October 25, 2014

Review: From Dust to Life by John Chambers & Jacqueline Mitton

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How did “we” come to be? How did lowly hydrogen atoms congregate together to eventually build laptops and blog about the cosmos? The formation of our solar system is a key to this mystery, a riddle that we just now may finally have the hard data to solve. This week, we take a look at From Dust to Life: The Origin and Evolution of the Solar System by John Chambers and Jacqueline Mitton out from Princeton University Press. [Read more...]

Review: Dreams of Other Worlds by Chris Impey and Holly Henry

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Robotic space exploration has finally come of age. Recent successes, such as the pioneering landing via sky crane of the Mars Rover Curiosity by NASA have demonstrated a capability to triumph after a hard-won history often marked by failure.

This week’s review titled Dreams of Other Worlds: The Amazing Story of Unmanned Space Exploration by Chris Impey and Holly Henry chronicles the often overlooked history of robotic exploration of the solar system. Robots can go more cheaply and effectively where humans can’t, and don’t demand a return ticket. Out from Princeton University Press, Dreams of Other Worlds is a timely snapshot of the state of unmanned space exploration. [Read more...]

Review: Discoverers of the Universe by Michael Hoskin.

Out from Princeton Press.

Few realize that we owe much of our knowledge to an astronomical dynasty of the 18th-19th century. This week, we review Discoverers of the Universe by Michael Hoskin. This fascinating book covers the life and times of astronomers William and Caroline Herschel and the eventual hand off of the mantle of British astronomy to William’s son John. Much has been written about the pursuits of the Herschels, but Discoverers gives it to you in the kind of detail that we observational astronomers love. [Read more...]

Review: How Did the First Stars and Galaxies Form? By Abraham Loeb.

 

Out Now from Princeton University Press!

   One of the crucial questions in modern cosmology is: why is there anything at all? Why are we here to admire the cosmos, and create books and blogs about how clever we are to figure it all out? Why didn’t the early universe promptly annihilate itself in a massive matter/anti-matter collision? [Read more...]

Review: How to Build a Habitable Planet by James Kasting.

Some years ago, a book entitled Rare Earth was published amid much controversy. The central thesis of this work was that events that led to the eventual habitability and diversity of life and intelligence on Earth were so improbable, as be near to impossible to replicate elsewhere in our galaxy. The book marked a sort of change in thinking in the realm of exobiology, one from “intelligent civilizations are everywhere” championed by the late Carl Sagan to the concept that we may be the only ones, if not the first.

Out now from Princeton Press!
Out now from Princeton Press!


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Review: Heaven’s Touch by James B. Kaler

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Out now from Princeton University Press!

Everyone seems to be in a “Death from Above” mood this year. At the happier end of the cosmic spectrum, I give you Heavens Touch, by professor James B. Kaler and out recently courtesy of Princeton Press. Ever wonder were the elemental boron in your laundry cleaner came from? This book will reveal this and other remarkable cosmic secrets. But it’s also a much broader tale, of how the cosmos around us is intertwined with our existence, from the creation of the tides to the precipitation of the elements to the role of cosmic radiation. [Read more...]