- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; Reprint edition (January 24, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385531109
- ISBN-13: 978-0385531108
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 213 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming Reprint Edition
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A Letter from Author Mike Brown
From Bookmarks Magazine
Though several reviewers admitted a grudge against Brown for picking off plucky underdog Pluto, they found his memoir a charming account of a scientist’s life and work. Given Brown’s popularity as an instructor and lecturer at Caltech, it is perhaps unsurprising that his book is accessible and enlightening. Critics were less certain about Brown’s decision to include so much of his personal life in the book. None actually said that Brown’s interludes about becoming a husband and father detracted from his story, but a few asked what they really added. Others, though, felt that this personal perspective perfectly rounded out Brown’s account of how he and his discoveries reshaped the solar system. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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A major parallel story in the book is how the author discovered what was briefly thought to be the Tenth Planet. His discovery precipitated the change in both its, and Pluto's, status. The story is nicely told, in such a way that the technical details are described in an understandable way; and the personal drama that goes along with it is well told, too.
If you like astronomy or are simply interested in how the universe works, I think you will find this a fun and informative book.
This book is written by Mike Brown, the discoverer of several large Kuiper Belt Objects, notably Eris/"Xena", a Pluto sized object, and gives us the inside story of how this great scientific discovery was made. It turns out that hard work using the right tools was what made the difference, not luck or genius. It also contains personal stories and stories about the politics of astronomy. The family life accounts work well to illustrate how life and science depend on each other, and are entertaining.
The vocabulary isn't difficult, and there are no equations. Mathematical and physical concepts are explained in a way that people with no background in the subjects can understand.
Even if I already knew the ending, the book was hard to put down, I had to know all the details of this exciting story. I finished the whole thing in two days. I also learned from it, not just from the text itself, but it inspired me to read more about the Kuiper Belt.
The only negative thing I can say, is that not all of the ethymological explanations are excact, particularly for the weekdays, but I'm nitpicking now.
Highly recommended for a light read on the history of the discovery of the Kuiper Belt.
I do wish that there were descriptions of the algorithms used to search the telescopic images though. That would have fit as an appendix.
I like the balance of sciency writing with personal nuggets from Brown's own life and family.
Deciding what is and is not a planet may seem simple enough to those who have never given the matter any thought, but Brown opens by reviewing just how challenging the issue has been throughout history. As a species, we've been looking at up the skies for a long, long time. Over that time, our understanding of what it was we were seeing has changed as we've learned more and more about our universe and how it works. It's only natural that such change will continue to occur as we continue to learn more and more about what we see when we look up. And that's what Brown presents us with in this book; while he takes a stand on Pluto's planethood, for me the real core of the book was the process of discovery, the broadening of the solar system and human understanding of it, and how what we are continuing to learn forces us to rethink what we thought we already knew. Easy to follow even for a lay reader, at times the book feels more like a novel than a recounting a scientific work due to the thrill of discovering new stellar bodies it contains as well as the human tension from his personal life during the same period that Brown intersperses with his work searching for new planets. I can therefore recommend the book even for people who don't care whether Pluto is a planet or not, because it isn't just about taking a position in that debate, but about discovery in space and what it means for us here on this planet.