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Astrophysics


Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution

Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution Lowest new price: $13.64
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Author: Neil deGrasse Tyson
Brand: PBS

"An accessible and extremely well-written exploration of the deep waters of cosmology, astrophysics, and exobiology."—?Kirkus Reviews?

Our true origins are not just human, or even terrestrial, but in fact cosmic. Drawing on recent scientific breakthroughs and the current cross-pollination among geology, biology, astrophysics, and cosmology, ?Origins? explains the soul-stirring leaps in our understanding of the cosmos. From the first image of a galaxy birth to Spirit Rover's exploration of Mars, to the discovery of water on one of Jupiter's moons, coauthors Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith conduct a galvanizing tour of the cosmos with clarity and exuberance. 32 pages of color illustrations.

In this companion volume to the two-part NOVA television special by the same title, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and astronomy writer Donald Goldsmith attempt to cram 14 billion years of history into 300 pages. The result of this audacious exercise is a surprising and engrossing book, one that far surpasses the droning tone of so many astronomy texts. Starting (of course) with the Big Bang and ending with the search for extraterrestrial life, the authors synthesize the results of several scientific fields to present a sort of cosmological consilience. They also emphasize the scientific method and its inherent skepticism as the only way to understand such mysteries as dark matter, stellar formation, and the origin of life on Earth. Although several books are published each year that provide overviews of various branches of science, what's different about this one is the accessible tone of the writing. The authors use mild humor throughout to keep readers going in difficult sections; for instance, when assessing the question of why we live during the rare time when the amounts of dark and not-dark energy are roughly equal in the universe, they relate that cosmologist Michael Turner calls the situation the "'Nancy Kerrigan problem,' in honor of the Olympic figure skater, who asked... 'Why me? Why now?'" Combining 21st-century astronomy, astrobiology, astrochemistry, and other disciplines, Origins is a fine guidebook with which to journey "back to the beginning of everything." --Therese Littleton

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Universe

Universe Lowest new price: $27.57
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Author: Robert Dinwiddie

From the fiery mass of the Sun's core to the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, Universe takes you on the ultimate guided tour of the cosmos. Full of stunning out-of-this world images reflecting recent advances in space imagery, you'll go on a journey from our solar system all the way to the farthest limits of space.

With information on the nature of the universe, the study of cosmology, Earth's motion, modern telescopes, astrophotography, and even a comprehensive star atlas, this groundbreaking encyclopedia takes a dazzling and expansive look at the Universe and is a must-have for both students and astronomy enthusiasts.

Includes a comprehensive star atlas that covers all the constellations and planetary charts showing their positions right up to 2019, with entries on each of the 88 constellations and notable celestial objects that lie within them, and a monthly sky guide showing the night sky as it appears throughout the year.

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A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science

A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science Lowest new price: $11.60
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Author: Michael S. Schneider

The Universe May Be a Mystery,
But It's No Secret

Michael Schneider leads us on a spectacular, lavishly illustrated journey along the numbers one through ten to explore the mathematical principles made visible in flowers, shells, crystals, plants, and the human body, expressed in the symbolic language of folk sayings and fairy tales, myth and religion, art and architecture. This is a new view of mathematics, not the one we learned at school but a comprehensive guide to the patterns that recur through the universe and underlie human affairs. A Beginner's Guide to Constructing, the Universe shows you:

  • Why cans, pizza, and manhole covers are round.

  • Why one and two weren't considered numbers by the ancient Greeks.

  • Why squares show up so often in goddess art and board games.

  • What property makes the spiral the most widespread shape in nature, from embryos and hair curls to hurricanes and galaxies.

  • How the human body shares the design of a bean plant and the solar system.

  • How a snowflake is like Stonehenge, and a beehive like a calendar.

  • How our ten fingers hold the secrets of both a lobster and a cathedral.

  • And much more.

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First Light: The Search for the Edge of the Universe

First Light: The Search for the Edge of the Universe Lowest new price: $14.46
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Author: Richard Preston
Brand: Random House

Seven years before Richard Preston wrote about horrifying viruses in The Hot Zone, he turned his attention to the cosmos. In First Light, he demonstrates his gift for creating an exciting and absorbing narrative around a complex scientific subject--in this case the efforts by astronomers at the Palomar Observatory in the San Gabriel Mountains of California to peer to the farthest edges of space through the Hale Telescope, attempting to solve the riddle of the creation of the universe.

Richard Preston's name became a household word with The Hot Zone, which sold nearly 800,000 copies in hardcover, was on The New York Times's bestseller list for 42 weeks, and was the subject of countless magazine and newspaper articles. Preston has become a sought-after commentator on popular science subjects.

For this hardcover reprint of what has been called "the best popular account of astronomy in action," (Kirkus Reviews) he has revised the text and written a new introduction.

"There is a saying among astronomers that five billion people concern themselves with the surface of the Earth, and ten thousand with everything else," writes Richard Preston, best-selling author of The Hot Zone. And if you think these professional stargazers spend most of their time serenely peering into the night sky, guess again. Today's astronomers are world-class gadgeteers who scurry about giant (and often frigid) observatories tinkering with the mechanical and electronic tools of their trade. In First Light, they tangle with the Hale Telescope, one of the world's oldest and largest. This beautifully written book is highly recommended for anybody interested in astronomy.

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Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell

Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell Lowest new price: $67.58
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Author: A. Zee


This unique textbook provides an accessible introduction to Einstein's general theory of relativity, a subject of breathtaking beauty and supreme importance in physics. With his trademark blend of wit and incisiveness, A. Zee guides readers from the fundamentals of Newtonian mechanics to the most exciting frontiers of research today, including de Sitter and anti-de Sitter spacetimes, Kaluza-Klein theory, and brane worlds. Unlike other books on Einstein gravity, this book emphasizes the action principle and group theory as guides in constructing physical theories. Zee treats various topics in a spiral style that is easy on beginners, and includes anecdotes from the history of physics that will appeal to students and experts alike. He takes a friendly approach to the required mathematics, yet does not shy away from more advanced mathematical topics such as differential forms. The extensive discussion of black holes includes rotating and extremal black holes and Hawking radiation. The ideal textbook for undergraduate and graduate students, Einstein Gravity in a Nutshell also provides an essential resource for professional physicists and is accessible to anyone familiar with classical mechanics and electromagnetism. It features numerous exercises as well as detailed appendices covering a multitude of topics not readily found elsewhere.



  • Provides an accessible introduction to Einstein's general theory of relativity

  • Guides readers from Newtonian mechanics to the frontiers of modern research

  • Emphasizes symmetry and the Einstein-Hilbert action

  • Covers topics not found in standard textbooks on Einstein gravity

  • Includes interesting historical asides

  • Features numerous exercises and detailed appendices

  • Ideal for students, physicists, and scientifically minded lay readers

  • Solutions manual (available only to teachers)


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If You Decide To Go To The Moon

If You Decide To Go To The Moon Lowest new price: $10.36
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Author: Faith McNulty
Brand: Scholastic Press

Two artists at the height of their powers have created a beautiful book with an unforgettable message about the moon and an even more important message about the earth. A publishing event!

"If you decide to go to the moon," writes Faith McNulty, "read this book first. It will tellyou how to get there and what to do after youland. The most important part tells you how to get home.
Written in the second person, the text allows the reader to participate in every aspect of the journey, from packing ("don't forget your diary and plenty of food") to liftoff (at first you'll feel heavy; don't worry") to traveling thorugh space (where "the moon glows like a pearl in the black, black sky"). The reader lands at the Sea of Tranquility, the site of the first lunar landing

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What Is Relativity?: An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein's Ideas, and Why They Matter

What Is Relativity?: An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein's Ideas, and Why They Matter Lowest new price: $20.87
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Author: Jeffrey Bennett

It is commonly assumed that if the Sun suddenly turned into a black hole, it would suck Earth and the rest of the planets into oblivion. Yet, as prominent author and astrophysicist Jeffrey Bennett points out, black holes don't suck. With that simple idea in mind, Bennett begins an entertaining introduction to Einstein's theories of relativity, describing the amazing phenomena readers would actually experience if they took a trip to a black hole.

The theory of relativity also reveals the speed of light as the cosmic speed limit, the mind-bending ideas of time dilation and curvature of spacetime, and what may be the most famous equation in history: E = mc2. Indeed, the theory of relativity shapes much of our modern understanding of the universe. It is not "just a theory" -- every major prediction of relativity has been tested to exquisite precision, and its practical applications include the Global Positioning System (GPS). Amply illustrated and written in clear, accessible prose, Bennett's book proves anyone can grasp the basics of Einstein's ideas. His intuitive, nonmathematical approach gives a wide audience its first real taste of how relativity works and why it is so important to science and the way we view ourselves as human beings.

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Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void Lowest new price: $8.48
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Author: Mary Roach

The best-selling author of Stiff and Bonk explores the irresistibly strange universe of space travel and life without gravity.

Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, beer. Space exploration is in some ways an exploration of what it means to be human. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? have sex? smell flowers? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 17,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations. As Mary Roach discovers, it’s possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Roach takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.

Amazon Best Books of the Month, August 2010: With her wry humor and inextinguishable curiosity, Mary Roach has crafted her own quirky niche in the somewhat staid world of science writing, showing no fear (or shame) in the face of cadavers, ectoplasm, or sex. In Packing for Mars, Roach tackles the strange science of space travel, and the psychology, technology, and politics that go into sending a crew into orbit. Roach is unfailingly inquisitive (Why is it impolite for astronauts to float upside down during conversations? Just how smelly does a spacecraft get after a two week mission?), and she eagerly seeks out the stories that don't make it onto NASA's website--from SPCA-certified space suits for chimps, to the trial-and-error approach to crafting menus during the space program's early years (when the chefs are former livestock veterinarians, taste isn't high on the priority list). Packing for Mars is a book for grownups who still secretly dream of being astronauts, and Roach lives it up on their behalf--weightless in a C-9 aircraft, she just can't resist the opportunity to go "Supermanning" around the cabin. Her zeal for discovery, combined with her love of the absurd, amazing, and stranger-than-fiction, make Packing for Mars an uproarious trip into the world of space travel. --Lynette Mong


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The Universe in a Nutshell

The Universe in a Nutshell Lowest new price: $9.47
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Author: Stephen William Hawking
Brand: Baker and Taylor

Stephen Hawking’s phenomenal, multimillion-copy bestseller, A Brief History of Time, introduced the ideas of this brilliant theoretical physicist to readers all over the world.

Now, in a major publishing event, Hawking returns with a lavishly illustrated sequel that unravels the mysteries of the major breakthroughs that have occurred in the years since the release of his acclaimed first book.

The Universe in a Nutshell

• Quantum mechanics
• M-theory
• General relativity
• 11-dimensional supergravity
• 10-dimensional membranes
• Superstrings
• P-branes
• Black holes

One of the most influential thinkers of our time, Stephen Hawking is an intellectual icon, known not only for the adventurousness of his ideas but for the clarity and wit with which he expresses them. In this new book Hawking takes us to the cutting edge of theoretical physics, where truth is often stranger than fiction, to explain in laymen’s terms the principles that control our universe.

Like many in the community of theoretical physicists, Professor Hawking is seeking to uncover the grail of science — the elusive Theory of Everything that lies at the heart of the cosmos. In his accessible and often playful style, he guides us on his search to uncover the secrets of the universe — from supergravity to supersymmetry, from quantum theory to M-theory, from holography to duality.

He takes us to the wild frontiers of science, where superstring theory and p-branes may hold the final clue to the puzzle. And he lets us behind the scenes of one of his most exciting intellectual adventures as he seeks “to combine Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and Richard Feynman’s idea of multiple histories into one complete unified theory that will describe everything that happens in the universe.”

With characteristic exuberance, Professor Hawking invites us to be fellow travelers on this extraordinary voyage through space-time. Copious four-color illustrations help clarify this journey into a surreal wonderland where particles, sheets, and strings move in eleven dimensions; where black holes evaporate and disappear, taking their secret with them; and where the original cosmic seed from which our own universe sprang was a tiny nut.

The Universe in a Nutshell is essential reading for all of us who want to understand the universe in which we live. Like its companion volume, A Brief History of Time, it conveys the excitement felt within the scientific community as the secrets of the cosmos reveal themselves.

Stephen Hawking, science's first real rock star, may be the least-read bestselling author in history--it's no secret that many people who own A Brief History of Time have never finished it. Hawking's The Universe in a Nutshell aims to remedy the situation, with a plethora of friendly illustrations to help readers grok some of the most brain-bending ideas ever conceived.

Does it succeed? Yes and no. While Hawking offers genuinely accessible context for such complexities as string theory and the nature of time, it's when he must translate equations to sentences that the limits of language get in the way. But Hawking has simplified the origin of the universe, the nature of space and time, and what holds it all together to an unprecedented degree, inviting nonscientists to share his obvious awe and love of the unseen forces that shape it all.

Yes, it's difficult reading, but it's worth it. Hawking is one of the great geniuses of our time, a man whose life has been devoted to thinking in the abstract about the universe. With his help, and pictures--lots of pictures--we can seek to understand a bit more of the cosmos. --Therese Littleton

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Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program)

Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein's Outrageous Legacy (Commonwealth Fund Book Program) Lowest new price: $8.00
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Author: Kip S. Thorne
Brand: W.W. Norton & Co

Ever since Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity burst upon the world in 1915 some of the most brilliant minds of our century have sought to decipher the mysteries bequeathed by that theory, a legacy so unthinkable in some respects that even Einstein himself rejected them.

Which of these bizarre phenomena, if any, can really exist in our universe? Black holes, down which anything can fall but from which nothing can return; wormholes, short spacewarps connecting regions of the cosmos; singularities, where space and time are so violently warped that time ceases to exist and space becomes a kind of foam; gravitational waves, which carry symphonic accounts of collisions of black holes billions of years ago; and time machines, for traveling backward and forward in time.

Kip Thorne, along with fellow theorists Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, a cadre of Russians, and earlier scientists such as Oppenheimer, Wheeler and Chandrasekhar, has been in the thick of the quest to secure answers. In this masterfully written and brilliantly informed work of scientific history and explanation, Dr. Thorne, the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at Caltech, leads his readers through an elegant, always human, tapestry of interlocking themes, coming finally to a uniquely informed answer to the great question: what principles control our universe and why do physicists think they know the things they think they know? Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time has been one of the greatest best-sellers in publishing history. Anyone who struggled with that book will find here a more slowly paced but equally mind-stretching experience, with the added fascination of a rich historical and human component.

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