. Repeatedly, what we have learned from studying the skies has helped us understand what goes on here below. Spectrograms of sunlight showed that both the Sun and the Earth were made of similar elements, demonstrating that Earth wasn't a particularly special place by chemistry any more than it had been by location. The element Helium was discovered spectrographically on the Sun in 1868 before it was isolated on Earth in 1895.
_Secrets of the Universe_ is a gorgeous, big-format book, with pictures on almost every page, most in color. The chapters move out from the solar system to cosmic physics, to our galaxy, and to the universe beyond. Within the chapters are four-page summaries to tell about supernovae, dark matter, quasars, the greenhouse effect, or the surprisingly revelatory question of why the sky is dark at night (it's because the universe isn't infinite in time or space, silly). Murdin has given lucid explanations in these short segments, and connects them throughout to other segments, showing a surprising unity within the diverse efforts of space exploration. The book is a beautifully illustrated guide to the history and accomplishments of our astronomical quest, exciting to look at and fun to read.