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The Sun: A Biography 1st Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470092965
ISBN-10: 0470092963
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Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli
"Seven Brief Lessons on Physics" by Carlo Rovelli
This playful, entertaining, and mind-bending introduction to modern physics briskly explains Einstein's general relativity, quantum mechanics and the role humans play in this weird and wonderful world. Learn more | See related books
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Imagine writing the biography of a subject you can't look at without going blind. Astronomer and BBC science editor David Whitehouse has done just that in The Sun. Taking an unusual tack, he writes about the Sun as if it were a fascinating neighbor to be observed with the utmost care. After all, there is no celestial body more important to us than the Sun; all life on Earth depends upon its energy, and humans have been waking up with the dawn and sleeping with the dusk for millennia. Whitehouse provides an entertaining and comprehensive survey of ancient peoples' solar rituals and beliefs, leading finally to the birth of science and the painful (at least for the Church) acknowledgment that the Sun, and not the Earth, is the center of our solar system. The second half of the book is devoted to modern solar research, from the patterns and schedules of sunspots to the interior anatomy of our local star. Finally, Whitehouse imagines what it will be like 7.5 billion years from now, when the Sun dies, baking Earth into a lifeless husk in the process. The Sun is a delightfully readable account of the solar engine, a biography of the strange hot character that rules life itself. --Therese Littleton

Review

"...Reading this...immensely entertaining work of pop science makes us aware of ...the power of the sun..." (The Herald - Glasgow, 8th January 2005)

"...Whitehouse appears to have explored every possible avenue, and I can only guess at the enormous amount of research this must have required..." (New Scientist, 29th January 2005)

"...a staggering range of content...offering a plethora of facts and a fascinating read..." (Good Book Guide, February 2005)

"...intelligent, safety-goggles-on look at that without-which star that's intrigued humankind since day one...wide-ranging and excellent." (Insight - Brighton, March 2005)

"...the birth, life, and death of the Sun are carefully considered, exactly as you would expect in any excellent biography. Which is exactly what this book is..." (The Observatory, August 05)

"...a shining example of the way in which main sequence stars such as ours begin, spend, and end their sunny days..." (The Age, Sept 05)

"...well-written and enjoyable..." (Times Educational Supplement, November 4th 05)

"...well written and enjoyable...a useful addition to any teacher's fountain of knowledge..." (Times Educational Supplement - Scotland, 4th November 2005)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (February 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470092963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470092965
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,056,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Sun is an excellent, entertaining and thought-provoking book written for the layperson by astronomer David Whitehouse about our most awesome and mysterious nearest star. Part history, part biography, this book also has enough science to engage and inform, without either getting bogged down in technicalities or coming across as too superficial. Whitehouse follows the efforts of astronomers and physicists who, over the centuries, have been piecing together the great puzzle that is our (still very incomplete) knowledge of the Sun, and after reading this, you may well find yourself taking our vast, incandescent neighbour a little less for granted.
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Format: Hardcover
This book contains much information about the sun. It covers both the physical aspects, e.g., its formation, evolution, structure, life expectancy, how it works, physical effects on earth, etc., as well as the human aspects, e.g., effects on human history, superstitions, scientists who studied it, evolution of scientific theories, effects on human health, etc. The book is well written in an engaging style. If there is a shortcoming to this book, it is simply the fact that there is some amount of repetition of facts, often on the same page. This may indicate that the book was perhaps rushed through publication without an adequate editorial review. Nevertheless, this is very minor compared to the vast amount of information that it contains and the pleasure that it is to read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I disliked this book very much.

It rehashes a lot of 'sun based' cultural history that a 6th grader should know.

I find his over usage of 'flowery' phrases to be trite.

Most ideas that could be stated in one or two sentences seems to take multiple paragraphs to convey. One gets the impression is he leading up to something yet often times it falls flat.

I would have given this book one star but to be fair I stopped reading after Chapter 16 while having skipped many parts along the way.
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Format: Paperback
This book provides a fascinating insight into our changing understanding of the sun over the centuries, as it explores the ways many ingenious people have gradually extended our knowledge of how the sun influences every aspect of our lives. Packed with interesting anecdotes and facts, such as how a Window Tax in the UK increased the incidence of Rickets and Tuberculosis and how sound waves in the sun have enabled us to delve into the physics of its interior, this book covers an amazing breadth of information in an easily readable style. I particularly appreciated the interesting insights into the lives of some of the scientists involved in the study of the sun, along with the details of how powerful authority figures sometimes delayed the pace of discovery by deriding the efforts of their 'lesser' competitors.

I would have given this book five stars but for the distracting errors (like the mention of 100,000 stars in our galaxy!) and for the occasional places where ineffectual wordy prose could have been aided by a suitable illustration. (I found the lack of diagrams within the text rather perverse in a book providing insight into what gives us vision, particularly when there are interesting illustrations between chapters!) However, overall the author has condensed information from thousands of years of our efforts to understand the sun into a highly readable, instructive and enjoyable book about the marvelous fusion reactor that powers the life of virtually every living thing on the Earth.
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