The Secret Lives of Planets: A User's Guide to the Solar System
Paul Murdin - 2019
Astronomer Paul Murdin's inside guide will help you learn all about the solar system and its planets and satellites. It looks at the universe from a longer perspective and reveals how Saturn's moon, Titan, boasts lakes which contain liquid methane surrounded by soaring hills and valleys (exactly as the earth did before life evolved); Mercury is the shyest planet; and that the biggest volcano on Mars is 10 times the depth of the Grand Canyon.
Sunshine Makes the Seasons
Franklyn Mansfield Branley - 1974
The sun shines on the Earth and keeps it warm.We have day and night because the Earth spins on its axis and we spend part of each day facing the sun and part of the day facing away from it. But why are days longer in the summer than in the winter? The answer to this question is explained through an experiment using a pencil, an orange, and a flashlight. And when you see this, you'll know the reasons for the seasons.
Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds
George W. Hudler - 1998
Fuzzy brown molds mischievously turn forgotten peaches to slime in the kitchen fruit bowl. And in thousands of other ways, members of the kingdom Fungi do their part to make life on Earth the miracle that it is. In this lively book, George Hudler leads us on a tour of an often-overlooked group of organisms, which differ radically from both animals and plants. Along the way the author stops to ponder the marvels of nature and the impact of mere microbes on the evolution of civilization. Nature's ultimate recyclers not only save us from drowning in a sea of organic waste, but also provide us with food, drink, and a wide array of valuable medicines and industrial chemicals.Some fungi make deadly poisons and psychedelic drugs that have interesting histories in and of themselves, and Hudler weaves tales of those into his scientific account of the nature of the fungi. The role of fungi in the Irish potato famine, in the Salem Witch Trials, in the philosophical writings of Greek scholars, and in the creation of ginger snaps are just a few of the many great moments in history to grace these pages.Hudler moves so easily from discussing human history to exploring scientific knowledge, all with a sense of humor and enthusiasm, that one can well understand why he is an award-winning teacher both at Cornell University as well as nationally. Few, for instance, who read his invitation to get out of your chair and take a short walk will ever again look without curiosity and admiration at the rotten part of the world around them. Magical Mushrooms, Mischievous Molds is full of information that will satisfy history buffs, science enthusiasts, and anyone interested in nature's miracles. Everyone in Hudler's audience will develop a new appreciation of the debt they owe to the molds for such common products as penicillin, wine, and bread.
Steve Jenkins - 1995
As the point of view moves gradually closer, we can see continents and oceans, then the East Coast of the United States, then a town (an imaginary one), until, finally, we are looking through a boy's magnifying glass at a ladybug. In his remarkable and detailed cut-paper illustrations, the artist takes us on an amazing journey from outer space to a young boy's front yard.
G. Brian Karas - 2005
All these amazing things happen because the earth is constantly in motion. Spinning and circling, gliding and tilting, as passengers of the earth, our voyage never ends!With poetic text and gorgeous illustrations, G. Brian Karas illuminates our earth and its cycles and does a brilliant job of making the concepts of rotation and revolution understandable to even the youngest readers.
Stargazing for Dummies
Steve Owens - 2012
Stars and other night sky objects can be seen with the naked eye, or seen in greater numbers and in more detail with binoculars or a telescope.Stargazing For Dummies offers you the chance to explore the night sky, providing a detailed guide to the main constellations and also offering advice on viewing other night sky objects such as planets and nebulae. It's a great introduction to a fun new hobby, and even provides a fun way to get the kids outside while doing something educational!Gives you an introduction to looking at the sky with binoculars or a telescope Offers advice on photographing the night sky Without needing to get your head around mind-bending theories, you can take part in some practical physics If you're looking for easy-to-follow guidance on getting to know the night sky, Stargazing For Dummies has you covered.
Quantum Space: Loop Quantum Gravity and the Search for the Structure of Space, Time, and the Universe
Jim Baggott - 2019
The first is Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, which describes the large-scale behaviour of matter in a curved spacetime. This theory is the basis for the standard model of big bang cosmology. The discovery of gravitational waves at the LIGO observatory in the US (and then Virgo, in Italy) is only the most recent of this theory's many triumphs.The second is quantum mechanics. This theory describes the properties and behaviour of matter and radiation at their smallest scales. It is the basis for the standard model of particle physics, which builds up all the visible constituents of the universe out of collections of quarks, electrons and force-carrying particles such as photons. The discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN in Geneva is only the most recent of this theory's many triumphs.But, while they are both highly successful, these two structures leave a lot of important questions unanswered. They are also based on two different interpretations of space and time, and are therefore fundamentally incompatible. We have two descriptions but, as far as we know, we've only ever had one universe. What we need is a quantum theory of gravity.Approaches to formulating such a theory have primarily followed two paths. One leads to String Theory, which has for long been fashionable, and about which much has been written. But String Theory has become mired in problems. In this book, Jim Baggott describes "the road less travelled": an approach which takes relativity as its starting point, and leads to a structure called Loop Quantum Gravity. Baggott tells the story through the careers and pioneering work of two of the theory's most prominent contributors, Lee Smolin and Carlo Rovelli. Combining clear discussions of both quantum theory and general relativity, this book offers one of the first efforts to explain the new quantum theory of space and time.
Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond Our Solar System
Ray Jayawardhana - 2011
Before the decade is out, telltale signs that they harbor life may be found. If they are, the ramifications for all areas of human thought and endeavor--from religion and philosophy to art and biology--will be breathtaking. In Strange New Worlds, renowned astronomer Ray Jayawardhana brings news from the front lines of the epic quest to find planets--and alien life--beyond our solar system.Only in the past fifteen years, after millennia of speculation, have astronomers begun to discover planets around other stars--hundreds in fact. But the hunt to find a true Earth-like world goes on. In this book, Jayawardhana vividly recounts the stories of the scientists and the remarkable breakthroughs that have ushered in this extraordinary age of exploration. He describes the latest findings--including his own--that are challenging our view of the cosmos and casting new light on the origins and evolution of planets and planetary systems. He reveals how technology is rapidly advancing to support direct observations of Jupiter-like gas giants and super-Earths--rocky planets with several times the mass of our own planet--and how astronomers use biomarkers to seek possible life on other worlds.Strange New Worlds provides an insider's look at the cutting-edge science of today's planet hunters, our prospects for discovering alien life, and the debates and controversies at the forefront of extrasolar-planet research.
Stars: A Very Short Introduction
Andrew R. King - 2012
In this lively and compact introduction, astrophysicist Andrew King reveals how the laws of physics force stars to evolve, driving them through successive stages of maturity before their inevitable and sometimes spectacular deaths, to end as remnants such as black holes. The book shows how we know what stars are made of, how gravity forces stars like the Sun to shine by transmuting hydrogen into helium in their centers, and why this stage is so long-lived and stable. Eventually the star ends its life in one of just three ways, and much of its enriched chemical content is blasted into space in its death throes. Every dead star is far smaller and denser than when it began, and we see how astronomers can detect these stellar corpses as pulsars and black holes and other exotic objects. King also shows how astronomers now use stars to measure properties of the Universe, such as its expansion. Finally, the book asks how it is that stars form in the first place, and how they re-form out of the debris left by stars already dead. These birth events must also be what made planets, not only in our solar system, but around a large fraction of all stars.
Lucky Planet: Why Earth is Exceptional-and What That Means for Life in the Universe
David Waltham - 2014
And as we discover countless exoplanets orbiting other stars—among them, rocky super-Earths and gaseous Hot Jupiters—we become ever more hopeful that we may come across extraterrestrial life. Yet even as we become aware of the vast numbers of planets outside our solar system, it has also become clear that Earth is exceptional. The question is: why?In Lucky Planet, astrobiologist David Waltham argues that Earth’s climate stability is one of the primary factors that makes it able to support life, and that nothing short of luck made such conditions possible. The four-billion-year stretch of good weather that our planet has experienced is statistically so unlikely, he shows, that chances are slim that we will ever encounter intelligent extraterrestrial others.Describing the three factors that typically control a planet’s average temperature—the heat received from its star, how much heat the planet absorbs, and the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—Waltham paints a complex picture of how special Earth’s climate really is. He untangles the mystery of why, although these factors have shifted by such massive measures over the history of life on Earth, surface temperatures have never fluctuated so much as to make conditions hostile to life. Citing factors such as the size of our Moon and the effect of an ever-warming Sun, Waltham challenges the prevailing scientific consensus that other Earth-like planets have natural stabilizing mechanisms that allow life to flourish.A lively exploration of the stars above and the ground beneath our feet, Lucky Planet seamlessly weaves the story of Earth and the worlds orbiting other stars to give us a new perspective of the surprising role chance plays in our place in the universe.
Earthrise: Apollo 8 and the Photo That Changed the World
James Gladstone - 2018
People marched for peace, fairness, and freedom. At the same time, the Apollo 8 crew was about to go farther into space than anyone had gone before--to the moon.As they surveyed the moon's surface, astronauts aboard Apollo 8 looked up just when Earth was rising out of the darkness of space. They saw the whole planet--no countries, no borders. The photograph they took, Earthrise, had a profound effect when published widely back on Earth, galvanizing the environmental movement, changing the way people saw our single, fragile home planet, and sparking hope during a year of unrest.This important and timely picture book is publishing to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission, telling the story behind the photograph, both inside the spaceship and back on Earth. Text includes dialogue pulled from NASA's Apollo 8 transcript, drawing readers into the moment Earth was first photographed in color from space. An author's note at the end explains more about the photograph, the Apollo 8 mission, and how Earthrise went on to inspire Earth Day.