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The twentieth-century witnessed the development of astrophysics and cosmology from subjects which scarcely existed to two of the most exciting and demanding areas of contemporary scientific inquiry. In The Cosmic Century Malcolm Longair reviews the historical development of the key areas of modern astrophysics, linking the strands together to show how they have led to the extraordinarily rich panorama of modern astrophysics and cosmology. While many of the great discoveries were derived from pioneering observations, the emphasis is upon the development of theoretical concepts and how they came to be accepted. These advances have led astrophysicists and cosmologists to ask some of the deepest questions about the nature of our Universe and have pushed astronomical observations to the very limit.
This is a fantastic story, and one which would have defied the imaginations of even the greatest story-tellers.
Part I. Stars and Stellar Evolution up to the Second World War
1. The legacy of the nineteenth century
2. The classification of stellar spectra
3. Stellar structure and evolution
4. The end points of stellar evolution
Part II. The Large-Scale Structure of the Universe 1900-39
5. The galaxy and the nature of the spiral nebulae
6. The origins of astrophysical cosmology
Part III: The Opening up of the Electromagnetic Spectrum
7. The opening up of the electromagnetic spectrum and the new astronomies
Part IV. Astrophysics and Cosmology since 1945
8. Stars and stellar evolution
9. The physics of the interstellar medium
10. The physics of galaxies and clusters of galaxies
11. High energy astrophysics
12. Astrophysical cosmology
13. The determination of cosmological parameters
14. The evolution of galaxies and active galaxies with cosmic epoch
15. The origin of galaxies and the large-scale structure of the universe
16. The very early universe
Malcolm Longair is Emeritus Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy and Director of Development at the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge. He has held many highly distinguished positions within physics and astronomy and has served on and chaired many international committees, boards and panels, working with both NASA and the European Space Agency. He has received much recognition for his work, including the Pilkington Prize of the University of Cambridge for Excellence in Teaching and a CBE in the millennium honours list for his services to astronomy and cosmology. His previous well-received books for Cambridge University Press include Theoretical Concepts in Physics (2003), The Cosmic Century: A History of Astrophysics and Cosmology (2005) and High Energy Astrophysics (2011).
"Longair emphasizes the development of theoretical concepts over the observations that they were based on, and brings the discussion up to date with the emergence of 21st-century precision cosmology."
- Physics World
"I can envisage this book being useful to physicists from other areas of specialization, who would like an overview of astrophysics and cosmology, or for workers in one of these areas who want to broaden their horizons. It could also be a text for graduate students in astronomy, astrophysics or astrophysical cosmology, who want a synoptic overview of these areas. [...] the book [...] clearly separates speculation from well-established theory. [...] a sound work that will be well appreciated."
- George Ellis, Nature Physics
"Little of astrophysics and cosmology escapes the gaze of Longair [...] Readers, especially those already familiar with many of the topics, will enjoy his prose. Certainly all graduate students in the field should read this book. And anyone interested in the history of science would enjoy it as bedside reading if they were willing to skip the equations."
- Jay M. Pasachoff, Nature
"It is fresh, authoratitive, thorough, and insightful [...] the understanding and appreciation of the scientific methodology leaps from every page [...] This book is superbly written, well referenced, fully illustrated, and beautifully produced. It will become a classic. Buy it, read it, and improve yourself."
- The Observatory
"In The Cosmic Century: A History of Astrophysics and Cosmology, Malcolm Longair has written a very timely book, directed toward students, researchers, and lecturers; I enjoyed experiencing all three roles while reading it. It is a lucid and in-depth presentation of the subject and introduces topics at various levels of complexity. [...] Longair's style very effectively engages the reader!"
- Physics Today