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1 Beaverton Physics- Cosmology

Empire of the Stars: Obsession, Friendship, and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes

by

Empire of the Stars: Obsession, Friendship, and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:


In August 1930, on a voyage from Madras to London, a young Indian looked up at the stars and contemplated their fate. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (Chandra, as he was called) calculated that certain stars would suffer a most violent death, collapsing to virtually nothing. This extraordinary claim, the first mathematical description of black holes, rankled one of the greatest astrophysicists of the day, Sir Arthur Eddington, who in 1935 publicly ridiculed Chandra, sending him into an intellectual and emotional tailspin, and hindering the progress of astrophysics for nearly forty years.

Tracing the rise of two great theories, relativity and quantum mechanics, which meet head on in black holes, Empire of the Stars is the dramatic story of this intellectual feud and its implications for

twentieth-century science. Its also the moving tale of one mans struggle against the establishment and of the deep-seated prejudices that plague even rational minds. Indeed, it wasn't until the cold war that scientists realized the importance of Chandras work, which was finally awarded a Nobel Prize in 1983.

Set against the waning days of the British Empire, this sweeping history examines the quest to understand one of the most forbidding objects in the universe as well as the passions that fueled that quest over the course of a century.

Review:

"In 1935, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, a young Indian astrophysicist studying at Cambridge, presented to the Royal Astronomical Society a radical new theory of what would later be called black holes. Cambridge's leading astrophysicist, Sir Arthur Eddington, who lorded over British scientific circles at the time, ridiculed Chandra's findings as 'stellar buffoonery,' and while Chandra later established himself at the University of Chicago and in 1980 received a Nobel Prize, this humiliation at Eddington's hands haunted him until his death in 1995. Miller's story is not only about Chandra's discovery but the end run that physicists made around it to confirm the existence of black holes, with both Eddington and Chandra disappearing for long stretches. Miller, a British historian of science (Einstein, Picasso), doesn't persuasively make his case that the course of 20th-century physics would have been significantly different if Chandra's findings hadn't been ignored, but he does paint vivid portraits of the scientists in this quest, the racism Chandra encountered at Cambridge, the internal battles between Eddington and other astrophysicists — into which Chandra inserted himself with his theory — and both the excitement and despair a brilliant scientist experienced. Astronomy buffs and readers fascinated by the history of science will find this a compelling read. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Nann du Sautoy, U.K. (Apr. 25)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Book News Annotation:

One could imagine their names alone, Subrahmanyan Chandasekhar and Sir Arthur Eddington, said quite a bit about the source of their conflict. That gut instinct proves true in many respects, especially in the distinct world of the academy in the 1930s. Chandasekhar ("Chandra") strongly believed he could describe black holes mathematically. Eddington strongly believed he had more than just the stars on his side, but also the whole of Western society. In a confrontation at the Royal Astronomical Society Eddington roundly castigated Chandra for presuming to believe his own mathematics in opposition to the better work done by someone like Eddington. Chandra endured years of torment, while Eddington rested easy, sure he had nipped both faulty science and upstart Indians in the bud, unaware he had set back astrophysics about 50 years. Along with his able text Miller (history, U. College, London) includes fascinating photographs of the players.
Annotation 2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Book News Annotation:

One could imagine their names alone, Subrahmanyan Chandasekhar and Sir Arthur Eddington, said quite a bit about the source of their conflict. That gut instinct proves true in many respects, especially in the distinct world of the academy in the 1930s. Chandasekhar ("Chandra") strongly believed he could describe black holes mathematically. Eddington strongly believed he had more than just the stars on his side, but also the whole of Western society. In a confrontation at the Royal Astronomical Society Eddington roundly castigated Chandra for presuming to believe his own mathematics in opposition to the better work done by someone like Eddington. Chandra endured years of torment, while Eddington rested easy, sure he had nipped both faulty science and upstart Indians in the bud, unaware he had set back astrophysics about 50 years. Along with his able text Miller (history, U. College, London) includes fascinating photographs of the players. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

In August 1930, on a voyage from Madras to London, a young Indian looked up at the stars and contemplated their fate. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar--Chandra, as he was called--calculated that certain stars would suffer a strange and violent death, collapsing to virtually nothing. This extraordinary claim, the first mathematical description of black holes, brought Chandra into direct conflict with Sir Arthur Eddington, one of the greatest astrophysicists of the day. Eddington ridiculed the young man's idea at a meeting of the Royal Astronomy Society in 1935, sending Chandra into an intellectual and emotional tailspin--and hindering the progress of astrophysics for nearly forty years.

Empire of the Stars is the dramatic story of this intellectual debate and its implications for twentieth-century science. Arthur I. Miller traces the idea of black holes from early notions of "dark stars" to the modern concepts of wormholes, quantum foam, and baby universes. In the process, he follows the rise of two great theories--relativity and quantum mechanics--that meet head on in black holes. Empire of the Stars provides a unique window into the remarkable quest to understand how stars are born, how they live, and, most portentously (for their fate is ultimately our own), how they die.

It is also the moving tale of one man's struggle against the establishment--an episode that sheds light on what science is, how it works, and where it can go wrong. Miller exposes the deep-seated prejudices that plague even the most rational minds. Indeed, it took the nuclear arms race to persuade scientists to revisit Chandra's work from the 1930s, for the core of a hydrogen bomb resembles nothing so much as an exploding star. Only then did physicists realize the relevance, truth, and importance of Chandra's work, which was finally awarded a Nobel Prize in 1983.

Set against the waning days of the British Empire and taking us right up to the present, this sweeping history examines the quest to understand one of the most forbidding phenomena in the universe, as well as the passions that fueled that quest over the course of a century.

Synopsis:

Tracing the rise of two great theories, relativity and quantum mechanics, which meet head on in black holes, "Empire of the Stars" is the dramatic story of an intellectual feud and its implications for 20th-century science.

Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments xi A Note on Chandras English xiv Prologue xv

PART I The Mystery of White Dwarfs 1 Fatal Collision 3 2 A Journey Between Two Worlds 15 3 Rival Giants of Astrophysics 33 4 Stellar Buffoonery 57 5 Into the Crucibles of Nature 73 6 Eddingtons Discontents 104 7 American Adventure 120 8 An Era Ends 139

PART II Stars and Bombs 9 How Stars Shine 153 10 Supernovae in the Heavens and on Earth 177 11 How the Unthinkable Became Thinkable 201

PA R T III What Happens When Stars Die 12 The Jaws of Darkness 217 13 Shuddering Before the Beautiful 233 14 Into a Black Hole 248

Appendix A: The Ongoing Tale of Sirius B 265 Appendix B: Updating the Supernova Story 268 Notes 275 Bibliography 313 Biographical Sketches 327 Glossary 335 Index 345

Product Details

ISBN:
9780618341511
Subtitle:
Obsession, Friendship, and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes
Author:
Miller, Arthur I
Author:
Miller, Arthur I.
Author:
Miller, Stuart
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Location:
Boston
Subject:
History
Subject:
Astrophysics & Space Science
Subject:
Astronomy
Subject:
Quantum Theory
Subject:
Relativity
Subject:
Relativity (physics)
Subject:
History of Science-General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
April 2005
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
8-page b/w insert, 5 line drawings
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 1 in 1.5 lb

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Related Subjects

Science and Mathematics » Astronomy » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Astrophysics
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Black Holes
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Cosmology
Science and Mathematics » Physics » Relativity Theory

Empire of the Stars: Obsession, Friendship, and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes Used Hardcover
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$16.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Houghton Mifflin Company - English 9780618341511 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In 1935, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, a young Indian astrophysicist studying at Cambridge, presented to the Royal Astronomical Society a radical new theory of what would later be called black holes. Cambridge's leading astrophysicist, Sir Arthur Eddington, who lorded over British scientific circles at the time, ridiculed Chandra's findings as 'stellar buffoonery,' and while Chandra later established himself at the University of Chicago and in 1980 received a Nobel Prize, this humiliation at Eddington's hands haunted him until his death in 1995. Miller's story is not only about Chandra's discovery but the end run that physicists made around it to confirm the existence of black holes, with both Eddington and Chandra disappearing for long stretches. Miller, a British historian of science (Einstein, Picasso), doesn't persuasively make his case that the course of 20th-century physics would have been significantly different if Chandra's findings hadn't been ignored, but he does paint vivid portraits of the scientists in this quest, the racism Chandra encountered at Cambridge, the internal battles between Eddington and other astrophysicists — into which Chandra inserted himself with his theory — and both the excitement and despair a brilliant scientist experienced. Astronomy buffs and readers fascinated by the history of science will find this a compelling read. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, Nann du Sautoy, U.K. (Apr. 25)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by ,
In August 1930, on a voyage from Madras to London, a young Indian looked up at the stars and contemplated their fate. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar--Chandra, as he was called--calculated that certain stars would suffer a strange and violent death, collapsing to virtually nothing. This extraordinary claim, the first mathematical description of black holes, brought Chandra into direct conflict with Sir Arthur Eddington, one of the greatest astrophysicists of the day. Eddington ridiculed the young man's idea at a meeting of the Royal Astronomy Society in 1935, sending Chandra into an intellectual and emotional tailspin--and hindering the progress of astrophysics for nearly forty years.

Empire of the Stars is the dramatic story of this intellectual debate and its implications for twentieth-century science. Arthur I. Miller traces the idea of black holes from early notions of "dark stars" to the modern concepts of wormholes, quantum foam, and baby universes. In the process, he follows the rise of two great theories--relativity and quantum mechanics--that meet head on in black holes. Empire of the Stars provides a unique window into the remarkable quest to understand how stars are born, how they live, and, most portentously (for their fate is ultimately our own), how they die.

It is also the moving tale of one man's struggle against the establishment--an episode that sheds light on what science is, how it works, and where it can go wrong. Miller exposes the deep-seated prejudices that plague even the most rational minds. Indeed, it took the nuclear arms race to persuade scientists to revisit Chandra's work from the 1930s, for the core of a hydrogen bomb resembles nothing so much as an exploding star. Only then did physicists realize the relevance, truth, and importance of Chandra's work, which was finally awarded a Nobel Prize in 1983.

Set against the waning days of the British Empire and taking us right up to the present, this sweeping history examines the quest to understand one of the most forbidding phenomena in the universe, as well as the passions that fueled that quest over the course of a century.

"Synopsis" by , Tracing the rise of two great theories, relativity and quantum mechanics, which meet head on in black holes, "Empire of the Stars" is the dramatic story of an intellectual feud and its implications for 20th-century science.
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