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History of Astronomy
Theories of the World from Antiquity to the Copernican Revolution
Theories of the World from Antiquity to the Copernican Revolution
Paperback      ISBN: 0486261735
The Hunt for Vulcan: And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe
The Hunt for Vulcan
And How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe
Hardcover      ISBN: 0812998987
The captivating, all-but-forgotten story of Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and the search for a planet that never existed

For more than fifty years, the world's top scientists searched for the "missing" planet Vulcan, whose existence was mandated by Isaac Newton's theories of gravity. Countless hours were spent on the hunt for the elusive orb, and some of the era's most skilled astronomers even claimed to have found it.

There was just one problem: It was never there.

In The Hunt for Vulcan, Thomas Levenson follows the visionary scientists who inhabit the story of the phantom planet, starting with Isaac Newton, who in 1687 provided an explanation for all matter in motion throughout the universe, leading to Urbain-Jean-Joseph Le Verrier, who almost two centuries later built on Newton's theories and discovered Neptune, becoming the most famous scientist in the world. Le Verrier attempted to surpass that triumph by predicting the existence of yet another planet in our solar system, Vulcan.

It took Albert Einstein to discern that the mystery of the missing planet was a problem not of measurements or math but of Newton's theory of gravity itself. Einstein's general theory of relativity proved that Vulcan did not and could not exist, and that the search for it had merely been a quirk of operating under the wrong set of assumptions about the universe. Levenson tells the previously untold tale of how the "discovery" of Vulcan in the nineteenth century set the stage for Einstein's monumental breakthrough, the greatest individual intellectual achievement of the twentieth century.

A dramatic human story of an epic quest, The Hunt for Vulcan offers insight into how science really advances (as opposed to the way we're taught about it in school) and how the best work of the greatest scientists reveals an artist's sensibility. Opening a new window onto our world, Levenson illuminates some of our most iconic ideas as he recounts one of the strangest episodes in the history of science.

Praise for The Hunt for Vulcan

"Delightful . . . a charming tale about an all-but-forgotten episode in science history."--The Wall Street Journal

"Engaging . . . At heart, this is a story about how science advances, one insight at a time. But the immediacy, almost romance, of Levenson's writing makes it almost novelistic."--The Washington Post

"Captures the drama of the tireless search for this celestial object."--Science

"A well-structured, fast-paced example of exemplary science writing."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A short, beautifully produced book that tells a cautionary tale . . . Levenson is a breezy writer who renders complex ideas in down-to-earth language."--The Boston Globe

"An inspiring tale about the quest for discovery."--Walter Isaacson

"Equal to the best science writing I've read anywhere, by any author. Beautifully composed, rich in historical context, deeply researched, it is, above all, great storytelling."--Alan Lightman, author of The Accidental Universe

"Levenson tells us where Vulcan came from, how it vanished, and why its spirit lurks today. Along the way, we learn more than a bit of just how science works--when it succeeds as well as when it fails."--Neil deGrasse Tyson

"Science writing at its best. This book is not just learned, passionate, and witty--it is profoundly wise."--Junot Diaz
Coming of Age in the Milky Way
Coming of Age in the Milky Way
Paperback      ISBN: 0060535954

From the second-century celestial models of Ptolemy to modern-day research institutes and quantum theory, this classic book offers a breathtaking tour of astronomy and the brilliant, eccentric personalities who have shaped it. From the first time mankind had an inkling of the vast space that surrounds us, those who study the universe have had to struggle against political and religious preconceptions. They have included some of the most charismatic, courageous, and idiosyncratic thinkers of all time. In Coming of Age in the Milky Way, Timothy Ferris uses his unique blend of rigorous research and captivating narrative skill to draw us into the lives and minds of these extraordinary figures, creating a landmark work of scientific history.

Agnes Mary Clerke and the Rise of Astrophysics
Agnes Mary Clerke and the Rise of Astrophysics
Hardcover      ISBN: 0521808448

Born in Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century, Agnes Mary Clerke achieved fame as the author of A History of Astronomy during the nineteenth century. Through her quarter-century career, she became the leading commentator on astronomy and astrophysics in the English-speaking world. This biography describes not only the life and work of this extraordinary woman, but also chronicles the development of astronomy in the last decades of pre-Einstein science. Along the way, it introduces many of the great figures in astronomy of that age, including Huggins, Lockyer, Holden, and Pickering.

Agnes Mary Clerke and the Rise of Astrophysics
Agnes Mary Clerke and the Rise of Astrophysics
1st Edition    Paperback      ISBN: 0521055792

Born in Ireland in the mid-nineteenth century, Agnes Mary Clerke achieved fame as the author of A History of Astronomy during the nineteenth century. Through her quarter-century career, she became the leading commentator on astronomy and astrophysics in the English-speaking world. This biography describes not only the life and work of this extraordinary woman, but also chronicles the development of astronomy in the last decades of pre-Einstein science. Along the way, it introduces many of the great figures in astronomy of that age, including Huggins, Lockyer, Holden, and Pickering.

Astronomies and Cultures in Early Medieval Europe
Astronomies and Cultures in Early Medieval Europe
Paperback      ISBN: 0521778522

Historians have long recognized that the rebirth of science in twelfth-century Europe flowed from a search for ancient scientific texts. But this search presupposes knowledge and interest; we only seek what we know to be valuable. The emergence of scholarly interest after centuries of apparent stagnation seems paradoxical. This book resolves that seeming contradiction by describing four active traditions of early medieval astronomy: one divided the year by observing the Sun; another computed the date of Easter Full Moon; the third determined the time for monastic prayers by watching the course of the stars; and the classical tradition of geometrical astronomy provided a framework for the cosmos. Most of these astronomies were practical; they sustained the communities in which they flourished and reflected and reinforced the values of those communities. These astronomical traditions motivated the search for ancient learning that led to the Scientific Renaissance of the twelfth century.

Astronomies and Cultures in Early Medieval Europe
Astronomies and Cultures in Early Medieval Europe
Hardcover      ISBN: 0521583616

Historians have long recognized that the rebirth of science in twelfth-century Europe flowed from a search for ancient scientific texts. But this search presupposes knowledge and interest; we only seek what we know to be valuable. The emergence of scholarly interest after centuries of apparent stagnation seems paradoxical. This book resolves that seeming contradiction by describing four active traditions of early medieval astronomy: one divided the year by observing the Sun; another computed the date of Easter Full Moon; the third determined the time for monastic prayers by watching the course of the stars; and the classical tradition of geometrical astronomy provided a framework for the cosmos. Most of these astronomies were practical; they sustained the communities in which they flourished and reflected and reinforced the values of those communities. These astronomical traditions motivated the search for ancient learning that led to the Scientific Renaissance of the twelfth century.

Astronomy Across Cultures: The History of Non-Western Astronomy
Astronomy Across Cultures
The History of Non-Western Astronomy
Hardcover      ISBN: 0792363639
Astronomy Across Cultures: A History of Non-Western Astronomy consists of essays dealing with the astronomical knowledge and beliefs of cultures outside the United States and Europe. In addition to articles surveying Islamic, Chinese, Native American, Aboriginal Australian, Polynesian, Egyptian and Tibetan astronomy, among others, the book includes essays on Sky Tales and Why We Tell Them and Astronomy and Prehistory, and Astronomy and Astrology. The essays address the connections between science and culture and relate astronomical practices to the cultures which produced them. Each essay is well illustrated and contains an extensive bibliography. Because the geographic range is global, the book fills a gap in both the history of science and in cultural studies. It should find a place on the bookshelves of advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, and scholars, as well as in libraries serving those groups.
Between Copernicus and Galileo: Christoph Clavius and the Collapse of Ptolemaic Cosmology
Between Copernicus and Galileo
Christoph Clavius and the Collapse of Ptolemaic Cosmology
Paperback      ISBN: 0226469298
Between Copernicus and Galileo is the story of Christoph Clavius, the Jesuit astronomer and teacher whose work helped set the standards by which Galileo's famous claims appeared so radical, and whose teachings guided the intellectual and scientific agenda of the Church in the central years of the Scientific Revolution.

Though relatively unknown today, Clavius was enormously influential throughout Europe in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries through his astronomy books--the standard texts used in many colleges and universities, and the tools with which Descartes, Gassendi, and Mersenne, among many others, learned their astronomy. James Lattis uses Clavius's own publications as well as archival materials to trace the central role Clavius played in integrating traditional Ptolemaic astronomy and Aristotelian natural philosophy into an orthodox cosmology. Although Clavius strongly resisted the new cosmologies of Copernicus and Tycho, Galileo's invention of the telescope ultimately eroded the Ptolemaic world view.
By tracing Clavius's views from medieval cosmology the seventeenth century, Lattis illuminates the conceptual shift from Ptolemaic to Copernican astronomy and the social, intellectual, and theological impact of the Scientific Revolution.
The Cambridge Concise History of Astronomy
The Cambridge Concise History of Astronomy
Paperback      ISBN: 0521576008

Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences, and one which has repeatedly led to fundamental changes in our view of the world. This book covers the history of our study of the cosmos from prehistory to a survey of modern astronomy and astrophysics. It does not attempt to cover everything, but deliberately concentrates on the important themes and topics, including stellar astronomy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries--the source of many important concepts in modern astronomy--and the Copernican revolution, which led to the challenge of ancient authorities in many areas other than astronomy. This is an essential text for students of the history of science and for students of astronomy who require a historical background to their studies.