Seeing and Believing: How the Telescope Opened Our Eyes and Minds to the Heavens


Richard Panek - 1998
    A concise look at the impact of the advent of the telescope on the way humans view the universe and their place in it focuses on the visionaries, beginning with Galileo, who created and perfected it.

Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship


George Dyson - 2002
    government, launched an attempt to build a four-thousand-ton spaceship propelled by nuclear bombs. The initial plan called for missions to Mars by 1965 and Saturn by 1970. After seven years of work, political obstacles brought the effort to a halt. The Orion team, led by the American bomb-designer Theodore B. Taylor, included the physicist Freeman Dyson, whose son George was five years old when the existence of the project was first announced. In Project Orion, George Dyson has synthesized hundreds of hours of interviews and thousands of pages of newly excavated documents, still only partially declassified, to piece together one of the most tantalizing "what if" stories of the twentieth century.

Our Universe: An Astronomer's Guide


Jo Dunkley - 2019
    For thousands of years it has been at the heart of scientific and philosophical inquiry, from the first star catalogues etched into ancient Mesopotamian clay tablets to the metres-wide telescopes constructed in Chile's Atacama Desert today. On a clear night it is hard not to look up and pick out familiar constellations, and to think of the visionary minds who pioneered our understanding of what lies beyond.In this thrilling new guide to our Universe and how it works, Professor of Astrophysics Jo Dunkley reveals how it only becomes more beautiful and exciting the more we discover about it. With warmth and clarity, Dunkley takes us from the very basics - why the Earth orbits the Sun, and how our Moon works - right up to massive, strange phenomena like superclusters, quasars, and the geometry of spacetime. As she does so, Dunkley unfurls the history of humankind's heroic journey to understand the history and structure of the cosmos, revealing the extraordinary, little-known stories of astronomy pioneers including Williamina Fleming, Vera Rubin and Jocelyn Bell Burnell.Illuminating and uplifting, this is your essential guide to the biggest subject of all.

The Higgs Boson and Beyond


Sean Carroll - 2015
    The hunt for the Higgs was the subject of wide media attention due to the cost of the project, the complexity of the experiment, and the importance of its result. And, when it was announced with great fanfare in 2012 that physicists has succeeded in creating and identifying this all-important new particle, the discovery was celebrated around the world.And yet, virtually no one who read that news could tell you what, exactly, the Higgs boson was, and why its discovery was so important that we had to spend 10 billion dollars and build the single largest and most complex device in the history of mankind in order to find it. When you understand the details, this story ranks as one of the most thrilling in the history of modern science.Award-winning theoretical physicist Sean Carroll, a brilliant researcher as well as a gifted speaker who excels in explaining scientific concepts to the public, is perfectly positioned to tell this story. In this 12-lecture masterpiece of scientific reporting, you'll learn everything you need to know to fully grasp the significance of this discovery, including the basics of quantum mechanics; the four forces that comprise the Standard Model of particle physics; how these forces are transmitted by fields and particles; and the importance of symmetry in physics.You also get an in-depth view of the Large Hadron Collider - the largest machine ever built, and the device responsible for finally revealing the concept of the Higgs boson as reality. By the end, you'll understand how the Higgs boson verifies the final piece in the Standard Model of particle physics, and how its discovery validates and deepens our understanding of the universe.

The Day We Found the Universe


Marcia Bartusiak - 2009
    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 universe’s expansion . . . Georges Lemaître, the Jesuit priest who correctly interpreted Einstein’s 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, Hubble’s 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.

Dr. Space: The Life of Wernher Von Braun


Bob Ward - 2005
    Explores the life and achievements of the rocketry pioneer who designed rockets for the Nazi war effort early in his career and later became a leading figure in the American space program.

Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe


Alan W. Hirshfeld - 2014
    . . . Readers will never again look into the night sky the same way.” —MICHAEL SHERMER, author of The Believing Brain on Parallax: The Race to Measure the CosmosIn 1930, Edwin Hubble announced the greatest discovery in the history of astronomy since Galileo first turned a telescope to the heavens. The galaxies, previously believed to float serenely in the void, are in fact hurtling apart at an incredible speed; the universe is expanding. This stunning discovery was the culmination of a decades-long arc of scientific and technical advancement. In its shadow lies an untold, yet equally fascinating, backstory whose cast of characters illuminates the gritty, hard-won nature of scientific progress.The path to a broader mode of cosmic observation was blazed by a cadre of 19th-century amateur astronomers and inventors, galvanized by the advent of photography, spectral analysis, and innovative technology to create the entirely new field of astrophysics. From William Bond, who turned his home into a functional observatory, to John and Henry Draper, a father and son team who were trailblazers of astrophotography and spectroscopy, to geniuses of invention such as Léon Foucault, and George Hale, who founded the Mount Wilson Observatory, Hirshfeld reveals the incredible stories—and the ambitious dreamers—behind the birth of modern astronomy.Alan Hirshfeld, Professor of Physics at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and an Associate of the Harvard College Observatory, is the author of Parallax: The Race to Measure the Cosmos, The Electric Life of Michael Faraday, and Eureka Man: The Life and Legacy of Archimedes.

The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the Mars Rover Performs Its Job


Emily Lakdawalla - 2018
    It is a one-ton robot with two brains, seventeen cameras, six wheels, nuclear power, and a laser beam on its head. No one human understands how all of its systems and instruments work. This essential reference to the Curiosity mission explains the engineering behind every system on the rover, from its rocket-powered jetpack to its radioisotope thermoelectric generator to its fiendishly complex sample handling system. Its lavishly illustrated text explains how all the instruments work -- its cameras, spectrometers, sample-cooking oven, and weather station -- and describes the instruments' abilities and limitations. It tells you how the systems have functioned on Mars, and how scientists and engineers have worked around problems developed on a faraway planet: holey wheels and broken focus lasers. And it explains the grueling mission operations schedule that keeps the rover working day in and day out.

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.

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.

Full Moon


Michael Light - 1999
    For the first time NASA has allowed 900 of its 'master' negatives and transparencies to be taken offsite for electronic scanning so as to produce the sharpest images of space that we have ever seen. From this selection of 'master' photographs Michael Light has distilled a single composite journey beginning with the launch, followed by a walk in space, and orbit of the Moon, a lunar landing and exploration and a return to Earth with an orbit and splash-down. Five enormous gatefold panoramas show the extraordinary lunar landscape.These photographs reveal not only the hardware of lunar exploration in exquisite details but also the profound aesthetics of space in what could be described as the ultimate landscape photography. The reader is encouraged to view these pictures as more than a spectacle. You start to experience them with a sense of the accompanying disorientation and excitement that the astronauts themselves would have felt. The Moon's surface and its extraordinary light are presented with awesome clarity.Full Moon was originally published in 1999 to mark the 30th anniversary of the first landing on the Moon. It was a milestone publication for the millennium, greeted with acclaim worldwide and published in eight countries. This new compact edition preserves all the superb quality of reproduction which was so evident in the original and makes this extraordinary work available to a still wider readership.

Tesla Papers


Nikola Tesla - 2000
    Tesla's rare article, 'The Problem of Increasing Human Energy with Special Reference to the Harnessing of the Sun's Energy' is included. This lengthy article was originally publishing in the June 1900 issue of The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine and it was the outline for Tesla's master blueprint for the world. Tesla's fantastic vision of the future, including wireless power, anti-gravity, free energy and highly advanced solar power. Also included are some of the papers, patents and material collected on Tesla at the Colorado Spring Tesla Symposiums. Tesla was the inventor of the radio before Marconi, and when he demonstrated wireless remote control to the US Navy in the late 1890s, they replied that it was too advanced! Tesla was an eccentric visionary and probably the greatest inventor who ever lived. His basic inventions power the world of today. What was his vision of tomorrow? Find out in The Tesla Papers.

Black Holes: The Reith Lectures


Stephen Hawking - 2016
    Black holes are stranger than anything dreamed up by science fiction writers.”In 2016 Professor Stephen Hawking delivered the BBC Reith Lectures on a subject that fascinated him for decades – black holes.In these flagship lectures the legendary physicist argued that if we could only understand black holes and how they challenge the very nature of space and time, we could unlock the secrets of the universe.

The Pioneer Detectives: Did a distant spacecraft prove Einstein and Newton wrong? (Kindle Single)


Konstantin Kakaes - 2013
    No one seemed able to agree on a cause. (Dark matter? Tensor–vector–scalar gravity? Collisions with gravitons?) What did seem clear to those who became obsessed with it was that the Pioneer Anomaly had the potential to upend Einstein and Newton—to change everything we know about the universe.With riveting prose and the precision of an expert, Konstantin Kakaes gives us a scientific police procedural, tracking the steps of those who sought to unravel this high-stakes enigma. His thrilling account draws on extensive interviews and archival research, following the story from the Anomaly’s initial discovery, through decades of tireless investigation, to its ultimate conclusion. “The Pioneer Detectives” is a definitive account not just of the Pioneer Anomaly but of how scientific knowledge gets made and unmade, with scientists sometimes putting their livelihoods on the line in pursuit of cosmic truth. Perfect for fans of John McPhee, Thomas Kuhn, and Ed McBain, this is also an immensely enjoyable story accessible to anyone who loves brilliant, fascinating long-form journalism.* * * ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Konstantin Kakaes is a Bernard L. Schwartz fellow at the New America Foundation, writing about science and technology, and is the former Mexico City bureau chief for The Economist. His work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy, and The Washington Post and appears frequently in Slate. Before becoming a journalist, he studied physics at Harvard University.

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.