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Science Books

August 3, 2006

Many Worlds In One: The Search For Other Universes
Alex Vilenkin (2006)
ISBN: 0809095238

The new "reality" being shaped by scientists' cosmological musings often sounds like pure science fiction; and getting your head around infinite cosmic expansion, dark energy, multiple universes and a universe from nothing ain't easy. So when are scientists going to be able to prove any of these fantastic concepts? Alex Vilenkin, professor of physics at Tufts University, assures us that many of these ideas are headed toward testability, and that we could be treated to some truly amazing discoveries in the very near future. This promise should not be taken lightly, as it comes from a man who is on the frontline of cosmological exploration, and whose own work has contributed greatly to cosmology's new worldview. Many Worlds In One is not always an easy read, but Vilenkin, to his credit, has managed to cram the book full of background information without stemming his flow of ideas. General readers will find the revisions a welcome addition when Vilenkin is explaining how the existence of repulsive gravity means that the universe will expand forever, or that our universe is just one of an infinite series. Renowned physicist Leonard Susskind considers Many Worlds In One to be one of the greatest books that he's read, dubbing Vilenkin as: "one of the great pioneers in the subject of modern cosmology." This firsthand account from one of cosmology's leading scientists makes Many Worlds In One a unique and truly engaging read, even if some of the conclusions do end up giving you a migraine.

Stargazer: The Life And Times Of The Telescope
Fred Watson (2006)
ISBN: 0306814838

The telescope has been at the center of many of history's most astounding scientific discoveries, but while the great men of science are long remembered, the device itself and its history have largely gone unrecognized. After all, would Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and Edwin Hubble have had their names immortalized in the annals of science without the humble telescope? Now, Australian astronomer, Dr. Fred Watson, gives credit where credit is due, and relates the history, technology and science that led to the development of the telescope. Being responsible for the data produced from Australia's largest optical telescope, Dr. Watson knows a thing or two about the topic. Watson's history of the telescope traces a path of innovation, ingenuity and controversy; is always colorful and sometimes amusing. Take for example locomotive builder Andrew Barclay, whose telescopes were so badly constructed that the planets were unrecognizable. One would not think of the telescope as a controversial device, but stories such as Barclay's reveal a tension between astronomers, scientists and engineers in regard to telescope design. Stargazer is an easy, entertaining and informative read, which lucidly explains how the telescope rose to be an indispensable piece of scientific apparatus over its 400-year history.

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