Big and Bright: A History of the McDonald Observatory is the story of a remarkable collaboration between two major universities, one a prestigious private school, the other a growing southwestern state institution. The University of Chicago had astronomers, but its Yerkes Observatory was aging and underfunded; the University of Texas had money for an observatory but no working astronomer to staff it. Out of their mutual need, they formed a thirty-year compact for a joint venture. Unusual in its day, the Yerkes-McDonald connection presaged the future. In this arrangement, one can see some of the beginnings of today's consortium "big science."
Now the McDonald Observatory's early history can be put in proper perspective. Blessed with a gifted and driving founding director, the world's (then) second-largest telescope, and an isolation that permitted it to be virtually the only major astronomical observatory that continued operations throughout World War II, the staff of McDonald Observatory helped lay the foundations of modern astrophysics during the 1940s. For over a decade after the war, a lonely mountaintop in West Texas was the mecca that drew nearly all the most important astronomers from all over the world.
Based on personal reminiscences and archival material, as well as published historical sources, Big and Bright is one of the few histories of a major observatory, unique in its focus on the human side of the story.
David S. Evans (1916–2004) was Professor of Astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin.
J. Derral Mulholland (1934–2008) was research professor at the University of Florida Space Astronomy Laboratory.
Contributors: David Aubin, Charlotte Bigg, Guy Boistel, Theresa Levitt, Massimo Mazzotti, Ole Molvig, Simon Schaffer, Martina Schiavon , H. Otto Sibum, Richard Staley, John Tresch, Simon Werrett, Sven Widmalm
Loyal readers of the monthly "Universe" essays in Natural History magazine have long recognized Neil deGrasse Tyson's talent for guiding them through the mysteries of the cosmos with clarity and enthusiasm. Bringing together more than forty of Tyson's favorite essays, Death by Black Hole explores a myriad of cosmic topics, from what it would be like to be inside a black hole to the movie industry's feeble efforts to get its night skies right. One of America's best-known astrophysicists, Tyson is a natural teacher who simplifies the complexities of astrophysics while sharing his infectious fascination for our universe.
The payment card business has evolved from its inception in the 1950s as a way to handle payment for expense-account lunches (the Diners Club card) into today's complex, sprawling industry that drives trillions of dollars in transaction volume each year. Paying with Plastic is the definitive source on an industry that has revolutionized the way we borrow and spend. More than a history book, Paying with Plastic delivers an entertaining discussion of the impact of an industry that epitomizes the notion of two-sided markets: those in which two or more customer groups receive value only if all sides are actively engaged. New to this second edition, the two-sided market discussion provides useful insight into the implications of these market dynamics for cardholder rewards, merchant interchange fees, and card acceptance. The authors, both of whom have researched the industry for more than 25 years, also examine the implications of the recent antitrust cases on the industry as well as other business and technological changes—including the massive consolidation brought about by bank mergers, the rise of the debit card, and the emergence of e-commerce—that could alter the payment card industry dramatically in the years to come.