Wrinkles in Time

George Smoot - 1993
    Dr. George Smoot, a distinguished cosmologist and adventurer whose quest for cosmic knowledge had taken him from the Brazilian rain forest to the South Pole, unveiled his momentous discovery, bringing to light the very nature of the universe. For anyone who has ever looked up at the night sky and wondered, for anyone who has ever longed to pull aside the fabric of the universe for a glimpse of what lies behind it. Wrinkles in Time is the story of Smoot's search to uncover the cosmic seeds of the universe.Wrinkles in Time is the Double Helix of cosmology, an intimate look at the inner world of men and women who ask. "Why are we here?" It tells the story of George Smoot's dogged pursuit of the cosmic wrinkles in the frozen wastes of Antarctica, on mountaintops, in experiments borne aloft aboard high-altitude balloons, U-2 spy planes, and finally a space satellite. Wrinkles in Time presents the hard science behind the structured violence of the big bang theory through breathtakingly clear, lucid images and meaningful comparisons. Scientists and nonscientists alike can follow with rapt attention the story of how, in a fiery creation, wrinkles formed in space ultimately to become stars, galaxies, and even greater delicate structures. Anyone can appreciate the implications of a universe whose end is written in its beginnings - whose course developed according to a kind of cosmic DNA, which guided the universe from simplicity and symmetry to ever-greater complexity and structure. As controversial as it may seem today, Wrinkles in Time reveals truths that, in an earlier century, would have doomed its proclaimers to the fiery stake. For four thousand years some people have accepted the Genesis account of cosmic origin; for most of this century, scientists debated two rival scientific explanations known as the steady state and big bang theories. And now, Wrinkles in Time tells what really happened. The personal story behind astrophysicist George Smoot's incredible discovery of the origin of the cosmos, hailed by Stephen Hawking as "The scientific discovery of the century, if not of all time."

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

Arthur I. Miller - 2005
    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.

The Great Physicists from Galileo to Einstein

George Gamow - 1959
    His talents are vividly revealed in this exciting and penetrating explanation of how the central laws of physical science evolved — from Pythagoras' discovery of frequency ratios in the 6th century B.C. to today's research on elementary particles.Unlike many books on physics which focus entirely on fact and theory with little or no historic detail, the present work incorporates fascinating personal and biographical data about the great physicists of past and present. Thus Dr. Gamow discusses on an equal basis the trail of Galileo and the basic laws of mechanics which he discovered, or gives his personal recollections about Niels Bohr along with detailed discussion of Bohr's atomic model. You'll also find revealing glimpses of Newton, Huygens, Heisenberg, Pauli, Einstein, and many other immortals of science.Each chapter is centered around a single great figure, or at most two, with other physicists of the era and their contributions forming a background. Major topics include the dawn of physics, the Dark Ages and the Renaissance, Newtonian physics, heat as energy, electricity, the relativistic revolution, quantum theory, and the atomic nucleus and elementary particles.As Dr. Gamow points out in the Preface, the aim of this book is to give the reader the feeling of what physics is, and what kind of people physicists are. This delightfully informal approach, combined with the book's clear, easy-to-follow explanations, will especially appeal to young readers but will stimulate and entertain science enthusiasts of all ages. 1961 edition."The whole thing is a tour de force covering all the important landmarks." — Guardian

Measuring the Universe: Our Historic Quest to Chart the horizons of Space and Time

Kitty Ferguson - 1900
    Today, scientists are attempting to measure the entire universe and to determine its origin. Although the methods have changed, the quest to chart the horizons of space and time continues to be one of the great adventures of science.Measuring the Universe is an eloquent chronicle of the men and women– from Aristarchus to Cassini, Sir Isaac Newton to Henrietta Leavitt and Stephen Hawking–who have gradually unlocked the mysteries of "how far" and in so doing have changed our ideas about the size and nature of the universe and our place in it. Kitty Ferguson reveals their methods to have been as inventive as their results were–and are–eye-opening. Advances such as Copernicus's revolutionary insights about the arrangement of the solar system, William Herschel's meticulous creation of the first three-dimensional map of the universe, and Edwin Hubble's astonishing discovery that the universe is expanding have by turns revolutionized our concept of the universe. Connecting centuries of breakthroughs with the political and cultural events surrounding them, Ferguson makes astronomy part of the sweep of history.To measure the seemingly immeasurable, scientists have always pushed the boundaries of the imagination–today, for example, facing the paradox of an ever-expanding universe that doesn't appear to expand into anything. In Kitty Fergeson's skillfill hands, the unimaginable becomes accessible and the splendid quest something we all can share.

Firing A Rocket : Stories of the Development of the Rocket Engines for the Saturn Launch Vehicles and the Lunar Module as Viewed from the Trenches (Kindle Single)

James R. French - 2017
    But Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride would have never made history, and humankind would not have touched the stars, if not for the men and women on the ground who lit the fuse that launched the first rockets.Enthralled as a boy by the exploits of Flash Gordon and the novels of Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke—who put the science in science fiction—James French became one of the original unsung engineers of America’s groundbreaking space program. His fascinating memoir offers an up-close-and-technical look at building, testing, and perfecting the pioneering Saturn rockets and original lunar landing module, and he shares true tales, both humorous and harrowing, of life—and near death—on the front lines of scientific exploration.If you’ve ever said, “It’s not rocket science,” you’re right. It’s rocket engineering—and here’s your chance to marvel at how it changed the world and made it possible to explore all that lies beyond Earth. James R French graduated from MIT in 1958 with a degree of BSME Specializing in Propulsion. His first job was with Rocketdyne Division of North American Aviation where he worked on developmental testing of H-1 engines and combustion devices hardware for F-1 and J-2 engines used in Saturn 5. Mr. French has also worked at TRW Systems, where he was Lead Development Test Engineer on the Lunar Module Descent Engine, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he was Advanced Planetary studies Manager as well as Chief Engineer for the SP-100 Space Nuclear Power System and worked on Mariners 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9; Viking 1 & 2 and Voyager 1 & 2. . In 1986, he helped found American Rocket Co., a commercial launch company.Since 1987, Mr. French has been consultant to a variety of aerospace companies, SDIO, NASA, and USAF. He has participated in various startup companies in the private space flight arena and currently consults extensively to Blue Origin. Mr. French is co-author with Dr. Michael Griffin of the best-selling text Space Vehicle Design, published by AIAA. The second edition of the book has received the Summerfield Book Award for 2008. Mr. French is a Fellow of both AIAA and the British Interplanetary Society and a 50+ year member of AIAA. He has held several Technical Committee and other posts in AIAA. Cover design by Evan Twohy

Parallax: The Race to Measure the Cosmos

Alan W. Hirshfeld - 2001
    Not until the nineteenth century would three men, armed with the best telescopes of their age, race to conquer this astronomical Everest. Parallax tells the fast-moving story of their contest, which ended in a dead heat. Against a sweeping backdrop filled with kidnappings, dramatic rescue, swordplay, madness, and bitter rivalry, Alan W. Hirshfeld brings to life the heroes -- and heroines -- of this remarkable chapter in history. Characters include the destitute boy plucked from a collapsed building who grew up to become the world's greatest telescope maker; the hot-tempered Dane whose nose was lopped off in a duel over mathematics; a merchant's apprentice forced to choose between the lure of money and his passion for astronomy; and the musician who astounded the world by discovering a new planet from his own backyard.Generously illustrated with period engravings and paintings, Parallax is an unforgettable ride through time and space.

How Apollo Flew to the Moon

W. David Woods - 2007
    This fascinating book traces what was a massive accomplishment right from the early launches through manned orbital spaceflights, detailing each step. Out of the battlefields of World War II came the gifted German engineers and designers who developed the V-2 rocket, which evolved into the powerful Saturn V booster that propelled men to the Moon. David Woods tells this exciting story, starting from America 's postwar astronautical research facilities. The techniques and procedures developed have been recognised as an example of human exploration at its greatest, demonstrating a peak of technological excellence.

The Perfect Machine: Building the Palomar Telescope

Ronald Florence - 1994
    As huge as the Pantheon of Rome and as heavy as the Statue of Liberty, this magnificent instrument is so precisely built that its seventeen-foot mirror was hand-polished to a tolerance of 2/1,000,000 of an inch. The telescope's construction drove some to the brink of madness, made others fearful that mortals might glimpse heaven, and transfixed an entire nation. Ronald Florence weaves into his account of the creation of "the perfect machine" a stirring chronicle of the birth of Big Science and a poignant rendering of an America mired in the depression yet reaching for the stars.

The All-American Boys

Walter Cunningham - 1977
    Walter Cunningham presents the astronauts in all their glory in this dramatically revised and updated edition. From its insider's view of the astropolitics that guided the functioning of the astronaut corps to its thoughtful discussion of the Columbia tragedy, The All-American Boys resonates with Cunningham's passion for humanity's destiny in space. Cunningham brings us into NASA's training program and reveals what it takes to be an astronaut. He poignantly relates the story of the devastating Apollo 1 fire that took the lives of three astronauts and his own later successful flight on Apollo 7.

The Space Book: From the Beginning to the End of Time, 250 Milestones in the History of Space Astronomy

Jim Bell - 2013
    Beautiful photographs or illustrations accompany each entry. Open the book to any page to discover some new wonder or mystery about the Universe around us.

Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling

Thomas Hager - 1995
    He decried the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War Two, agitated against nuclear weapons, promoted vitamin C as a cure for the common cold and researched the idea of DNA.

Heavenly Intrigue: Johannes Kepler, Tycho Brahe, and the Murder Behind One of History's Greatest Scientific Discoveries

Joshua Gilder - 2004
    That collaboration would mark the dawn of modern science . . . and end in murder.Johannes Kepler changed forever our understanding of the universe with his three laws of planetary motion. He demolished the ancient model of planets moving in circular orbits and laid the foundation for the universal law of gravitation, setting physics on the course of revelation it follows to this day. Kepler was one of the greatest astronomers of all time. Yet if it hadn't been for the now lesser-known Tycho Brahe, the man for whom Kepler apprenticed, Kepler would be a mere footnote in today's science books. Brahe was the Imperial Mathematician at the court of the Holy Roman Emperor in Prague and the most famous astronomer of his era. He was one of the first great systematic empirical scientists and one of the earliest founders of the modern scientific method. His forty years of planetary observations—an unparalleled treasure of empirical data—contained the key to Kepler's historic breakthrough. But those observations would become available to Kepler only after Brahe's death. This groundbreaking history portrays the turbulent collaboration between these two astronomers at the turn of the seventeenth century and their shattering discoveries that would mark the transition from medieval to modern science. But that is only half the story. Based on recent forensic evidence (analyzed here for the first time) and original research into medieval and Renaissance alchemy—all buttressed by in-depth interviews with leading historians, scientists, and medical specialists—the authors have put together shocking and compelling evidence that Tycho Brahe did not die of natural causes, as has been believed for four hundred years. He was systematically poisoned—most likely by his assistant, Johannes Kepler. An epic tale of murder and scientific discovery, Heavenly Intrigue reveals the dark side of one of history’s most brilliant minds and tells the story of court politics, personal intrigue, and superstition that surrounded the protean invention of two great astronomers and their quest to find truth and beauty in the heavens above.

Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton

Richard S. Westfall - 1980
    Professor Westfall treats all aspects of Newton's career, but his account centres on a full description of Newton's achievements in science. Thus the core of the work describes the development of the calculus, the experimentation that altered the direction of the science of optics, and especially the investigations in celestial dynamics that led to the law of universal gravitation.

Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961-1965

Francis French - 2007
    But it was also a time of human drama, of moments less public but no less dramatic in the lives of those who made the golden age of space flight happen. These are the moments and the lives that Into That Silent Sea captures, a book that tells the intimate stories of the men and women, American and Russian, who made the space race their own and gave the era its compelling character. These pages chronicle a varied and riveting cavalcade of human stories, including a look at Yuri Gagarin’s harrowing childhood in war-ravaged Russia and Alan Shepard’s firm purchase on the American dream. It also examines the controversial career of cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, and the remarkable struggle and ultimate disappointment of her American counterparts. It tries to uncover the truth behind the allegations that shadowed Gus Grissom and Scott Carpenter and then allows the reader to share the heart-stopping suspense of Alexei Leonov’s near-fatal first space walk. Through dozens of interviews and access to Russian and American official documents and family records, the authors bring to life the experiences that shaped the lives of the first astronauts and cosmonauts and forever changed their world and ours.

Curie and Radioactivity

Paul Strathern - 1999
    A biography of the first family of radioactivity, focuses on their ground-breaking contributions to science, including the discovery of radium.