Origins: The Lives and Worlds of Modern Cosmologists

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Origins reveals the human being within the scientist in a study of the philosophical, personal, and social factors that enter into the scientific process. Twenty-seven active cosmologists—including Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose, Steven Weinberg, Vera Rubin, Allan Sandage, Margaret Geller, and Alan Guth—talk candidly about their childhoods and early influences, their motivations, prejudices, and worldviews. The book's lucid introduction traces the explosion of new ideas that has recently shaken cosmological ...

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Overview

Origins reveals the human being within the scientist in a study of the philosophical, personal, and social factors that enter into the scientific process. Twenty-seven active cosmologists—including Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose, Steven Weinberg, Vera Rubin, Allan Sandage, Margaret Geller, and Alan Guth—talk candidly about their childhoods and early influences, their motivations, prejudices, and worldviews. The book's lucid introduction traces the explosion of new ideas that has recently shaken cosmological thinking. Origins explores not just the origin of the universe but also the origins of scientific thought.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In these interviews with 27 leading figures in contemporary cosmology, the authors--themselves physicists--reveal a diverse and colorful group. Most interesting are revelations about the scientists' backgrounds: several came from families of modest means and were attracted to science by reading popularizations such as this one. Some interview questions elicit responses that might be too technical for general readers (although the authors provide a concise survey of current cosmology in the book's introduction), and philosophical questions such as, ``If you could design the universe any way that you wanted to, how would you do it?'', are often tedious. Avid readers of science popularizations, science students, and educators, as well as those attracted by the celebrity status of interviewees Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose, and others will create demand for this book.-- Gregg Sapp, Montana State Univ. Lib., Bozeman
Booknews
The authors--experienced in cosmology/astrophysics, in the history and social study of science, and as writers about science--have (beginning in 1987) interviewed 27 leadings figures (theorists, observers) in the world of research cosmology. Here they provide a photo of each of the persons interviewed, the brief biographical facts relating to his/her life, and a report (running typically to about twenty pages) of informed and probing discussion of how that scientist came to take up his/her line of research, of major influences, of pressing open questions and predicted future developments. The cosmologists in question emerge as people...interesting people...people of remarkable diversity. A good introductory essay serves effectively to set the stage. Beyond its interest both to students of the field and to the general public, the book is likely to engage influentially the imaginations of young readers. (NW) Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674644700
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 9/14/1990
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Lightman is Professor of Science and Writing and Senior Lecturer in Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also a Research Scientist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

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Table of Contents

Preface

Introduction to Modern Cosmology

Fred Hoyle

Allan Sandage

Gérard De Vaucouleurs

Maarten Schmidt

Wallace Sargent

Dennis Sciama

Martin Rees

Robert Wagoner

Joseph Silk

Robert Dicke

James Peebles

Charles Misner

James Gunn

Jeremiah Ostriker

Vera Rubin

Edwin Turner

Sandra Faber

Marc Davis

Margaret Geller

John Huchra

Stephen Hawking

Don Page

Roger Penrose

David Schramm

Steven Weinberg

Alan Guth

Andrei Linde

Dates and Places of Interviews

Note on Citations and References

Notes

General Reading in Cosmology

References

Glossary

Illustration Credits

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