Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony: The Story of a Gamble, Two Black Holes, and a New Age of Astronomy [EPUB]
27 June 2017, 14:03
2017 | EPUB | 5.85MB
An updated classic that recounts the long hunt for Einstein’s predicted gravitational waves—and celebrates their recent discovery
In February 2016, astronomers announced that they had verified the last remaining prediction of Einstein’s general theory of relativity—vibrations in space-time, called gravitational waves. Humanity can now tune in to a cosmic orchestra. We have heard the chirp of two black holes dancing toward a violent union. We will hear the cymbal crashes from exploding stars, the periodic drumbeats from swiftly rotating pulsars, and maybe even the echoes from the Big Bang itself.
Marcia Bartusiak was one of the first to report on the new generation of observatories, showing the motivations of the detectors’ creators and the gamble they made to prove Einstein right when all other attempts had failed. She traces the quest of astronomers to build the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, the most accurate measuring devices humans have created, and the discovery of gravitational waves, revealing the brilliance, personalities, and luck required to start a new age of astronomy.
Earths of Distant Suns: How We Find Them, Communicate with Them, and Maybe Even Travel There [PDF]
17 January 2017, 16:32
2017 | PDF | 11.01MB
Based on the latest missions results and supported by commissioned artwork, this book explores the possible lessons we may learn from exoplanets. As the number of known Earth-like objects grows significantly, the author explores what is known about the growing roster of "pale blue dots" far afield. Aided by an increased sensitivity of the existing observatories, recent discoveries by Keck, the Hubble Space Telescope, and Kepler are examined. These findings, once thought to be closer to the realm of science fiction, have fired the imaginations of the general public as well as scientists.
All of us are mesmerized by the possibility of other Earth-like worlds out there. Author Michael Carroll asks the tough questions of what the expected gain is from identifying these Earth analogs spread across the Universe and the reasons for studying them. Potentially, they could teach us about our own climate and Solar System. Also explored are the more remote options of communication between or even travel to these distant yet perhaps not so dissimilar worlds.
Heaven and Earth in Ancient Mexico: Astronomy and Seasonal Cycles in the Codex Borgia [PDF]
29 December 2016, 06:32
2013 | PDF | 25.38MB
The Codex Borgia, a masterpiece that predates the Spanish conquest of central Mexico, records almanacs used in divination and astronomy. Within its beautifully painted screenfold pages is a section (pages 29–46) that shows a sequence of enigmatic pictures that have been the subject of debate for more than a century. Bringing insights from ethnohistory, anthropology, art history, and archaeoastronomy to bear on this passage, Susan Milbrath presents a convincing new interpretation of Borgia 29–46 as a narrative of noteworthy astronomical events that occurred over the course of the year AD 1495–1496, set in the context of the central Mexican festival calendar.
In contrast to scholars who have interpreted Borgia 29–46 as a mythic history of the heavens and the earth, Milbrath demonstrates that the narrative documents ancient Mesoamericans' understanding of real-time astronomy and natural history. Interpreting the screenfold's complex symbols in light of known astronomical events, she finds that Borgia 29–46 records such phenomena as a total solar eclipse in August 1496, a November meteor shower, a comet first sighted in February 1496, and the changing phases of Venus and Mercury. She also shows how the narrative is organized according to the eighteen-month festival calendar and how seasonal cycles in nature are represented in its imagery. This new understanding of the content and purpose of the Codex Borgia reveals this long-misunderstood narrative as the most important historical record of central Mexican astronomy on the eve of the Spanish conquest.