Cosmic Dispatches: The New York Times Reports on Astronomy and Cosmology / Edition 1

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"A must for every armchair cosmic voyager."—Science News
The scientists seeking to unravel the mysteries of the universe are among the most imaginative and provocative explorers of our time. Like the geographic explorers of earlier centuries, they venture into uncharted spaces, come upon new worlds, expand the knowable, and challenge thinking about the place of humans in all things. Collected here are the most exciting moments of recent astronomical explorations, presented by the award-winning science reporters of The New York Times. Recent leaps in technology have allowed astronomers to peer deeply into the universe and to bring into focus fascinating and unsuspected phenomena. Cosmic Dispatches conveys in thrilling detail the meaning and significance of what scientists have been learning about our universe.

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Editorial Reviews

Science News
A must for every armchair cosmic voyager.
A collection of 60 articles by six science correspondents (including editor Wilford) published in the during the mid- to late-1990s. Not substantially altered from the originals (except to remove redundancies or dated material), the articles cover questions ranging from the origins of the universe, its age, and its expansion, to the future of exploration on Mars, the search for extraterrestrial life, and the possibility of a unifying scientific theory. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393322774
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/17/2002
  • Edition description: 2ND
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

John Noble Wilford, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, has reported on science for The New York Times since 1965.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Informed Wonder 9
The Big Bang of Dispatches 19
1. Let There Be Light 24
New Vistas Open for Earthbound Astronomers 25
What Else Lurks Out There? 32
The New X-ray View of Galaxies 37
Observatory for Twenty-first Century Takes Shape 41
Pictures of the Infant Universe 47
2. Travels in the Solar System 51
Apollo and the Moon's Violent Birth 52
Water on the Moon? 57
Venus's Face Offers Hints of Cataclysm 60
The Comet's Gift: Hints of How Earth Came to Life 64
Magnetic Fields on Distant Moons Hint at Hidden Life 69
Fire, Water, and, Maybe, Life in Jupiter's Realm 72
3. The Once and Future Martians 77
Clues in Meteorite Seem to Show Signs of Life on Mars Long Ago 78
On Mars, Life's Getting Tougher (If Not Impossible) 82
Spacecraft to Land on the Planet of Dreams 85
The Floods of Mars 88
A "Bonus" from Mars 91
Highs and Lows of Mars 94
4. New Worlds 97
A Nursery of New Planets 98
Two Sightings of Planet Orbiting a Sunlike Star 101
More Discoveries of Extrasolar Planets 103
In a Golden Age of Discovery, Faraway Worlds Beckon 106
A Disk of Dust Holds a Clue to Birth of Planets 116
Search for New Planets Yields Confusion 118
At Long Last, a New Family of Planets 124
5. The Birth and Death of Stars 128
Rare Glimpse of a New Star Aborning 129
New Look at Apocalypse: Dying Sun Will Boil Seas and Leave Orbiting Cinder 133
The Spectacular Shudders of Dying Stars 138
6. Some Strange and Awesome Things 142
Space Telescope Confirms Theory of Black Holes 143
A Black Hole's Awful Table Manners 146
Enormous Plume of Antimatter Alters View of the Milky Way 150
Astronomers Detect Explosion Second Only to Big Bang 153
Astronomers Confirm the Existence of Failed Stars 156
A New Category of Brown Dwarfs 159
An Enormous Surge of Stellar Radiation 161
In Cosmic Blasts, Clues to Black Holes 164
7. Mystery of the Missing Mass 170
Physicists Step Up Exotic Search for the Universe's Missing Mass 171
Mass Found in Elusive Neutrino 177
Astronomers Glimpse Galaxies Aborning 182
The Universe as Telescope 187
Galaxies' Vastness Surprises Scientists 193
8. Cosmology Comes of Age 198
Sizing Up the Cosmos: An Astronomer's Quest 200
Profound Insight on How Time Began 206
In the Glow of Cosmic Discovery, a Physicist Ponders God and Fame 209
Scientists, Once Starry-Eyed, Get Clearer View of Universe 213
9. A Young or Old Universe? 218
Universe's Age Poses New Cosmic Puzzle 219
Einstein's Blunder as Fix for New Crisis 222
Conflicting Answers for the Age of the Universe 227
The Importance of the Number 70 232
A Younger Age, Perhaps? 235
10. Fate of the Universe 238
Wary Astronomers Ponder an Accelerating Universe 239
In the Light of Dying Stars, Astronomers See Intimations of Cosmic Immortality 243
"Missing Energy" of the Universe 252
At the Other End of "Big Bang" May Simply Be a Big Sputter 255
11. Looking and Listening for ET 259
Widening the Hunt for Alien Life 260
In Search of Star Dust and Clues to Life 264
Scanning the Heavens for Signs of Life 268
12. From the Big Bang to a Theory of Everything 274
A Primordial Form of Matter 275
New Findings Help Balance the Cosmological Books 278
Sailing a Wheelchair to the End of Time 285
Almost in Awe, Physicists Ponder "Ultimate" Theory 292
13. Cosmic Views from 2001 299
New View of a Nursery of Stars 300
Two More Planetary Systems 304
In Big Bang's Echoes, Clues to the Cosmos 307
With Little Evidence, String Theory Gains Influence 312
A Test of Einstein's Negative Gravity 315
Before the Big Bang, There Was ... What? 317
Index 325
About the Authors 343
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