Books  Physical Sciences  Cosmology & Astronomy 

The Universe: 50 Ideas You Really Need to Know

Popular Science

By: Joanne Baker

208 pages, 50 black and white line illustrations

Quercus Publishing

Hardback | Jan 2011 | #190256 | ISBN-13: 9780857381231
Availability: Usually dispatched within 48 hours
NHBS Price: £9.99 $12/€11 approx

About this book

For millennia humanity has gazed in wonder at the night sky, tracked the motions of the planets and attempted to explain our place in the Universe. But only in our own time has the true scale, the astonishing variety and the remarkable strangeness of the cosmos come clearly into focus. The pace and sophistication of recent scientific discovery has been breathtaking, but breakthroughs are often difficult to understand and their impact is hard to fully appreciate. In Universe - 50 Ideas You Really Need to Know, Joanne Baker clearly and concisely explains all of the essential concepts, major discoveries and the very latest thinking in astrophysics, including: the basic principles of astronomy - from heliocentrism to Newton's theory of optics; the constituent parts of the Universe, its creation and evolution; the key concepts of cosmology including the theory of relativity, supermassive black holes and 'multiverses'; the very latest developments in our understanding of quasars, exoplanets and astrobiology. From dwarf planets to dark energy; and from the Big Bang to the death of stars, this book is the perfect introduction to the cutting-edge science that is shaping our understanding of our place in the Universe and that could lead to the next great discovery - the detection of life beyond Earth.


Introduction. REVEALING THE UNIVERSE: Planets; Heliocentrism; Kepler's laws; Newton's law of gravitation; Newton's theory of optics; The telescope; Fraunhofer lines; Doppler effect; Parallax; The Great Debate. COSMOLOGY: Olbers' paradox; Hubble's law; Cosmic distance ladder; The Big Bang; Cosmic microwave background; Big Bang nucleosynthesis; Antimatter; Dark matter; Cosmic inflation; Cosmological constant. SPACETIME AND BEYOND: Mach's principle; Special relativity; General relativity; Black holes; Particle astrophysics; The God particle; String theory; Anthropic principle. GALAXIES: Hubble galaxy sequence; Galaxy clusters; Large-scale structure; Radio astronomy; Quasars; X-ray background; Supermassive black holes; Galaxy evolution; Gravitational lensing. STARS: Stellar classifications; Stellar evolution; Stellar births; Stellar deaths; Pulsars; Gamma-ray bursts; Variability; The Sun; Exoplanets; Formation of the solar system; Moons; Astrobiology; Fermi paradox. Glossary. Index.

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Joanne Baker studied Physics at the University of Cambridge and took her PhD in Astrophysics at the University of Sydney in 1995. She is the author of the best-selling 50 Physics Ideas You Really Need to Know and is an editor at Nature magazine, where her speciality is space and Earth science.

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