BN.com Gift Guide

The Biggest Bangs: The Mystery of Gamma-ray Bursts, the Most Violent Explosions in the Universe

Overview

Gamma-ray bursts are the most violent events since the birth of the universe. They are about ten times more energetic than the most powerful supernovae. At their peak, gamma-ray bursts are the brightest objects in space, about 100,000 times brighter than an entire galaxy. And yet until recently these titanic eruptions were the most mysterious events in astronomy.
In The Biggest Bangs, astrophysicist Jonathan Katz offers a fascinating account of the scientific quest to unravel ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (19) from $1.99   
  • New (5) from $8.65   
  • Used (14) from $1.99   
The Biggest Bangs: The Mystery of Gamma-Ray Bursts, the Most Violent Explosions in the Universe

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$41.00
BN.com price

Overview

Gamma-ray bursts are the most violent events since the birth of the universe. They are about ten times more energetic than the most powerful supernovae. At their peak, gamma-ray bursts are the brightest objects in space, about 100,000 times brighter than an entire galaxy. And yet until recently these titanic eruptions were the most mysterious events in astronomy.
In The Biggest Bangs, astrophysicist Jonathan Katz offers a fascinating account of the scientific quest to unravel the mystery of these incredible phenomena. With an eye for colorful detail and a talent for translating scientific jargon into plain English, Katz ranges from the accidental discovery of gamma-ray bursts (by a Cold War satellite system monitoring the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty) to the frustrating but ultimately successful efforts to localize these bursts in distant galaxies. He describes the theories, the equipment (the most recent breakthrough was made with a telescope you could carry under your arm), and the pioneers who have finally begun to explain these strange bursts. And along the way, he offers important lessons about science itself, arguing that "small science" is as valuable as institutionalized "big science," that observations are more the product of advances in technology than of theory, and that theory is only "the concentrated essence of experiment."
With the advent of the space age a mere 40 years ago, we have grown used to strangeness in the universe—and confident in science's ability to explain it. In The Biggest Bangs, Jonathan Katz shows that there are still wonders out there that exceed the bounds of our imagination and defy our ability to understand them.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Delightful and informative, in a style reminiscent of Richard Rhodes. Katz combines history with physical insight to make the unfolding story of gamma ray bursts read like a novel. He shows forefront astrophysics being done by humans, in an illuminating way that only a true expert and insider could." —Richard A. Muller, Professor of Physics at Berkeley, author of Ice Ages and their Astronomical Origins

"A wonderful book for the intellectually curious of all ages: from high school to high table. Katz takes us through the history and the mystery of the biggest bangs of all, the gamma-ray bursts. He also manages to explain the essence of some of the other major puzzles in modern astronomy. All of this Katz accomplishes with a style that is simple and easy to read. Because he has such a mastery of the technical aspects of the subject, Katz is able to distill the main points of the argument into non-mathematical prose that is fun and informative. I would recommend this book highly to young people thinking of entering a career into science and to senior citizens seeking intellectual excitement, and everyone in between." —John Bahcall, author of Neutrino Astrophysics

"This unusual and stimulating book on Gamma Ray Bursts describes theory and observations in laymen's language, mixed with history, science politics, controversy and personalities. Beyond the single topic of Gamma Ray Bursts it illustrates the chaotic way which science usually follows, by showing not only the successes but the many false starts which nevertheless help the process." —Edwin E. Salpeter, J.G. White Distinguished Professor of Physical Sciences, Emeritus, Cornell University

Luigi Piro
The Biggest Bangs details the early measurements, achievements, false trails, and problems that scientists faced before afterglows were discovered. Katz is a theoretician who has worked in the GRB [gamma-ray burst] field, and he turns a physicist's eye on the main astrophysical problems using non-mathematical yet rigorous prose. Often, he widens the problems encountered in the GRB firld to touch on other major riddles in modern astronomy. His explanations are enriched with informative historical links.
July 18, 2002 issue of Nature magazine
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195145700
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Katz earned his Ph.D. at Cornell University at the age of twenty-two. A Professor of Physics at Washington University in St. Louis, he has worked on problems as diverse as X-ray stars, earthquakes, the fracture of glass, and gamma-ray bursts.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface ix
Introduction 1
1. Vela 3
2. Detectors 12
3. Where Are They? 21
4. What Are They? 29
5. Compactness 40
6. The Large Magellanic Cloud 50
7. False Lines 60
8. False Light 70
9. The Copernican Dilemma 82
10. Soft Gamma Repeaters 94
11. Batse 106
12. The Great Debate 116
13. The Theorists' Turn 126
14. Afterglows 139
15. A Supernova Connection? 152
16. The Holy Grail 162
17. The End of the Beginning 178
Afterword 181
Appendix Did a Gamma-ray Burst Kill the Dinosaurs? Will a Burst Kill Us? 185
Glossary 189
Sources 197
Index 209
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2002

    Amazing and Fascinating

    Gamma Ray Bursts are the most amazing things in the universe. They squirt out matter at 99.999% of the speed of light, and this makes gamma rays, visible light, and more. They are a billion times more powerful than an entire galaxy (fortunately, only for a few seconds!). A burst nearby could cause a great extinction on Earth, like the one which killed the dinosaurs. The Biggest Bangs is a fascinating account of gamma-ray bursts---their accidental discovery and how astronomers came to understand them. It shows how science really works, which isn't at all the way we were taught in school. Some of the human characters are real vipers, and Katz mounts their heads as trophies. If you enjoyed Hawking or Sagan, you'll like The Biggest Bangs too, bringing the latest science to the layman in understandable language which captures what the professionals do.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)