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1 Burnside Astronomy- General

The Day We Found the Universe

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The Day We Found the Universe Cover

ISBN13: 9780375424298
ISBN10: 0375424296
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

On January 1, 1925, thirty-five-year-old Edwin Hubble announced the observation that ultimately established that our universe was a thousand trillion times larger than previously believed, filled with myriad galaxies like our own. This discovery dramatically reshaped how humans understood their place in the cosmos, and once and for all laid to rest the idea that the Milky Way galaxy was alone in the universe. Six years later, continuing research by Hubble and others forced Albert Einstein to renounce his own cosmic model and finally accept the astonishing fact that the universe was not immobile but instead expanding.

The fascinating story of these interwoven discoveries includes battles of will, clever insights, and wrong turns made by the early investigators in this great twentieth-century pursuit. It is a story of science in the making that shows how these discoveries were not the work of a lone genius but the combined efforts of many talented scientists and researchers toiling away behind the scenes. The intriguing characters include Henrietta Leavitt, who discovered the means to measure the vast dimensions of the cosmos . . . Vesto Slipher, the first and unheralded discoverer of the universes expansion . . . Georges Lemaître, the Jesuit priest who correctly interpreted Einsteins theories in relation to the universe . . . Milton Humason, who, with only an eighth-grade education, became a world-renowned expert on galaxy motions . . . and Harlow Shapley, Hubbles nemesis, whose flawed vision of the universe delayed the discovery of its true nature and startling size for more than a decade.

Here is a watershed moment in the history of astronomy, brought about by the exceptional combination of human curiosity, intelligence, and enterprise, and vividly told by acclaimed science writer Marcia Bartusiak.

Review:

"Science writer Bartusiak (Through a Universe Darkly) vividly tells the story behind the discovery that changed our cozy view of the universe. One hundred years ago, the Milky Way was all the cosmos we knew, 'a lone, star-filled oasis surrounded by a darkness of unknown depth.' But in 1929, word came that the universe was expanding. The find is largely attributed to astronomer Edwin Hubble, a Rhodes scholar and dandy, while he was observing the heavens through Mount Wilson's 100-inch telescope. Hubble became a media hit, but as Bartusiak explains, this finding was part of a long chain of discoveries made at the time. James Keeler's stellar photographs first revealed mysterious 'celestial flocks' of fainter nebulae, and Henrietta Leavitt's relentless study of variable stars became the basis for determining stellar distances. Hubble's rival, Harlow Shapley, unveiled the architecture of the Milky Way and Earth's insignificant position within it. From the women 'computers' who analyzed stellar photographs for Harvard to Mars-mad Percival Lowell, Bartusiak reveals the vibrant beginnings of modern astronomy, along with all the dreams and fears, rivalries and triumphs, of those involved." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

Famous astronomy anecdote: It's 1923, and astronomer Harlow Shapley, the leading proponent of the theory that the Milky Way is the one and only galaxy, gets a letter from Edwin Hubble. Shapley reads it, turns to a colleague and says, "Here is the letter that has destroyed my universe." Marcia Bartusiak's new book is the back story of that anecdote.

At issue are faint wisps of light... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Book News Annotation:

Bartusiak teaches at MIT, is the award-winning author of several books, and has contributed to numerous publications including National Geographic, Smithsonian, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. In her latest text she presents an account of the discovery of the modern universe in the early-20th century. The story details the contributions made by not only Edwin Hubble but also the many talented and scientists working behind the scenes, including Henrietta Leavitt, Vesto Slipher, Georges Lemitre, Milton Humason, and Harlow Shapley. Illustrated with b&w photographs. Academic but accessible to general readers. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

About the Author

Marcia Bartusiak is an award-winning author whose previous books include Through a Universe Darkly, Thursdays Universe, Einsteins Unfinished Symphony, and Archives of the Universe. Her work has appeared in such publications as National Geographic, Smithsonian, Discover, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. She teaches at MIT and lives in Sudbury, Massachusetts

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RonBeasley, August 21, 2009 (view all comments by RonBeasley)
Astrology began to morph into astronomy in 1543 with the publication of Nicolaus Copernicus' “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres.” It was here, much to the dismay of theologians, the Earth lost it's place as the center of the universe. The transformation was complete about 60 years later when Galileo Galilei demonstrated his telescope. It was over two hundred years later that astronomy morphed into cosmology. That transformation is what The Day we Found the Universe by Marcia Bartusiak is all about.

While the earth may have been demoted by Copernicus further demotions were to follow. At the start of the 20th century it was thought that the sun was in the center of our galaxy, The Milky Way and that The Milky Way was the only galaxy. All that was about to change.

In early 20th century America there were wealthy men who were willing to donate money for bigger and bigger telescopes. Astronomers had been looking at spiral nebulae. With the larger and more powerful telescopes it became obvious that those spiral nebulae were actually spiral galaxies just like our own Milky Way. It was also determined that the earth's sun was not in the center of the Milky Way. So we had a double demotion – the earth was not in the center of this galaxy and the Milky Way was not even the only galaxy.

In addition to the more powerful telescopes the cosmologists had another powerful new tool, color spectrum analyzers. But in addition to the tools there were the personalities and Bartusiak gives them all some time. While everyone has heard of Edwin Hubble who has an orbiting space telescope named after him how many have heard of James Keeler who was both a master with spectroscope but helped make the reflecting telescope the tool of choice. And there was Henrietta Leavitt who's study of Cepheid variables made it possible for male astronomers to determine the size of the universe. There are of course many more – some hardly known but most forgotten by history.

Now if you still think the earth is 6,000 years old and that the sun orbits the earth this book is not for you. But if you are interested in the history of scientific thought this is a wonderful book. Bartusiak is a wonderful science writer and this book is the result of extensive research to find the important players that have been forgotten. Even in serious scientific circles there are personality conflicts, egos and competition and Bartusiak makes that a part of the story.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780375424298
Author:
Bartusiak, Marcia
Publisher:
Pantheon Books
Subject:
Astronomy - General
Subject:
Astronomy
Subject:
History
Subject:
Astronomy - Universe
Subject:
Astronomy -- History.
Subject:
History of Science-General
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20090431
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
BandW ILLUSTRATIONS THROUGHOUT
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
9.5 x 6.3 x 1.15 in 1.4 lb

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Related Subjects


Science and Mathematics » Astronomy » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » General History and Philosophy

The Day We Found the Universe Used Hardcover
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Product details 368 pages Pantheon Books - English 9780375424298 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Science writer Bartusiak (Through a Universe Darkly) vividly tells the story behind the discovery that changed our cozy view of the universe. One hundred years ago, the Milky Way was all the cosmos we knew, 'a lone, star-filled oasis surrounded by a darkness of unknown depth.' But in 1929, word came that the universe was expanding. The find is largely attributed to astronomer Edwin Hubble, a Rhodes scholar and dandy, while he was observing the heavens through Mount Wilson's 100-inch telescope. Hubble became a media hit, but as Bartusiak explains, this finding was part of a long chain of discoveries made at the time. James Keeler's stellar photographs first revealed mysterious 'celestial flocks' of fainter nebulae, and Henrietta Leavitt's relentless study of variable stars became the basis for determining stellar distances. Hubble's rival, Harlow Shapley, unveiled the architecture of the Milky Way and Earth's insignificant position within it. From the women 'computers' who analyzed stellar photographs for Harvard to Mars-mad Percival Lowell, Bartusiak reveals the vibrant beginnings of modern astronomy, along with all the dreams and fears, rivalries and triumphs, of those involved." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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