front cover of The Fabric of the Heavens
The Fabric of the Heavens
The Development of Astronomy and Dynamics
Stephen Toulmin and June Goodfield
University of Chicago Press, 1999
Conceived as three companion volumes that form an introduction to the central ideas of the modern natural sciences, these books—intelligent, informative, and accessible—are an excellent source for those who have no technical knowledge of the subject.

Praise for The Fabric of the Heavens:

"I cannot remember when I last went through a book, any book, with such all-devouring zest. What is more, even the most complex technicalities are reduced to a positively crystalline clarity: If I can understand them, anyone can. The Fabric of the Heavens is, in every sense of the word, an eye-opener."—Peter Green, The Yorkshire Post

"Not until the last chapter of the book is [the reader] allowed to think again wholly as a modern man has become accustomed, by common sense, to think. The discipline is admirably suited to the authors' task, and cunningly devised for the reader's edification—and, indeed, for his delight."—Physics Today

Praise for The Architecture of Matter:

"The Architecture of Matter is to be warmly recommended. It is that rare achievement, a lively book which at the same time takes the fullest possible advantage of scholarly knowledge."—Charles C. Gillespie, New York Times Book Review

"One is impressed by the felicity of the examples and by the lively clarity with which significant experiments and ideas are explained. . . . No other history of science is so consistently challenging."—Scientific American

Praise for The Discovery of Time:

"A subject of absorbing interest . . . is presented not as a history of science, but as a chapter in the history of ideas from the ancient Greeks to our own time."—Times Literary Supplement

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For the Love of Mars
A Human History of the Red Planet
Matthew Shindell
University of Chicago Press, 2023
A tour of Mars in the human imagination, from ancient astrologers to modern explorers.

Mars and its secrets have fascinated and mystified humans since ancient times. For the Love of Mars surveys the red planet’s place in the human imagination, beginning with ancient astrologers and skywatchers and ending in our present moment of exploration and virtual engagement.
National Air and Space Museum curator Matthew Shindell describes how historical figures across eras and around the world have made sense of this mysterious planet. We meet Mayan astrologer priests who incorporated Mars into seasonal calendars and religious ceremonies, Babylonian astrologers who discerned bad omens, figures of the Scientific Revolution who struggled to comprehend Mars as a world, Victorian astronomers who sought signs of intelligent life, and twentieth- and twenty-first-century scientists who have established a technological presence on the planet’s surface. Along the way, we encounter writers and artists from each of these periods who took readers and viewers along on imagined journeys to Mars.
By focusing on the diverse human stories behind the telescopes and behind the robots we know and love, Shindell shows how Mars exploration has evolved in ways that have also expanded knowledge about other facets of the universe. Captained by an engaging and erudite expert, For the Love of Mars is a captivating voyage through time and space for anyone curious about Curiosity and the red planet.

front cover of Foundations of New World Cultural Astronomy
Foundations of New World Cultural Astronomy
A Reader with Commentary
Anthony Aveni
University Press of Colorado, 2008
Gazing into the black skies from the Anasazi observatory at Chimney Rock or the Castillo Pyramid in the Maya ruins of Chichén Itzá, a modern visitor might wonder what ancient stargazers looked for in the skies and what they saw. Once considered unresearchable, these questions now drive cultural astronomers who draw on written and unwritten records and a constellation of disciplines to reveal the wonders of ancient and contemporary astronomies.

Cultural astronomy, first called archaeoastronomy, has evolved at ferocious speed since its genesis in the 1960s, with seminal essays and powerful rebuttals published in far-flung, specialized journals. Until now, only the most closely involved scholars could follow the intellectual fireworks. In Foundations of New World Cultural Astronomy, Anthony Aveni, one of cultural astronomy's founders and top scholars, offers a selection of the essays that built the field, from foundational works to contemporary scholarship.
Including four decades of research throughout the Americas by linguists, archaeologists, historians, ethnologists, astronomers, and engineers, this reader highlights the evolution of the field through thematic organization and point-counterpoint articles. Aveni - an award-winning author and former National Professor of the Year - serves up incisive commentary, background for the uninitiated, and suggested reading, questions, and essay topics. Students, readers, and scholars will relish this collection and its tour of a new field in which discoveries about ancient ways of looking at the skies cast light on our contemporary views.


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From Stone to Star
A View of Modern Geology
Claude Allègre
Harvard University Press, 1992

From Stone to Star chronicles one of the great scientific adventures of our time. Written by the eminent geochemist Claude Allègre, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the sophisticated isotopic detective work that has established a geologic chronology of the earth and transformed our understanding of its genesis and history. In eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe geologists exploring the earth's surface collected fossils and hotly debated the origin of the layered and folded rocks in which they were embedded.

The development of seismology, the study of earthquakes, in this century shifted the focus from the terrestrial crust to the earth's deep interior. But our knowledge of the chemistry of the earth and of the solar system has been revolutionized by advances in modern laboratory technology and analysis of meteorites and lunar rocks. High resolution mass spectrometry has allowed scientists to explore the very hearts of atoms. The Apollo mission brought back our first samples of the lunar surface, and unmanned space probes have gathered detailed photographs of distant planets.

From Stone to Star provides an engaging account of this exciting new chapter in scientific discovery. Scientists can now measure the isotopic composition of atoms with extreme precision. As miraculous as it may seem, a minute quantity of meteorite yields more information about the structure of the earth and the primitive history of the solar system than years of fieldwork on the earth's surface. Allègre, who was a project scientist during the interplanetary space missions, scrupulously avoids technical jargon. His lucid prose and abiding passion for his subject succeed in creating a superbly readable introduction to the history, methods, and theories of modern geology.


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From White Dwarfs to Black Holes
The Legacy of S. Chandrasekhar
Edited by G. Srinivasan
University of Chicago Press, 1999
From White Dwarfs to Black Holes chronicles the extraordinarily productive scientific career of Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, one of the twentieth century's most distinguished astrophysicists. Among Chandrasekhar's many discoveries were the critical mass that makes a star too massive to become a white dwarf and the mathematical theory of black holes. In 1983 he shared the Nobel Prize for Physics for these and other achievements.

Over the course of more than six decades of active research Chandrasekhar investigated a dizzying array of subjects. G. Srinivasan notes in the preface to this book that "the range of Chandra's contributions is so vast that no one person in the physics or astronomy community can undertake the task of commenting on his achievements." Thus, in this collection, ten eminent scientists evaluate Chandrasekhar's contributions to their own fields of specialization. Donald E. Osterbrock closes the volume with a historical discussion of Chandrasekhar's interactions with graduate students during his more than quarter century at Yerkes Observatory.

Contributors are James Binney, John L. Friedman, Norman R. Lebovitz, Donald E. Osterbrock, E. N. Parker, Roger Penrose, A. R. P. Rau, George B. Rybicki, E. E. Salpeter, Bernard F. Schutz, and G. Srinivasan.


front cover of Fundamentals of Galaxy Dynamics, Formation and Evolution
Fundamentals of Galaxy Dynamics, Formation and Evolution
Ignacio Ferreras
University College London, 2019
Galaxies, along with their underlying dark matter halos, constitute the building blocks of the universe. Of all the fundamental forces, gravity is the dominant one that drives the evolution of structures from small density seeds to the galaxies we see today. The interactions among myriads of stars, or dark matter particles, in a gravity-based structure produce a system with fascinating implications for thermodynamics, including both similarities and fundamental differences. Ignacio Ferreras presents a concise introduction to extragalactic astrophysics, with an emphasis on stellar dynamics and the growth of density fluctuations in an expanding universe. Additional chapters are devoted to smaller systems (stellar clusters) and larger ones (galaxy clusters). Written for advanced undergraduates and beginning postgraduate students, Fundamentals of Galaxy Dynamics provides a useful tool to embark on a research career. Some of the derivations for the most important results are presented in detail to enable students to appreciate the beauty of math as a tool to understand the workings of galaxies. Each chapter includes a set of problems to help students advance with the material.

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