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Discovering the Expanding Universe

By: Harry Nussbaumer(Author), Lydia Bieri(Author)

226 pages, 49 illustrations

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Mar 2009 | #179584 | ISBN-13: 9780521514842
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NHBS Price: £45.99 $60/€52 approx

About this book

The discovery of the expanding universe is one of the most exciting exploits in astronomy.

This book explores its history, from the beginnings of modern cosmology with Einstein in 1917, through Lemaitre's discovery of the expanding universe in 1927 and his suggestion of a Big Bang origin, to Hubble's contribution of 1929 and the subsequent years when Hubble and Humason provided the essential observations for further developing modern cosmology, and finally to Einstein's conversion to the expanding universe in 1931. As a prelude the book traces the evolution of some of the notions of modern cosmology from the late Middle Ages up to the final acceptance of the concept of galaxies in 1925. Written in non-technical language, with a mathematical appendix, the book will appeal to scientists, students, and anyone interested in the history of astronomy and cosmology.

'It's wonderful to have such expert guides. Though their book claims to be for the interested man, it will prove most valuable to Physics Today readers. ... Discovering the Expanding Universe is the one you should read.' Physics Today 'Based on a close reading of original papers, this book is a pleasure to read and will be welcomed not only by professional scientists but also by amateurs. The mathematics is conveniently, and fittingly, removed to a masterly appendix.' Nuncius: Journal of the History of Science



1. Introduction
2. Cosmological concepts at the end of the Middle Ages
3. Nebulae as a new astronomical phenomenon
4. On the construction of the Heavens
5. Island universes turn into astronomical facts: A universe of galaxies
6. The early cosmology of Einstein and de Sitter
7. The dynamical universe of Friedmann
8. Redshifts: How to reconcile Slipher and de Sitter?
9. Lemaitre discovers the expanding universe
10. Hubble's contribution of 1929
11. The breakthrough for the expanding universe
12. Hubble's anger about de Sitter
13. Robertson and Tolman join the game
14. The Einstein-de Sitter universe
15. Are Sun and Earth older than the universe?
16. In search of alternative tracks
17. The seed for the Big Bang
18. Summary and Postscript


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Harry Nussbaumer is Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Astronomy, ETH Zurich. Lydia Bieri is Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Harvard University.

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