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The Birth and Death of the Sun: Stellar Evolution and Subatomic Energy


How did our sun come into being? What keeps it hot and luminous, and what will be its ultimate fate? This fascinating and informative book offers answers to some of nature's most exciting and difficult questions. George Gamow, renowned physicist and author of the best-seller One Two Three . . . Infinity, outlines the fundamental discoveries and theories of modern physics that illuminate the evolution of our world.
One of the founders of Big Bang theory, Gamow traces the anatomy...
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How did our sun come into being? What keeps it hot and luminous, and what will be its ultimate fate? This fascinating and informative book offers answers to some of nature's most exciting and difficult questions. George Gamow, renowned physicist and author of the best-seller One Two Three . . . Infinity, outlines the fundamental discoveries and theories of modern physics that illuminate the evolution of our world.
One of the founders of Big Bang theory, Gamow traces the anatomy of matter in terms of modern physics. In language that's both scientifically accurate and simple enough for nonspecialists, he explains the development of atomic theory from its earliest articulation by Democritus in 375 B.C. through studies of nuclear reactions and radioactive decay. Along the way, Gamow discusses the formation of the stars and planets, the nature of red and white dwarfs, the dimensions of our stellar system, the infinity of space, and other fascinating subjects.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780486442310
  • Publisher: Dover Publications
  • Publication date: 6/28/2005
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 900,443
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 0.54 (d)

Meet the Author

A renowned physicist and author of the bestseller One Two Three . . . Infinity, George Gamow is one of the founders of the Big Bang theory.

Modern Science Made Easy
By one of the leading physicists of the twentieth century, George Gamow's One, Two, Three…Infinity is one of the most memorable popular books on physics, mathematics, and science generally ever written, famous for having, directly or indirectly, launched the academic and/or scientific careers of many young people whose first real encounter with the wonders and mysteries of mathematics and science was through reading this book as a teenager. Untypically for popular science books, this one is enhanced by the author's own delightful sketches. Reviewers were enthusiastic when One, Two, Three…Infinity was published in 1947.

In the Author's Own Words:
"If and when all the laws governing physical phenomena are finally discovered, and all the empirical constants occurring in these laws are finally expressed through the four independent basic constants, we will be able to say that physical science has reached its end, that no excitement is left in further explorations, and that all that remains to a physicist is either tedious work on minor details or the self-educational study and adoration of the magnificence of the completed system. At that stage physical science will enter from the epoch of Columbus and Magellan into the epoch of the National Geographic Magazine!" — George Gamow

Critical Acclaim for One, Two, Three…Infinity:
"This skillful presentation is for the non-professional and professional scientist. It will broaden the knowledge of each and give the imagination wide play." — Chemistry and Engineering News

"A stimulating and provocative book for the science-minded layman." — Kirkus Reviews

"This is a layman's book as readable as a historical novel, but every chapter bears the solid imprint of authoritative research." — San Francisco Chronice

"George Gamow succeeds where others fail because of his remarkable ability to combine technical accuracy, choice of material, dignity of expression, and readability." — Saturday Review of Literature

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Table of Contents

Prefaces v
Note on Units of Measurement xix
1 The Sun and Its Energy 1
The Sun and Life on Earth
The Unit of Energy
The Radiation Energy of the Sun
The Temperature of the Sun
The Density of the Sun
Surface Phenomena on the Sun
The Age of the Sun
Does the Sun Really "Burn"?
The Contraction Hypothesis
Subatomic Energy
2 The Anatomy of Atoms 15
The Atom as Philosophic Idea
Alchemy and the Medieval Gold-Fever
Elementary Chemistry
The Kinetic Theory of Heat
The Energy of Molecular Motion
Measuring the Molecular Velocities
Statistics and the Maxwell Distribution
Are Atoms Really Elementary Particles?
Ancient Persian Electrogilding
The Elementary Electric Charge of Atoms
The Atomicity of Electric Charge on Small Bodies
The Electron as an Elementary Electric Particle
The Mass of an Electron
The Atomic Model
Atomic Number and the Sequence of Elements
The Shell Structure of an Atom
Chemical Binding
The Classical Theory Fails in the Atom!
Quantum Laws
The New Mechanics
The problem of the Atomic Nucleus
3 The Transmutation of Elements 50
The Discovery of Radioactivity
The Decay of Very Heavy Atoms
Liberated Energy and Decay Periods
The "Leaking Out" Theory of Radioactive [alpha]-Decay
The Process of [beta]-Decay as an Electric Adjustment of the Nucleus
Back to Alchemy
Photographing Nuclear Bombardment
Cracking the Nitrogen Atom
Bombardment by Protons
The Electrostatic "Atom-Smasher"
The Cyclotron
New "Penetrating" Projectiles
The Results of Neutron Bombardment
Bursting a Nucleus
4 Can Subatomic Energy be Harnessed? 75
Energy versus Gold
The Low rate of Subatomic Energy Liberation
The Probability of a Charged Projectile's Hitting a Nucleus
Penetrating the Nuclear Fortress
Resonance Disintegration
Bombardment by Neutrons
Multiplicative Nuclear Reactions
The Price of Uranium Energy
Recapitulation: The Structure of the Atom
5 The Alchemy of the Sun 89
Subatomic Energy and Solar Heat
Thermonuclear Reactions
The Temperatures Necessary for Thermonuclear Reactions
How to Make a "Subatomic Motor"
The Solar Furnace
The Solar Reaction
The Evolution of the Sun
What Then?
6 The Sun Among the Stars 107
How Bright Are the Stars? The Color of Stars and Spectral Classes
The Russell Diagram
Stellar Masses
Nuclear Reactions in Stars
A Competing Reaction in the Lighter Stars
Stellar Evolution
Stellar Evolution and the Mass-Luminosity Relation
The Youth and Old Age of Stars
7 Red Giants and the Youth of the Sun 124
Some Typical Red Giants
Inside the Red Giants
The Reactions of Light Elements
The Absence of the Lightest Elements in the Sun
The Reactions of Light Elements in Red Giants
The Evolution of Red Giants
Pulsating Stars
The Theory of Stellar Pulsation
Three Groups of Pulsating Stars
The Cause of Pulsation
8 White Dwarfs and the Dying Sun 140
The End of Stellar Evolution
The Collapse of Matter
The Properties of the Crushed State of Matter
How Large Can the Largest Stone Be?
Jupiter as the Largest Stone
The Mass-Radius Relationship of Collapsed Bodies
White Dwarfs
When Our Sun Is Dying
9 Can Our Sun Explode? 155
The Novae
Two Classes of Stellar Explosion
The Chances of Our Own Sun's Exploding
The Prenova Stage of Stars
The Process of Explosion
What Causes Stellar Explosions?
Supernovae and the "Nuclear State" of Matter
10 The Formation of Stars and Planets 171
Stars as "Gas Drops"
Does the Process of Star Formation Continue at Present?
The Origin of White Dwarfs
What About Planets?
11 Island Universes 182
The Milky Way
The Number of Stars in the Sky
The Dimensions of Our Stellar System
The Motion of Stars Within the Galaxy
The Velocities of Stars
The Rotation of the Galaxy
The Age of the Milky Way
Other "Galaxies"
Distances and Dimensions of Extragalactic Nebulae
Extragalactic "Nebulae" Are Not Nebulae
The Rotation of Extragalactic Nebulae and the Origin of Spiral Arms
12 The Birth of the Universe 195
Nebulae Running Away
An Expanding Universe
Which Are Older: Stars or Galaxies?
The Early Stages of Expansion and the Creation of Radioactive Elements
The Infinity of Space
Conclusion 203
Chronology 206
Appendix 207
Index 215
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