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Walking Zero: Discovering Cosmic Space and Time Along the PRIME MERIDIAN Hardcover – May 2, 2006

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The latest from noted science writer Raymo (An Intimate Look at the Night Sky) isn't merely a history of the prime meridian, the zero-longitude line passing through eastern England that is the starting point for measuring both space and time on Earth. Roughly speaking, Raymo is interested in how we understand our place in the cosmos, and his walk along the prime meridian is a meditation on the evolving ways that humans have measured and understood space and time, stopping here and there at some of the most prominent landmarks in the history of science. The slender volume covers an astonishing amount of ground, ranging from the astronomers of ancient Alexandria to the fellows of the British Royal Society, from Piltdown Man to contemporary debates over relativism and scientific knowledge. The result is an unexpected combination of popular history, travelogue and intellectual memoir, as meandering and invigorating as a brisk country walk, and while there is little here that hasn't been recounted elsewhere, the real joy is in the journey—one could hardly ask for a better travel companion than Raymo, a professor emeritus of physics and astronomy whose prose is delightfully erudite and introspective. 25 b&w illus., 1 map. (May)
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From Scientific American

The story of the prime meridian is in itself fascinating: in 1884 an international agreement fixed a meridian of zero longitude and standard time through southeast England. But Raymo, a physicist and science writer who wrote a popular weekly column for the Boston Globe, goes beyond this tale. He uses an actual walk along the meridian as a "thread on which to hang" a history of astronomy, geology and paleontology. Stops at sites near the meridian include Newton’s rooms at Cambridge, Darwin’s house at Downe, the infamous town of Piltdown, and the place where the first dinosaur fossils were discovered. A walk with this delightful writer is the best exercise a reader could have.

Editors of Scientific American


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Books; First Edition edition (May 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802714943
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802714947
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,343,903 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Christina Lockstein on June 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Walking Zero by Chet Raymo was a suprisingly enjoyable read. Raymo, Professor emeritas of physics and astronomy at Stonehill College, is a wonderful tour guide through the hills of England as he walks the Prime Meridian and talks about important scientific people and events that took place near it. Reading this book is like attending a science class led by a enthusiastic teacher who wants to share his love of science to his students. From the Library of Alexandria to the Hubble telescope, Raymo covers a terrific amount of knowledge, including some fun bits of trivia, like the origin of the meter. He speaks in layman's terms when he can and uses lots of illustrations to explain astronomy and how our knowledge of the universe has grown and is still growing. One of the things that fascinated me most was reading about men like Newton, Galileo, and Aristarchus. These men looked at the world and wanted to know how and why it worked. Most of us spend our lives just trying to get from one day to the next. These men changed the size of our world through their wisdom. Raymo spends a lot of time trying to encourage the reader to leave their comfort zone of being the center of the universe, and this book will make you want to. He's a little to reverent of Darwin for me, but that's a small problem. Another plus, Raymo keeps it short, only 181 pages!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carol Marshall on July 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As I grow in age and, hopefully, maturity, the wonder of our universe fills me with awe. When I saw this book reviewed in the Los Angeles Times Book Review section, I knew it was one I wanted on my book shelf. And I was right! Written in a language a lay-man/women can understand and filled with wonderful anecdotes, it is, in my opinion, a "Must Read!" for those who look out at the world and whisper "WOW!"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joann M. Keyes on October 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book takes you on a historical tour of the prime meridian and all of the controversy over it's placement in England as well. The Author obviously loves his work and it glows through the pages of this book. It is a one day read, and week long re-read. It is that good!
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Format: Hardcover
Author Chet Raymo is a physicist and astronomer, and his WALKING ZERO: DISCOVERING COSMIC SPACE AND TIME ALONG THE PRIME MERIDIAN focuses on the history of the prime meridian and its impact on scientific luminaries throughout the ages. Raymo walks across southeastern England in the course of a journey probing not just history and astronomy, but geology: this lively discourse will appeal not just to students of science, but to general-interest readers.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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