Revolutionaries of the Cosmos: The Astro-Physicists

Revolutionaries of the Cosmos: The Astro-Physicists

by Ian Glass
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0199550255

ISBN-13: 9780199550258

Pub. Date: 12/30/2008

Publisher: Oxford University Press

Galileo, Newton, Herschel, Huggins, Hale, Eddington, Shapley and Hubble: these astronomers applied ideas drawn from physics to astronomy and made dramatic changes to the world-pictures that they inherited. They showed that celestial objects are composed of the same materials as the earth and that they behave in the same way. They displaced successively the

Overview

Galileo, Newton, Herschel, Huggins, Hale, Eddington, Shapley and Hubble: these astronomers applied ideas drawn from physics to astronomy and made dramatic changes to the world-pictures that they inherited. They showed that celestial objects are composed of the same materials as the earth and that they behave in the same way. They displaced successively the earth, the sun and finally the milky way galaxy from being the centre of the universe.

This book contains their biographies and outlines their greatest discoveries. Hard work, physical insight, desire for fame and a strong belief in the rightness of their own ideas were characteristics of all eight. Their often quirky personalities led them into bitter controversies with their contemporaries. But their successes arose from the outstanding clarity of their thoughts, their practical ability and their strong sense of direction in science.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199550258
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
12/30/2008
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: Talent and opportunity 1

1.1 The astro-physicists 1

1.2 Setting the scene 3

1.3 The talented individual 4

1.4 Motivation 5

1.5 The need for support 6

1.6 Lifetimes in science 6

References 7

2 Galileo: Seeing and believing 8

2.1 Early years 9

2.2 Studies in Pisa 9

2.3 Florence and Siena 11

2.4 Professor at Pisa 1589-1592 11

2.5 Padua 1592-1610 12

2.6 The telescope 15

2.7 The nature of the moon 16

2.8 Return to Florence 17

2.9 Mature scientist 19

2.10 Sunspots 21

2.11 Beginnings of clerical opposition 23

2.12 Science and scripture 24

2.13 Towards the Ptolemaic-Copernican 'Dialogue' 25

2.14 Publication 29

2.15 Private life 30

2.16 Trial-A 'vehement suspicion of heresy' 31

2.17 Aftermath of the trial 33

2.18 Discourses: 'Two New Sciences' 34

2.19 Last years 35

References 38

3 Isaac Newton: Rationalising the universe 40

3.1 Trinity College, Cambridge 43

3.2 Intellectual awakening 44

3.3 Discoveries during the plague years 46

3.4 Beginnings of recognition 48

3.5 Lucasian Professor 49

3.6 The first reflecting telescope 50

3.7 'The oddest, if not the most considerable, detection' 52

3.8 Leibniz and the early papers of Newton 55

3.9 Newton as heretic 56

3.10 Principia 58

3.11 Fame 61

3.12 University politician 62

3.13 Change of character 62

3.14 Fatio 63

3.15 Nervous breakdown 64

3.16 Opticks 65

3.17 Warden of the Mint 66

3.18 President of the Royal Society 67

3.19 Relations with Flamsteed 69

3.20 Knighthood 70

3.21 Dispute with Leibniz 71

3.22 Old age 72

References 75

4 William Herschel: Surveying the heavens 76

4.1 The Herschel family 76

4.2 Hanoveryears 77

4.3 Wandering musician 78

4.4 Life in Bath 80

4.5 Crazy about telescopes 82

4.6 Recognition as an astronomer 85

4.7 Sweeping the sky 86

4.8 Discovery of Uranus 89

4.9 King George III 92

4.10 Motion of the Sun 94

4.11 Construction of the Heavens 95

4.12 Minor discoveries 96

4.13 Datchet, Windsor and the 40-ft telescope 97

4.14 Telescope business 99

4.15 Marriage 102

4.16 Social life 104

4.17 Later discoveries and interests 108

4.18 Doubtful speculations 109

4.19 Asteroids and the Celestial Police 110

4.20 John Frederick William Herschel 110

4.21 Last years of Caroline 113

References 114

5 William Huggins: Celestial chemical analysis 117

5.1 Early years 118

5.2 Shopkeeper 119

5.3 Independence 120

5.4 'A spring of water in a dry and thirsty land' 121

5.5 The 'Riddle of the Nebulae' 128

5.6 Nova T CrB 130

5.7 Comets 131

5.8 Frustrating interlude 131

5.9 Radial motion of the stars 132

5.10 New facilities 133

5.11 Witness at a seance and other activities 137

5.12 An able and enthusiastic assistant 138

5.13 A Victorian household 139

5.14 Advent of photographic spectra 141

5.15 Further spectroscopic forays 143

5.16 The mystery of 'Nebulium' 143

5.17 Eminent Victorian 144

5.18 Margaret Huggins and education 146

5.19 A place of pilgrimage 150

5.20 Last years of William ... 150

5.21 ... and of Margaret 151

References 153

6 George Ellery Hale: Providing the tools 156

6.1 MIT student 159

6.2 Meeting with Rowland 160

6.3 Invention of the spectroheliograph 161

6.4 Marriage and honeymoon 163

6.5 The Kenwood Observatory 163

6.6 Discoveries at Kenwood 165

6.7 University of Chicago 167

6.8 Yerkes-the largest refracting telescope ever made 167

6.9 The Astrophysical Journal 169

6.10 Yerkes Observatory completed 169

6.11 The 60-in. mirror 171

6.12 First attempt on Carnegie 172

6.13 Early days on Mount Wilson 173

6.14 Success with Carnegie 175

6.15 The Snow Telescope 176

6.16 The solar towers 178

6.17 The 60-in. reflector 178

6.18 Hale and the development of Caltech 179

6.19 The 100-in. Hooker telescope 181

6.20 Mental illness 182

6.21 Life and work on Mount Wilson 185

6.22 World War 187

6.23 Completion of the 100-in. 188

6.24 The years as a recluse 190

6.25 The Hale Solar Observatory 191

6.26 Continued public service 194

6.27 The 200-in. Palomar reflector 194

6.28 Slow decline 196

References 197

7 Arthur Eddington: Inside the stars 198

7.1 Trinity College, Cambridge 199

7.2 Royal Greenwich Observatory; Kapteyn's 'Star Drifts' 200

7.3 Professor at Cambridge 201

7.4 'Stellar Movements and the Structure of the Universe' 202

7.5 The Hertzsprung-Russell diagram 204

7.6 Eddington's 'physical intuition' 205

7.7 Prophet of relativity 206

7.8 Conscientious objector 209

7.9 The solar eclipse of 1919 210

7.10 Aftermath of the eclipse 213

7.11 Influence on Lemaitre 215

7.12 The internal constitution of the stars 216

7.13 The mass-luminosity relation 218

7.14 Recreations 219

7.15 Sureness or cocksureness? 221

7.16 The Expanding Universe 223

7.17 The strange case of Chandrasekhar and Sirius B 224

7.18 Eddington's wilder speculations 227

7.19 Recollections of Eddington's students 229

7.20 Frustrations 231

7.21 Final year, illness, and death 232

References 233

8 Harlow Shapley: Defining our galaxy 235

8.1 University of Missouri 237

8.2 Princeton and Henry Norris Russell 239

8.3 'Standard candles' and the distances of the stars 241

8.4 First visit to Harvard 243

8.5 On to Mount Wilson 243

8.6 The Cepheid and RR Lyrae standard candles 244

8.7 The distances of the globular clusters 245

8.8 The centre of the Milky Way 246

8.9 A near miss 247

8.10 The 'Great Debate' 248

8.11 Director of Harvard College Observatory 250

8.12 The Harvard Graduate School 253

8.13 'Shapley's Universe' 255

8.14 Exploring the southern sky 257

8.15 The distribution of galaxies in space 257

8.16 Diversions from astronomy 259

8.17 The Sculptor and Fornax dwarf galaxies 259

8.18 The sociable Director 260

8.19 Other activities 261

8.20 International affairs 261

8.21 Losing the initiative 262

8.22 Post-war social concerns 264

8.23 The 'Communist in the State Department' 264

8.24 Retirement 265

References 266

9 Edwin Hubble: Journeying to the edge 268

9.1 Birth and early years 268

9.2 University of Chicago 270

9.3 Rhodes Scholar 271

9.4 Back to the United States 273

9.5 Graduate student at Yerkes 273

9.6 Major Hubble 275

9.7 Mount Wilson 276

9.8 The distances of the galaxies 279

9.9 Marriage 280

9.10 The 'Tuning Fork' diagram 282

9.11 The Hubbles at home 284

9.12 The recession of the nebulae 285

9.13 Distance indicators 289

9.14 Inner doubts 290

9.15 The Hubble and van Maanen problem 290

9.16 Celebrity status 291

9.17 Counting the galaxies 292

9.18 'The Realm of the Nebulae' 292

9.19 Second World War 294

9.20 The post-war period 295

9.21 Last years 297

References 300

Index 302

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