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Secrets of the Hoary Deep: A Personal History of Modern Astronomy

Biography / MemoirPopular Science

By: Riccardo Giacconi

480 pages, 34 colour photos, 32 halftones, 62 line drawings

Johns Hopkins University Press

Hardback | Jul 2008 | #174474 | ISBN-13: 9780801888090
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £29.99 $39/€34 approx

About this book

The discovery of x-rays continues to have a profound and accelerating effect on the field of astronomy. It has opened the cosmos to exploration in ways previously unimaginable and fundamentally altered the methods for pursuing information about our solar system and beyond. Nobel Prize - winner Riccardo Giacconi's highly personal account of the birth and evolution of x-ray astronomy reveals the science, people, and institutional settings behind this incalculably important and deeply influential discipline.

Part history, part memoir, and part cutting-edge science, "Secrets of the Hoary Deep" is the tale of x-ray astronomy from its infancy through what can only be called its early adulthood. It also offers the companion story of how the tools, techniques, and practices designed to support and develop x-ray astronomy were transferred to optical, infrared, and radio astronomy, drastically altering the face of modern space exploration. Giacconi relates the basic techniques developed at American Science and Engineering and explains how, where, and by whom the science was advanced.

From the first Earth-orbiting x-ray satellite, Uhuru, to the opening of the Space Telescope Science Institute and the lift-off of the Hubble Space Telescope to the construction of the Very Large Telescope, Giaconni recounts the ways in which the management methods and scientific methodology behind successful astronomy projects came to set the standards of operations for all subsequent space- and earth-based observatories. Along the way he spares no criticism and holds back no praise, detailing individual as well as institutional failures and successes and reflecting upon how far astronomy has come and how far it has yet to go.

Crisp, informative, and prognostic, Giacconi's story will captivate, inspire, and, at times, possibly infuriate professional and amateur astronomers across the breadth of the field and at all stages of their personal and professional development.

There are no dull pages in this book. It is inspirational. Not only will it enthuse those embarking on a career in observational astrophysics, it will also encourage other astronomers toward the twilight of their astronomical endeavours to start typing their life histories into the word processor. -- David W. Hughes The Observatory 2009 Woven throughout the narrative is a formulation of the core values that the author believes are central to any major scientific endeavor... both scientists and managers can learn by understanding the methodology that Giacconi applied with such resounding success. Choice 2008 Read this book; it tells of a career that spanned, and made, enormous changes in how we do science. -- Charles Jenkins Australian Physics 2008 In-depth, engrossing account sure to fascinate lay readers and experts alike. Midwest Book Review 2008 Giacconi offers his text not as an autobiography but as a history of contemporary astronomy illustrated by his own experiences... Giacconi's account is an important one. -- Bruce Hevly Physics Today 2009

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To physicists and astronomers, Riccardo Giacconi needs no introduction. A founding father of x-ray astronomy, he holds the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physics and has won numerous other awards in physics and astronomy, including the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1982) and the National Medal of Science (2003). Giacconi was the first director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, served as director general of the European Southern Observatory from 1993 to 1999, and has been a professor of physics and astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University since 1999.

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