Space Exploration
Featured Items
Von Braun: Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War
Von Braun
Dreamer of Space, Engineer of War
1st Edition    Hardcover      ISBN: 0307262928

The first authoritative biography of Wernher von Braun, chief rocket engineer of the Third Reich--creator of the infamous V-2 rocket--who became one of the fathers of the U.S. space program. In this meticulously researched and vividly written life, Michael J. Neufeld gives us a man of profound moral complexities, glorified as a visionary and vilified as a war criminal, a man whose brilliance and charisma were coupled with an enormous and, some would say, blinding ambition.
As one of the leading developers of rocket technology for the German army, von Braun yielded to pressure to join the Nazi Party in 1937 and reluctantly became an SS officer in 1940. During the war, he supervised work on the V-2s, which were assembled by starving slave laborers in a secret underground plant and then fired against London and Antwerp. Thousands of prisoners died--a fact he well knew and kept silent about for as long as possible.
When the Allies overran Germany, von Braun and his team surrendered to the Americans. The U.S. Army immediately recognized his skills and brought him and his colleagues to America to work on the development of guided missiles, in a covert operation that became known as Project Paperclip. He helped launch the first American satellite in 1958 and headed NASA's launch-vehicle development for the Apollo Moon landing.
Handsome and likable, von Braun dedicated himself to selling the American public on interplanetary travel and became a household name in the 1950s, appearing on Disney TV shows and writing for popular magazines. But he never fully escaped his past, and in later years he faced increasing questions as his wartime actions slowly came to light.
Based on new sources, "Von Braun" is a brilliantly nuanced portrait of a man caught between morality and progress, between his dreams of the heavens and the earthbound realities of his life.

Our Sun: Biography of a Star
Our Sun
Biography of a Star
Hardcover      ISBN: 1937994198

Our sun is one star among 50 billion in the galaxy. Our galaxy is only one among 50 billion in the universe. With a vastness this incomprehensible, it is easy to feel like we are mere specks of sand on an endless shore. But our sun is special. Though roughly 150 million kilometers separate us, we could not be more connected. Literally, everything you see comes from the sun. The words you are reading now are really photons that left the sun about 8 minutes ago only to bounce off this page and into your eyes. We owe our very existence to our sun. It provides just enough heat to keep our fragile bodies from freezing to ice or burning to a crisp. Every bite of food we eat we owe to the sun, whose energy is converted into plants that provide sustenance for everything up the food chain.

We have understood the sun's importance for millennia. The earliest humans, awestruck by its blazing splendor, left drawings of the sun on cave walls. Nearly every civilization, no matter where it sprang up on the planet, has revered the sun. Myths about the sun were the basis of the earliest deities of ancient Sumerian, Hindu, Egyptian, Chinese, and Meso-American cultures. Before Apollo, the ancient Greeks worshiped the sun-god Helios. Before Zeus, the ancient Romans worshiped Sol.

Throughout our history, the sun has been central to humanity's quest for meaning in the universe. But our history has been a brief moment in our sun's 4.5 billion year life. Only recently, through advances in science and technology, have we begun to understand our sun - where it came from, how it functions, how it affects our lives and how it eventually will destroy our planet.

Our Sun is a comprehensive, easy-to-understand guide to everything we know about our closest star. Illustrated with stunning pictures from NASA's newly-launched Solar Dynamics Observatory, Our Sun will reveal the science behind the sun, trace its impact on human history, and reveal its growing importance to our future way of life.

Long-Range Correlations in Astrophysical Systems
Long-Range Correlations in Astrophysical Systems
Paperback      ISBN: 1573311138
The Grand Design
The Grand Design
Paperback      ISBN: 055338466x


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.
The Physics of Star Trek
The Physics of Star Trek
Paperback      ISBN: 0465002048
How does the Star Trek universe stack up against the real universe?

What warps when you're traveling at warp speed? What is the difference between a wormhole and a black hole? Are time loops really possible, and can I kill my grandmother before I am born? Anyone who has ever wondered could this really happen? will gain useful insights into the Star Trek universe (and, incidentally, the real world of physics) in this charming and accessible guide. Lawrence M. Krauss boldly goes where Star Trek has gone-and beyond. From Newton to Hawking, from Einstein to Feynman, from Kirk to Picard, Krauss leads readers on a voyage to the world of physics as we now know it and as it might one day be.
Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe
Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs
The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe
Hardcover      ISBN: 0062328476

In this brilliant exploration of our cosmic environment, the renowned particle physicist and New York Times bestselling author of Warped Passages and Knocking on Heaven's Door uses her research into dark matter to illuminate the startling connections between the furthest reaches of space and life here on Earth.

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.

The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew
The Accidental Universe
The World You Thought You Knew
Paperback      ISBN: 034580595x

With passion and curiosity, Alan Lightman explores the emotional and philosophical questions raised by recent discoveries in science. He looks at the dialogue between science and religion; the conflict between our human desire for permanence and the impermanence of nature; the possibility that our universe is simply an accident; the manner in which modern technology has separated us from direct experience of the world; and our resistance to the view that our bodies and minds can be explained by scientific logic and laws.

Behind all of these considerations is the suggestion--at once haunting and exhilarating--that what we see and understand of the world is only a tiny piece of the extraordinary, perhaps unfathomable whole.
Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe
Paperback      ISBN: 1101903562
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - Have you ever wondered what it would be like to find yourself strapped to a giant rocket that's about to go from zero to 17,500 miles per hour?

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.
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
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Hardcover      ISBN: 0393609391

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.