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Star-Craving Mad: Tales from a Travelling Astronomerby Fred Watson
Synopses & Reviews
Everything the amateur astronomer needs to know about the history of the universe, from the transit of Venus to the Higgs boson, from ancient Peruvian observatories to the world's largest particle accelerator
Many people outside the science world harbor the romantic notion that astronomers spend every night with their eyes clapped to giant telescopes, looking for things. The most frequent question astronomer Fred Watson is asked by members of the public is Have you found anything—recently? Sadly, the answer is usually no. That's because finding new things is only a small part of what astronomers do, compared with investigating things they already know about. People sense that in this, the biggest of big sciences, there might be answers to some of the most profound questions that can be asked: questions about the nature of space and time, about our ultimate origins, the meaning of life, and perhaps even spirituality. Nevertheless, astronomy does provide a broader framework than most sciences for deliberations about issues big and small. And in Fred Watson we have the most witty, funny, and knowledgeable companion to take us on this ride through space, ruminating on Pluto's demotion from planetary status, Peru's ancient sky watchers, sustainable space science, microbes, the sheer pleasure of an eternal quest for knowledge, and maybe, just maybe, the meaning of life.
"Watson, Australia's most popular astronomer, offers a lighthearted excursion into the history of mankind's understanding of the universe. The subtitle refers to the astronomy tours he leads, which also inform the book's structure, and the book is a combination of travelogue — incorporating time spent aboard an astronomy cruise — and popular science, as it explores several continents, eras, and scientists of historic note. Colloquial riffs on cell phone coverage, bad acronyms in science organizations, and commercial space flight's 'well-heeled joy-riders hooning into space,' keep the tone light. While the conversational, anecdotal voice conveys Watson's personality, the scientific material suffers, as it is only broadly summarized; the result is somewhat shallow. Limited to introductions to the most famous breakthroughs in astronomy and physics, Watson offers little to readers already familiar with the development of telescopes, Newtonian physics, relativity, Copernicanism, or quantum mechanics." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
By the author of The Coming Famine, this book sounds a wake up call: we cannot rely on governments or industry to clean up the toxic manmade chemicals we've surrounded ourselves with, it's up to us to repair our poisoned planet
We want things to be cheap, convenient, and useful. Our food arrives contaminated with pesticides and wastes, wrapped in plastic made of hormone-disrupting chemicals. We bathe and dress our children in petrochemicals. Even our coffee contains miniscule traces of arsenic, cup by cup adding to the toxins accumulating in our bodies. Man-made chemicals are creating a silent epidemic. Our children are sicker; cancer, obesity, allergies, and mental health issues are on the rise in adults; and, frighteningly, we may be less intelligent than previous generations. A poisoned planet is the price we pay for our lifestyle, but Julian Cribb shows we have the tools to clean it up and create a healthier, safer future for us all.
About the Author
Fred Watson is an astronomer and the author of Stargazer: The Life and Times of the Telescope. He has received the David Allen Prize for communicating astronomy to the public.
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