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Archives of the Universe: 100 Discoveries That Transformed Our Understanding of the Cosmos [Paperback]

Marcia Bartusiak
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 11, 2006 0375713689 978-0375713682
An unparalleled history of astronomy presented in the words of the scientists who made the discoveries. Here are the writings of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Halley, Hubble, and Einstein, as well as that of dozens of others who have significantly contributed to our picture of the universe.

From Aristotle's proof that the Earth is round to the 1998 paper that posited an accelerating universe, this book contains 100 entries spanning the history of astronomy. Award-winning science writer Marcia Bartusiak provides enormously entertaining introductions, putting the material in context and explaining its place in the literature. Archives of the Universe is essential reading for professional astronomers, science history buffs, and backyard stargazers alike.

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Archives of the Universe: 100 Discoveries That Transformed Our Understanding of the Cosmos + The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Cosmos (Princeton Science Library)
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Editorial Reviews


"Extraordinary. . . . A rich archaeological dig. . . . Bartusiak . . .introduces these astronomers with deftly written, insightful commentary. . . . [A] wonderful book."
Sky & Telescope

"[Bartusiak] provides a helpful road map with her lucid explanatory essays and annotation."
The New York Times

"Bartusiak has done astronomy a great favor."
New Scientist

"The reader gets not only a clear and concise history of astronomy . . . in Bartusiak's fine introductions . . . but also excerpts from many of the memorable papers written by the scientists who made the pivotal astronomical discoveries." —Scientific American

About the Author

Marcia Bartusiak is the author of Thursday’s Universe, Through a Universe Darkly, and Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony. Her work has appeared in many magazines, including Astronomy, National Geographic, Discover, Science, and Smithsonian. A two-time winner of the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award, she teaches in the graduate program in science writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and lives in Sudbury, Massachusetts, with her husband.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (April 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375713689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375713682
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Combining her training as a journalist with a master's degree in physics, Marcia Bartusiak has been covering the fields of astronomy and physics for three decades. She is currently a professor of the practice in the Graduate Program in Science Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has published in a variety of publications, including Science, Smithsonian, Discover, Technology Review, National Geographic, and Astronomy. She is the author of "Thursday's Universe," a guide to the frontiers of astrophysics; "Through a Universe Darkly," a history of astronomers' quest to discover the universe's composition; and "Einstein's Unfinished Symphony," a chronicle of the international attempt to detect cosmic gravity waves. All three were named notable books by the New York Times. She went on to write "Archives of the Universe," an anthology and commentary on the historic discovery papers in astronomy, and most recently "The Day We Found the Universe," on the birth of modern cosmology, which won the Davis Prize from the History of Science Society. Bartusiak is also a two-time winner of the American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award and in 2006 garnered the AIP's prestigious Gemant Award for her "significant contributions to the cultural, artistic, or humanistic dimension of physics." In 2008 Bartusiak was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, cited for "exceptionally clear communication of the rich history, the intricate nature, and the modern practice of astronomy to the public at large." Bartusiak lives with her husband, mathematician Steve Lowe, and their dog Hubble, a bearded collie, in a suburb of Boston.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeing the past and present in the heavens April 13, 2006
Back during my undergraduate days, one of the most interesting courses that I took was the history of astronomy, and I wish this book had been available. While that course was very good at introducing the different ways in which the universe was perceived and conceived through the different cultures and periods of history, we were often reading second-hand or third-hand accounts. So much of education these days seems to consist of second-hand and third-hand analyses and retellings, working on the assumption that the original texts are too difficult, too arcane, or too 'something' to be useful and understood. Sometimes this might be true; however, making allowances for translation from different languages, I still believe, as obviously the author of this text does, that there is much to be gained by reading the actual words of scientists and philosophers themselves as they first formulated and wrote down their ideas.

This is a text of excerpts from primary documents that have had significant influence in the direction of astronomy and astrophysics in particular, and science and philosophy more generally. These are grouped into eight broad categories: The Ancient Sky, Revolutions, Taking Measure, Touching the Heavens, Einsteinian Cosmos, The Milky Way and Beyond, New Eyes, New Universe, and Accelerating Outward. These each include a half-dozen to a dozen different documents.

Bartusiak introduces each document with a brief essay that sets context both in general history as well as the progress of science, and discusses the importance and influence of the documents for later developments.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing, Wonderful Book April 19, 2007
This book is a masterpiece! It presents excerpts from 100 seminal works from the ancient Greeks to Newton, to Einstein, and up to the last decade. Many of the excerpts are only a couple of pages long, and most or all of the math has been removed. Each group of excerpts are preceded by a short, concise piece written by the author that sets the stage for that series. Amazing! This book brings you into the discovery process. You can read pieces of the early papers on quasars, and sense the incredulity at these amazing objects. You can read Einstein work around the mass-energy equivalence, but not quite get to E=MC^^2. You'll read how Fred Hoyle, proponent of the Steady State Universe, inadvertently coined the term for the "other side" of the debate with "Big Bang." This book is full of gems. Because each section is so short, you won't have to wade far down a tunnel of complex notions--instead you'll get instant gratification. It makes for a great read when you only have a few minutes because you can follow one thread to its conclusion. Wow. If you have any interest in astronomy or cosmology this book is simply a must read!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary Resource April 11, 2011
What a great idea: 100 original papers that describe the greatest moments in astronomical history in the words of the people that made the discovery. Ranges from Mayan observations of Venus to the sky opening with telescopes and on into pulsars, gravity waves and neutrino astronomy. Includes original diagrams and illustrations.

What a great execution: Bartusiak has an advanced degree in physics, has written for magazines like National Geographic, Astronomy, Sky & Telescope (and many more), and is currently a MIT professor in their Science Writing program. She has introduced, arranged and edited the papers to perfection. A page or two sets the historical and scientific scene, and then we have a couple of seminal papers that make for magic reading. Who better to describe the cosmological constant than Einstein? Who better to talk about the Solar system than Galileo? How cool to read about Van Allen radiation belts in the original paper by James Van Allen? Fully indexed, includes sourced notes and bibliography. Over 650 pages (the paperback is a steal when you look at the price per page).

This extraordinary achievement is fun to dip into, and invaluable for reference.
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