Looking at the Invisible Universe

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 10-12-- A book that describes how astronomers unravel mysteries about the universe and sometimes stumble upon new ones. The text recounts how scientists discovered light invisible to the human eye and how that lead to quantum physics. Each segment of the electomagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to gamma rays, earns a chapter. Readers are introduced to the pioneers in the field and learn of their discoveries, ranging from black holes to volcanoes on distant moons, in a briskly moving narrative that ends with discussions of cosmology and the formation of new universes. Jespersen and Fitz-Randolph are quite knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their material, yet present the physical principles simply and without mathematics. This is, however, difficult information to digest, and some familiarity with physics and chemistry is recommended. In fact, because the authors focus on how the technology works, it is an ideal second book on astronomy. Black-and-white drawings and photographs scattered throughout help to illustrate some of the material. Unfortunately, there are many places in which sufficient illustrative material is lacking to clarify a discussion, such as a photograph of a neutrino detection tank or a drawing of the ``onion'' layers of a star about to supernova. Despite that one complaint, this is a clear and lively description of modern science. --Alan Newman, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689314575
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/1/1990
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 12 years

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  • Posted November 14, 2010

    An informative read

    The book like it says in the age range is not one for beginners of astronomy. Although the book does explain many things on astronomy, to read the book like a good novel, the reader must have a rudimentary understanding of physics. However, if the reader is prepared to go through the task of slowing down and examining the more challenging areas, the book may serve as a very informative text concerning major development of astronomy particularly in the 20th century. The book contains ideas that are not elementary, but intermediately complex such that it is at the level of high school students. Ideas are given in theory but lack the complex mathematics that was given by the original scientists to support it.
    (Spoiler warning kinda) The book begins with an introduction along with a question that is eventually answered in later portions of the book. Following the introduction is the talk over the electromagnetic spectrum, the types of frequencies it holds and absorption lines found by looking at stars with a spectroscope. The third chapter follows with a discussion over blackbodies, the ultraviolet catastrophe and the idea of quanta following the rise of what they call modern physics. Ensuing this is an explanation on absorption lines and the Bohr atom and its relationship to astronomy including the model atom's use to find the elements in stars.
    Although the book appears to be edged toward physics in the earlier chapters the book eventually provides more information on astronomy. Using the physics background knowledge given in the first few chapters, the book then expands on the use of different methods to accomplish major astronomical discoveries. Major topics include pulsars, the development and death of stars, cosmic rays, supernovas, parts of the sun and other topics along with the methods used and the logic provided to make the findings (making it a very interesting read for this reason along). It is here that the title Looking at the Invisible Universe really comes into play as the book goes into major areas of astronomy including observing different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum from celestial objects. It is here that the book mainly concentrates and it appears to be a major focus of the 19th century. Famed areas include radio astronomy and Infrared Astronomy both covered in major sections of the book.
    The book then goes back to physics with interesting bits on subatomic particles such as fermions and bosons, and quarks and leptons. It then follows with theories such as the big bang theory and its successor the theory of cosmic inflation. However solar system exploration is not lost, Looking at the Invisible Universe devotes an entire chapter to examining solar system exploration including in particular explorations by space probes especially Voyager 2. The book also examines one of the other major discoveries made in the 20th century the theory that the universe is expanding with evidence provided by Edwin Hubble.(spoilers ending)
    The pros of the book are many. The book is very informative and takes almost little background knowledge to read if the reader wishes to read the book to understand concepts. To read the book as a novel, as I've stated before, is another matter. Major topics in astronomy, I feel, are covered by the book including the utmost important methodologies of how the scientists reached the conclusions they discovered/ achieved. The book also provides various analogies to help the reader understand

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