A landmark volume in science writing by one of the great minds of our time, Stephen Hawking’s book explores such profound questions as: How did the universe begin—and what made its start possible? Does time always flow forward? Is the universe unending—or are there boundaries? Are there other dimensions in space? What will happen when it all ends?
Told in language we all can understand, A Brief History of Time plunges into the exotic realms of black holes and quarks, of antimatter and “arrows of time,” of the big bang and a bigger God—where the possibilities are wondrous and unexpected. With exciting images and profound imagination, Stephen Hawking brings us closer to the ultimate secrets at the very heart of creation.
Cosmos is one of the bestselling science books of all time. In clear-eyed prose, Sagan reveals a jewel-like blue world inhabited by a life form that is just beginning to discover its own identity and to venture into the vast ocean of space. Cosmos retraces the fourteen billion years of cosmic evolution that have transformed matter into consciousness, exploring such topics as the origin of life, the human brain, Egyptian hieroglyphics, spacecraft missions, the death of the Sun, the evolution of galaxies, and the forces and individuals who helped to shape modern science.
Praise for Cosmos
“Magnificent . . . With a lyrical literary style, and a range that touches almost all aspects of human knowledge, Cosmos often seems too good to be true.”—The Plain Dealer
“Sagan is an astronomer with one eye on the stars, another on history, and a third—his mind’s—on the human condition.”—Newsday
“Brilliant in its scope and provocative in its suggestions . . . shimmers with a sense of wonder.”—The Miami Herald
“Sagan dazzles the mind with the miracle of our survival, framed by the stately galaxies of space.”—Cosmopolitan
“Enticing . . . iridescent . . . imaginatively illustrated.”—The New York Times Book Review
NOTE: This edition does not include images.
“Where did the universe come from? What was there before it? What will the future bring? And finally, why is there something rather than nothing?”
One of the few prominent scientists today to have crossed the chasm between science and popular culture, Krauss describes the staggeringly beautiful experimental observations and mind-bending new theories that demonstrate not only can something arise from nothing, something will always arise from nothing. With a new preface about the significance of the discovery of the Higgs particle, A Universe from Nothing uses Krauss’s characteristic wry humor and wonderfully clear explanations to take us back to the beginning of the beginning, presenting the most recent evidence for how our universe evolved—and the implications for how it’s going to end.
Provocative, challenging, and delightfully readable, this is a game-changing look at the most basic underpinning of existence and a powerful antidote to outmoded philosophical, religious, and scientific thinking.
Experience the cosmos as never before with Brian Cox’s Wonders of the Universe, a gorgeously illustrated, full-color companion to his wildly popular miniseries on the Discovery Channel and BBC. Breathtaking images brighten Cox’s enthralling exploration of the fascinating science and overwhelming majesty of natural phenomena from ocean currents to black holes. Cox, called “Carl Sagan with a Britpop haircut” by the Los Angeles Times, follows in the footsteps of Stephen Hawking and Brian Greene in this riveting and dynamic tour through the Wonders of the Universe.
Interstellar, from acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, takes us on a fantastic voyage far beyond our solar system. Yet in The Science of Interstellar, Kip Thorne, the Nobel prize-winning physicist who assisted Nolan on the scientific aspects of Interstellar, shows us that the movie’s jaw-dropping events and stunning, never-before-attempted visuals are grounded in real science. Thorne shares his experiences working as the science adviser on the film and then moves on to the science itself. In chapters on wormholes, black holes, interstellar travel, and much more, Thorne’s scientific insights—many of them triggered during the actual scripting and shooting of Interstellar—describe the physical laws that govern our universe and the truly astounding phenomena that those laws make possible.
Interstellar and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (s14).
Kaku skillfully guides us through the latest innovations in string theory and its latest iteration, M-theory, which posits that our universe may be just one in an endless multiverse, a singular bubble floating in a sea of infinite bubble universes. If M-theory is proven correct, we may perhaps finally find answer to the question, “What happened before the big bang?” This is an exciting and unforgettable introduction into the new cutting-edge theories of physics and cosmology from one of the pre-eminent voices in the field.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
That August, a strange, prolonged heat wave gripped the nation and killed scores of people in New York and Chicago. Odd things seemed to happen everywhere: A plague of crickets engulfed Waco. The Bering Glacier began to shrink. Rain fell on Galveston with greater intensity than anyone could remember. Far away, in Africa, immense thunderstorms blossomed over the city of Dakar, and great currents of wind converged. A wave of atmospheric turbulence slipped from the coast of western Africa. Most such waves faded quickly. This one did not.
In Cuba, America's overconfidence was made all too obvious by the Weather Bureau's obsession with controlling hurricane forecasts, even though Cuba's indigenous weathermen had pioneered hurricane science. As the bureau's forecasters assured the nation that all was calm in the Caribbean, Cuba's own weathermen fretted about ominous signs in the sky. A curious stillness gripped Antigua. Only a few unlucky sea captains discovered that the storm had achieved an intensity no man alive had ever experienced.
In Galveston, reassured by Cline's belief that no hurricane could seriously damage the city, there was celebration. Children played in the rising water. Hundreds of people gathered at the beach to marvel at the fantastically tall waves and gorgeous pink sky, until the surf began ripping the city's beloved beachfront apart. Within the next few hours Galveston would endure a hurricane that to this day remains the nation's deadliest natural disaster. In Galveston alone at least 6,000 people, possibly as many as 10,000, would lose their lives, a number far greater than the combined death toll of the Johnstown Flood and 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
And Isaac Cline would experience his own unbearable loss.
Meticulously researched and vividly written, Isaac's Storm is based on Cline's own letters, telegrams, and reports, the testimony of scores of survivors, and our latest understanding of the hows and whys of great storms. Ultimately, however, it is the story of what can happen when human arrogance meets nature's last great uncontrollable force. As such, Isaac's Storm carries a warning for our time.
From the Hardcover edition.
--The Washington Post Book World (front page review)
In Cosmos, the late astronomer Carl Sagan cast his gaze over the magnificent mystery of the Universe and made it accessible to millions of people around the world. Now in this stunning sequel, Carl Sagan completes his revolutionary journey through space and time.
Future generations will look back on our epoch as the time when the human race finally broke into a radically new frontier--space. In Pale Blue Dot Sagan traces the spellbinding history of our launch into the cosmos and assesses the future that looms before us as we move out into our own solar system and on to distant galaxies beyond. The exploration and eventual settlement of other worlds is neither a fantasy nor luxury, insists Sagan, but rather a necessary condition for the survival of the human race.
"TAKES READERS FAR BEYOND Cosmos . . . Sagan sees humanity's future in the stars."
America’s space program is at a turning point. After decades of global primacy, NASA has ended the space-shuttle program, cutting off its access to space. No astronauts will be launched in an American craft, from American soil, until the 2020s, and NASA may soon find itself eclipsed by other countries’ space programs.
With his signature wit and thought-provoking insights, Neil deGrasse Tyson—one of our foremost thinkers on all things space—illuminates the past, present, and future of space exploration and brilliantly reminds us why NASA matters now as much as ever. As Tyson reveals, exploring the space frontier can profoundly enrich many aspects of our daily lives, from education systems and the economy to national security and morale. For America to maintain its status as a global leader and a technological innovator, he explains, we must regain our enthusiasm and curiosity about what lies beyond our world.
Provocative, humorous, and wonderfully readable, Space Chronicles represents the best of Tyson’s recent commentary, including a must-read prologue on NASA and partisan politics. Reflecting on topics that range from scientific literacy to space-travel missteps, Tyson gives us an urgent, clear-eyed, and ultimately inspiring vision for the future.
There's no better short book that explains just what Einstein did than Einstein's Cosmos. Keying Einstein's crucial discoveries to the simple mental images that inspired them, Michio Kaku finds a revealing new way to discuss his ideas, and delivers an appealing and always accessible introduction to Einstein's work.
The essential universe, from our most celebrated and beloved astrophysicist.
What is the nature of space and time? How do we fit within the universe? How does the universe fit within us? There’s no better guide through these mind-expanding questions than acclaimed astrophysicist and best-selling author Neil deGrasse Tyson.
But today, few of us have time to contemplate the cosmos. So Tyson brings the universe down to Earth succinctly and clearly, with sparkling wit, in tasty chapters consumable anytime and anywhere in your busy day.
While you wait for your morning coffee to brew, for the bus, the train, or a plane to arrive, Astrophysics for People in a Hurry will reveal just what you need to be fluent and ready for the next cosmic headlines: from the Big Bang to black holes, from quarks to quantum mechanics, and from the search for planets to the search for life in the universe.
“One of the year’s most entrancing books about science.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Clear, elegant...a whirlwind tour of some of the biggest ideas in physics.”—The New York Times Book Review
This playful, entertaining, and mind-bending introduction to modern physics briskly explains Einstein's general relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, black holes, the complex architecture of the universe, and the role humans play in this weird and wonderful world. Carlo Rovelli, a renowned theoretical physicist, is a delightfully poetic and philosophical scientific guide. He takes us to the frontiers of our knowledge: to the most minute reaches of the fabric of space, back to the origins of the cosmos, and into the workings of our minds. The book celebrates the joy of discovery. “Here, on the edge of what we know, in contact with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world,” Rovelli writes. “And it’s breathtaking.”
USAF Colonel Mike Mullane was a member of this astronaut class, and Riding Rockets is his story -- told with a candor never before seen in an astronaut's memoir. Mullane strips the heroic veneer from the astronaut corps and paints them as they are -- human. His tales of arrested development among military flyboys working with feminist pioneers and post-doc scientists are sometimes bawdy, often hilarious, and always entertaining.
Mullane vividly portrays every aspect of the astronaut experience -- from telling a female technician which urine-collection condom size is a fit; to walking along a Florida beach in a last, tearful goodbye with a spouse; to a wild, intoxicating, terrifying ride into space; to hearing "Taps" played over a friend's grave. Mullane is brutally honest in his criticism of a NASA leadership whose bungling would precipitate the Challenger disaster.
Riding Rockets is a story of life in all its fateful uncertainty, of the impact of a family tragedy on a nine-year-old boy, of the revelatory effect of a machine called Sputnik, and of the life-steering powers of lust, love, and marriage. It is a story of the human experience that will resonate long after the call of "Wheel stop."
Welcome to the Universe is a personal guided tour of the cosmos by three of today's leading astrophysicists. Inspired by the enormously popular introductory astronomy course that Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael A. Strauss, and J. Richard Gott taught together at Princeton, this book covers it all—from planets, stars, and galaxies to black holes, wormholes, and time travel.
Describing the latest discoveries in astrophysics, the informative and entertaining narrative propels you from our home solar system to the outermost frontiers of space. How do stars live and die? Why did Pluto lose its planetary status? What are the prospects of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe? How did the universe begin? Why is it expanding and why is its expansion accelerating? Is our universe alone or part of an infinite multiverse? Answering these and many other questions, the authors open your eyes to the wonders of the cosmos, sharing their knowledge of how the universe works.
Breathtaking in scope and stunningly illustrated throughout, Welcome to the Universe is for those who hunger for insights into our evolving universe that only world-class astrophysicists can provide.
The science classic made more accessible
• More concise • Illustrated
FROM ONE OF THE MOST BRILLIANT MINDS OF OUR TIME COMES A BOOK THAT CLARIFIES HIS MOST IMPORTANT IDEAS
Stephen Hawking’s worldwide bestseller A Brief History of Time remains a landmark volume in scientific writing. But for years readers have asked for a more accessible formulation of its key concepts—the nature of space and time, the role of God in creation, and the history and future of the universe. A Briefer History of Time is Professor Hawking’s response.
Although “briefer,” this book is much more than a mere explanation of Hawking’s earlier work. A Briefer History of Time both clarifies and expands on the great subjects of the original, and records the latest developments in the field—from string theory to the search for a unified theory of all the forces of physics. Thirty-seven full-color illustrations enhance the text and make A Briefer History of Time an exhilarating and must-have addition in its own right to the great literature of science and ideas.
This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
In Wonders of the Solar System – the book of the acclaimed BBC TV series – Professor Brian Cox will take us on a journey of discovery where alien worlds from your imagination become places we can see, feel and visit.
The Wonders of the Solar System – from the giant ice fountains of Enceladus to the liquid methane seas of Titan and from storms twice the size of the Earth to the tortured moon of Io with its giant super-volcanoes – is the Solar System as you have never seen it before.
In this series, Professor Brian Cox will introduce us to the planets and moons beyond our world, finding the biggest, most bizarre, most powerful natural phenomena. Using the latest scientific imagery along with cutting edge CGI and some of the most spectacular and extreme locations on Earth, Brian will show us Wonders never thought possible.
Employing his trademark clear, authoritative, yet down-to-earth approach, Brian will explore how these previously unseen phenomena have dramatically expanded our horizons with new discoveries about the planets, their moons and how
they came to be the way they are.
Lessons from Cape Horn,
An interview on storm survival and heaving to with the late Sir Peter Blake,
Heaving-to using a Gale Rider on 55 foot Morgan’s Cloud,
Adding Rudder Protection Stops.
Discussions on avoiding chafe, building and using storm staysails, choosing storm gear, when to deploy para-anchors, tactics for avoiding the worst areas of cyclonic storms and many more have been expanded to answer questions posed by readers and seminar attendees.
The authors outline how their positions have further diverged on a number of key issues, including the spatial geometry of the universe, inflationary versus cyclic theories of the cosmos, and the black-hole information-loss paradox. Though much progress has been made, Hawking and Penrose stress that physicists still have further to go in their quest for a quantum theory of gravity.
A heartfelt and personal journey filled with both humor and drama, How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming is the book for anyone, young or old, who has ever imagined exploring the universe—and who among us hasn’t?
Sixty-six million years ago, an object the size of a city descended from space to crash into Earth, creating a devastating cataclysm that killed off the dinosaurs, along with three-quarters of the other species on the planet. What was its origin? In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, Lisa Randall proposes it was a comet that was dislodged from its orbit as the Solar System passed through a disk of dark matter embedded in the Milky Way. In a sense, it might have been dark matter that killed the dinosaurs.
Working through the background and consequences of this proposal, Randall shares with us the latest findings—established and speculative—regarding the nature and role of dark matter and the origin of the Universe, our galaxy, our Solar System, and life, along with the process by which scientists explore new concepts. In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, Randall tells a breathtaking story that weaves together the cosmos’ history and our own, illuminating the deep relationships that are critical to our world and the astonishing beauty inherent in the most familiar things.
In this collection of his seven most important essays on physics, Einstein guides his reader step-by-step through the many layers of scientific theory that formed a starting point for his discoveries. By both supporting and refuting the theories and scientific efforts of his predecessors, Einstein reveals in a clear voice the origins and meaning of such significant topics as physics and reality, the fundamentals of theoretical physics, the common language of science, the laws of science and of ethics, and an elementary derivation of the equivalence of mass and energy.
This remarkable collection allows the general reader to understand not only the significance of Einstein’s masterpiece, but also the brilliant mind behind it.
This authorized ebook features a new introduction by Neil Berger and an illustrated biography of Albert Einstein, which includes rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the Albert Einstein Archives at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
When and how did the universe begin? Why are we here? What is the nature of reality? Is the apparent “grand design” of our universe evidence of a benevolent creator who set things in motion—or does science offer another explanation? In this startling and lavishly illustrated book, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow present the most recent scientific thinking about these and other abiding mysteries of the universe, in nontechnical language marked by brilliance and simplicity.
According to quantum theory, the cosmos does not have just a single existence or history. The authors explain that we ourselves are the product of quantum fluctuations in the early universe, and show how quantum theory predicts the “multiverse”—the idea that ours is just one of many universes that appeared spontaneously out of nothing, each with different laws of nature. They conclude with a riveting assessment of M-theory, an explanation of the laws governing our universe that is currently the only viable candidate for a “theory of everything”: the unified theory that Einstein was looking for, which, if confirmed, would represent the ultimate triumph of human reason.
According to astronomer Philip Plait, the universe is an apocalypse waiting to happen But how much do we really need to fear from things like black holes, gamma-ray bursts, and supernovae? And if we should be scared, is there anything we can do to save ourselves? With humor and wit, Plait details the myriad doomsday events that the cosmos could send our way to destroy our planet and life as we know it. This authoritative yet accessible study is the ultimate astronomy lesson.
Combining fascinating?and often alarming?scenarios that seem plucked from science fiction with the latest research and opinions, Plait illustrates why outer space is not as remote as most people think. Each chapter explores a different phenomenon, explaining it in easy-to-understand terms, and considering how life on earth and the planet itself would be affected should the event come to pass. Rather than sensationalizing the information, Plait analyzes the probability of these catastrophes occurring in our lifetimes and what we can do to stop them. With its entertaining tone and enlightening explanation of unfathomable concepts, Death from the Skies! will appeal to science buffs and beginners alike.
The Hockey Stick achieved prominence in a 2001 UN report on climate change and quickly became a central icon in the "climate wars." The real issue has never been the graph's data but rather its implied threat to those who oppose governmental regulation and other restraints to protect the environment and planet. Mann, lead author of the original paper in which the Hockey Stick first appeared, shares the story of the science and politics behind this controversy. He reveals key figures in the oil and energy industries and the media frontgroups who do their bidding in sometimes slick, sometimes bare-knuckled ways. Mann concludes with the real story of the 2009 "Climategate" scandal, in which climate scientists' emails were hacked. This is essential reading for all who care about our planet's health and our own well-being.
Sixty easy-to-read entries tackle such questions as: Is climate ever “normal”? Why and how do fossil-fuel burning and other human practices produce greenhouse gases? What natural forces have caused climate change in the past? What risks does climate change pose for human health? What accounts for the diminishment of mountain glaciers and small ice caps around the world since 1850? What are the economic costs and benefits of reducing carbon emissions?
Global Weirdness enlarges our understanding of how climate change affects our daily lives, and arms us with the incontrovertible facts we need to make informed decisions about the future of the planet and of humankind.
With black-and-white images interspersed throughout.
From the Hardcover edition.
Or to look back on Earth from outer space and see the surprisingly precise line between day and night? Or to stand in front of the Hubble Space Telescope, wondering if the emergency repair you’re about to make will inadvertently ruin humankind’s chance to unlock the universe’s secrets? Mike Massimino has been there, and in Spaceman he puts you inside the suit, with all the zip and buoyancy of life in microgravity.
Massimino’s childhood space dreams were born the day Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. Growing up in a working-class Long Island family, he catapulted himself to Columbia and then MIT, only to flunk his first doctoral exam and be rejected three times by NASA before making it through the final round of astronaut selection.
Taking us through the surreal wonder and beauty of his first spacewalk, the tragedy of losing friends in the Columbia shuttle accident, and the development of his enduring love for the Hubble Telescope—which he and his fellow astronauts were tasked with saving on his final mission—Massimino has written an ode to never giving up and the power of teamwork to make anything possible.
Spaceman invites us into a rare, wonderful world where science meets the most thrilling adventure, revealing just what having “the right stuff” really means.
"Bad Astronomy is just plain good! Philip Plait clears up everymisconception on astronomy and space you never knew you sufferedfrom." --Stephen Maran, Author of Astronomy for Dummies and editorof The Astronomy and Astrophysics Encyclopedia
"Thank the cosmos for the bundle of star stuff named Philip Plait,who is the world s leading consumer advocate for quality science inspace and on Earth. This important contribution to science willrest firmly on my reference library shelf, ready for easy accessthe next time an astrologer calls." --Dr. Michael Shermer,Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for ScientificAmerican, and author of The Borderlands of Science
"Philip Plait has given us a readable, erudite, informative,useful, and entertaining book. Bad Astronomy is Good Science. Verygood science..." --James "The Amazing" Randi, President, JamesRandi Educational Foundation, and author of An Encyclopedia ofClaims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural
"Bad Astronomy is a fun read. Plait is wonderfully witty andeducational as he debunks the myths, legends, and 'conspiraciesthat abound in our society. 'The Truth Is Out There' and it's inthis book. I loved it!" --Mike Mullane, Space Shuttle astronaut andauthor of Do Your Ears Pop in Space?
On New Years Day in 1925, a young Edwin Hubble released his finding that our Universe was far bigger, eventually measured as a thousand trillion times larger than previously believed. Hubble’s proclamation sent shock waves through the scientific community. Six years later, in a series of meetings at Mount Wilson Observatory, Hubble and others convinced Albert Einstein that the Universe was not static but in fact expanding. Here Marcia Bartusiak reveals the key players, battles of will, clever insights, incredible technology, ground-breaking research, and wrong turns made by the early investigators of the heavens as they raced to uncover what many consider one of most significant discoveries in scientific history.
In what will surely become one of the most provocative books ever written on the possibilities of life elsewhere in the universe, the incomparable Isaac Asimov provides chilling, hopeful, and exciting new insights. Here is astounding speculation about where the next giant step for mankind will take us. . . .
Praise for Extraterrestrial Civilizations
“[Isaac] Asimov holds our attention as he builds a meticulous case. We are not alone. It’s just a matter of time until we know for sure.”—Miami Herald
Two of America's leading investigators of unexplained phenomena -- Art Bell, the top-rated late-night radio talk-show host, and Whitley Strieber, No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of Communion and the legendary Nature's End -- have made a shocking discovery based on years of research with top scientists and archaeologists from around the world. Now, they reveal what powerful interests are trying to keep hidden: rapid changes in the atmosphere caused by greenhouse gases have set humanity on an incredibly dangerous course toward a catastrophic change in climate in the immediate future. It will begin with a massive, unprecedented storm that will devastate the Northern Hemisphere. This will be followed by floods unlike anything ever seen before -- or perhaps a new Ice Age. They also unearth evidence that this has happened in the past -- in fact, that it has occurred regularly throughout geologic history, but so infrequently that our only record of the last such storm is contained in ancient myths and flood legends.
From El Niño to the African droughts, to the shrinking of the polar ice caps, Bell and Strieber identify the warning signs to those willing to see. They point out that the Earth's regulatory system is like a rubber band: you can stretch it just so far before it snaps back -- with a vengeance. Since 1995, each successive year has set new records for violent weather. In 1999 a major climatological study predicted that the Earth will soon be warmer than it has been in millions of years. Bell and Strieber tell us why they believe a rebound is imminent -- a rapid and violent cooling that will cover the Northern Hemisphere in a sheath of choking ice and snow.
But it's not too late to reverse our destiny. No mere harbinger of an inevitable doomsday, The Coming Global Superstorm is instead a spirited call to action that offers a wealth of viable solutions to this mammoth challenge to humankind. Through a careful and impressively researched dissection of the myths and legends of ancient cultures and an insightful examination of the best of modern environmental science, Bell and Strieber guide us on an intellectual journey as dark as the murky origins of man and as bright as the promise of an interstellar future.
No one makes sense out of science like Isaac Asimov. Are you puzzled by pulsars? Baffled by black holes? Bewildered by the big bang? If so, here are succinct, crystal-clear answers to more than one hundred of the most significant questions about the essential nature of the universe—questions that have fired the imagination since the beginning of history.
Over the course of this fantastic voyage, the origins, the discoveries, and the stunning achievements of astronomy will unfold before your eyes. You will experience close encounters with giant planets, exploding stars, distant galaxies, and more. For anyone who has ever asked the ultimate questions, who has ever looked up at the sky and asked What in heaven is going on?, Isaac Asimov’s unique vision, skill, and authority will bring the big picture into focus.
“A fine introduction to modern astronomical theory.”—Library Journal
The theory of relativity reveals the speed of light as the cosmic speed limit, the mind-bending ideas of time dilation and curvature of spacetime, and what may be the most famous equation in history: E = mc2. Indeed, the theory of relativity shapes much of our modern understanding of the universe. It is not "just a theory"—every major prediction of relativity has been tested to exquisite precision, and its practical applications include the Global Positioning System (GPS). Amply illustrated and written in clear, accessible prose, Bennett's book proves anyone can grasp the basics of Einstein's ideas. His intuitive, nonmathematical approach gives a wide audience its first real taste of how relativity works and why it is so important to science and the way we view ourselves as human beings.
Short-listed for Physics World's Book of the Year
The Sunday Times (UK) Best Science Book of 2014
A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Science Book of Fall 2014
An NBC News Top Science and Tech Book of 2014
A Politics & Prose 2014 Staff Pick
In the sixteenth century, Nicolaus Copernicus dared to go against the establishment by proposing that Earth rotates around the Sun. Having demoted Earth from its unique position in the cosmos to one of mediocrity, Copernicus set in motion a revolution in scientific thought. This perspective has influenced our thinking for centuries. However, recent evidence challenges the Copernican Principle, hinting that we do in fact live in a special place, at a special time, as the product of a chain of unlikely events. But can we be significant if the Sun is still just one of a billion trillion stars in the observable universe? And what if our universe is just one of a multitude of others-a single slice of an infinity of parallel realities?
In The Copernicus Complex, the renowned astrophysicist Caleb Scharf takes us on a scientific adventure, from tiny microbes within the Earth to distant exoplanets, probability theory, and beyond, arguing that there is a solution to this contradiction, a third way of viewing our place in the cosmos, if we weigh the evidence properly. As Scharf explains, we do occupy an unusual time in a 14-billion-year-old universe, in a somewhat unusual type of solar system surrounded by an ocean of unimaginable planetary diversity: hot Jupiters with orbits of less than a day, planet-size rocks spinning around dead stars, and a wealth of alien super-Earths. Yet life here is built from the most common chemistry in the universe, and we are a snapshot taken from billions of years of biological evolution. Bringing us to the cutting edge of scientific discovery, Scharf shows how the answers to fundamental questions of existence will come from embracing the peculiarity of our circumstance without denying the Copernican vision.
With characteristic verve, Scharf uses the latest scientific findings to reconsider where we stand in the balance between cosmic significance and mediocrity, order and chaos. Presenting a compelling and bold view of our true status, The Copernicus Complex proposes a way forward in the ultimate quest: determining life's abundance, not just across this universe but across all realities.
There was a time when "universe" meant all there is. Everything. Yet, a number of theories are converging on the possibility that our universe may be but one among many parallel universes populating a vast multiverse. Here, Briane Greene, one of our foremost physicists and science writers, takes us on a breathtaking journey to a multiverse comprising an endless series of big bangs, a multiverse with duplicates of every one of us, a multiverse populated by vast sheets of spacetime, a multiverse in which all we consider real are holographic illusions, and even a multiverse made purely of math--and reveals the reality hidden within each.
Using his trademark wit and precision, Greene presents a thrilling survey of cutting-edge physics and confronts the inevitable question: How can fundamental science progress if great swaths of reality lie beyond our reach? The Hidden Reality is a remarkable adventure through a world more vast and strange than anything we could have imagined.
Sci-fi makes it look so easy. Receive a distress call from Alpha Centauri? No problem: punch the warp drive and you're there in minutes. Facing a catastrophe that can't be averted? Just pop back in the timestream and stop it before it starts. But for those of us not lucky enough to live in a science-fictional universe, are these ideas merely flights of fancy—or could it really be possible to travel through time or take shortcuts between stars?
Cutting-edge physics may not be able to answer those questions yet, but it does offer up some tantalizing possibilities. In Time Travel and Warp Drives, Allen Everett and Thomas A. Roman take readers on a clear, concise tour of our current understanding of the nature of time and space—and whether or not we might be able to bend them to our will. Using no math beyond high school algebra, the authors lay out an approachable explanation of Einstein's special relativity, then move through the fundamental differences between traveling forward and backward in time and the surprising theoretical connection between going back in time and traveling faster than the speed of light. They survey a variety of possible time machines and warp drives, including wormholes and warp bubbles, and, in a dizzyingly creative chapter, imagine the paradoxes that could plague a world where time travel was possible—killing your own grandfather is only one of them!
Written with a light touch and an irrepressible love of the fun of sci-fi scenarios—but firmly rooted in the most up-to-date science, Time Travel and Warp Drives will be a delightful discovery for any science buff or armchair chrononaut.
Fifty years ago, a young astronomer named Frank Drake first pointed a radio telescope at nearby stars in the hope of picking up a signal from an alien civilization. Thus began one of the boldest scientific projects in history, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). After a half-century of scanning the skies, however, astronomers have little to report but an eerie silence—eerie because many scientists are convinced that the universe is teeming with life. Physicist and astrobiologist Paul Davies has been closely involved with SETI for three decades and chairs the SETI Post-Detection Taskgroup, charged with deciding what to do if we’re suddenly confronted with evidence of alien intelligence. He believes the search so far has fallen into an anthropocentric trap—assuming that an alien species will look, think, and behave much like us. In this provocative book Davies refocuses the search, challenging existing ideas of what form an alien intelligence might take, how it might try to communicate with us, and how we should respond if it does.
“In this slight volume, Lightman looks toward the universe and captures aspects of it in a series of beautifully written essays, each offering a glimpse at the whole from a different perspective: here time, there symmetry, not least God. It is a meditation by a remarkable humanist-physicist, a book worth reading by anyone entranced by big ideas grounded in the physical world.”
—Peter L. Galison, Joseph Pellegrino University Professor, Harvard University
The canopy voyagers are young–just college students when they start their quest–and they share a passion for these trees, persevering in spite of sometimes crushing personal obstacles and failings. They take big risks, they ignore common wisdom (such as the notion that there’s nothing left to discover in North America), and they even make love in hammocks stretched between branches three hundred feet in the air.
The deep redwood canopy is a vertical Eden filled with mosses, lichens, spotted salamanders, hanging gardens of ferns, and thickets of huckleberry bushes, all growing out of massive trunk systems that have fused and formed flying buttresses, sometimes carved into blackened chambers, hollowed out by fire, called “fire caves.” Thick layers of soil sitting on limbs harbor animal and plant life that is unknown to science. Humans move through the deep canopy suspended on ropes, far out of sight of the ground, knowing that the price of a small mistake can be a plunge to one’s death.
Preston’s account of this amazing world, by turns terrifying, moving, and fascinating, is an adventure story told in novelistic detail by a master of nonfiction narrative. The author shares his protagonists’ passion for tall trees, and he mastered the techniques of tall-tree climbing to tell the story in The Wild Trees–the story of the fate of the world’s most splendid forests and of the imperiled biosphere itself.
From the Hardcover edition.
This latest edition of Atmospheric Science, has been revamped in terms of content and appearance. It contains new chapters on atmospheric chemistry, the Earth system, the atmospheric boundary layer, and climate, as well as enhanced treatment of atmospheric dynamics, radiative transfer, severe storms, and global warming. The authors illustrate concepts with full-color, state-of-the-art imagery and cover a vast amount of new information in the field. Extensive numerical and qualitative exercises help students apply basic physical principles to atmospheric problems. There are also biographical footnotes summarizing the work of key scientists, along with a student companion website that hosts climate data; answers to quantitative exercises; full solutions to selected exercises; skew-T log p chart; related links, appendices; and more. The instructor website features: instructor’s guide; solutions to quantitative exercises; electronic figures from the book; plus supplementary images for use in classroom presentations.
Meteorology students at both advanced undergraduate and graduate levels will find this book extremely useful.Full-color satellite imagery and cloud photographs illustrate principles throughoutExtensive numerical and qualitative exercises emphasize the application of basic physical principles to problems in the atmospheric sciencesBiographical footnotes summarize the lives and work of scientists mentioned in the text, and provide students with a sense of the long history of meteorologyCompanion website encourages more advanced exploration of text topics: supplementary information, images, and bonus exercises
-How close are we to creating robots that look and act like R2-D2 and C-3PO?
-Can we access a "force" with our minds to move objects and communicate telepathically with each other?
-How might spaceships like the Millennium Falcon make the exhilarating jump into hyperspace?
-What kind of environment could spawn a Wookiee?
-Could a single blast from the Death Star destroy an entire planet?
-Could light sabers possibly be built, and if so, how would they work?
-Do Star Wars aliens look like "real" aliens might?
-What would living on a desert planet like Tatooine be like?
-Why does Darth Vader require an artificial respirator?
Discover the answers to these and many other fascinating questions of physics, astronomy, biology and more, as a noted scientist and Star Wars enthusiast explores The Science of Star Wars.
Richard Preston's name became a household word with The Hot Zone, which sold nearly 800,000 copies in hardcover, was on The New York Times's bestseller list for 42 weeks, and was the subject of countless magazine and newspaper articles. Preston has become a sought-after commentator on popular science subjects.
From the National Book Award finalist Lauren Redniss, author of Radioactive, comes a dazzling fusion of storytelling, visual art, and reportage that grapples with weather in all its dimensions: its danger and its beauty, why it happens and what it means.
WINNER OF THE PEN/E. O. WILSON LITERARY SCIENCE WRITING AWARD • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, KIRKUS REVIEWS, AND SHELF AWARENESS
Weather is the very air we breathe—it shapes our daily lives and alters the course of history. In Thunder & Lightning, Lauren Redniss tells the story of weather and humankind through the ages.
This wide-ranging work roams from the driest desert on earth to a frigid island in the Arctic, from the Biblical flood to the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Redniss visits the headquarters of the National Weather Service, recounts top-secret rainmaking operations during the Vietnam War, and examines the economic impact of disasters like Hurricane Katrina. Drawing on extensive research and countless interviews, she examines our own day and age, from our most personal decisions—Do I need an umbrella today?—to the awesome challenges we face with global climate change.
Redniss produced each element of Thunder & Lightning: the text, the artwork, the covers, and every page in between. She created many of the images using the antiquated printmaking technique copper plate photogravure etching. She even designed the book’s typeface.
The result is a book unlike any other: a spellbinding combination of storytelling, art, and science.
Praise for Thunder & Lightning
“[An] aesthetically charged and deeply researched account . . . a wild rainstorm of a book, pelting the reader with ideas and inspiration.”—Nature
“A gorgeous and illuminating illustrated study of weather in all its tempestuous variety . . . Redniss’s combo of fact, folklore, and vibrant etched copperplate prints enthralls.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Eerily beautiful . . . Contains plenty of scientific explanation (including more than a few nods toward global warming), but also far-flung personal stories that illuminate the beauty, wonder and chaos inherent in the elements.”—The New York Times
“Magical . . . Redniss has . . . shown us how human beings live with nature—fighting, coexisting, taming, predicting via leech barometer and radar and intuition.”—The New York Times Book Review
“[A] twenty-first-century genius . . . The reader willing to put herself fully in Redniss’s hands will be rewarded with a delicious feeling of being enveloped by a phenomenon that eclipses the chiming trivialities of daily life.”—Elle
“Redniss is one of the most creative science writers of our time—her combination of beautiful artwork, reporting, and poetic prose brings science to life in ways that words alone simply cannot.”—Rebecca Skloot
“Redniss combines her own dual punch of expressive art and impressive erudition to give an entirely new take on all that happens above our heads.”—Adam Gopnik
“A strange and wonderful thing, the work of a first-class mind that refuses to submit to any categories or precedent.”—Dave Eggers
Using interviews, NASA oral histories, and recently declassified material, Into the Black pieces together the dramatic untold story of the Columbia mission and the brave people who dedicated themselves to help the United States succeed in the age of space exploration. On April 12, 1981, NASA’s Space Shuttle Columbia blasted off from Cape Canaveral. It was the most advanced, state-of-the-art flying machine ever built, challenging the minds and imagination of America’s top engineers and pilots. Columbia was the world’s first real spaceship: a winged rocket plane, the size of an airliner, and capable of flying to space and back before preparing to fly again.
On board were moonwalker John Young and test pilot Bob Crippen. Less than an hour after Young and Crippen’s spectacular departure from the Cape, all was not well. Tiles designed to protect the ship from the blowtorch burn of re-entry were missing from the heat shield. If the damage to Columbia was too great, the astronauts wouldn’t be able to return safely to earth. NASA turned to the National Reconnaissance Office, a spy agency hidden deep inside the Pentagon whose very existence was classified. To help the ship, the NRO would attempt something never done before. Success would require skill, perfect timing, and luck.
Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, Into the Black is a thrilling race against time and the incredible true story of the first space shuttle mission that celebrates our passion for spaceflight.