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The View From the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos
     

The View From the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos

3.7 7
by Joel R. Primack
 

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In this strikingly original book, a world-renowned cosmologist and an innovative writer of the history and philosophy of science uncover an astonishing truth: Humans actually are central to the universe. What does this mean for our culture and our personal lives? The answer is revolutionary: a science-based cosmology that allows us to understand the universe as a

Overview

In this strikingly original book, a world-renowned cosmologist and an innovative writer of the history and philosophy of science uncover an astonishing truth: Humans actually are central to the universe. What does this mean for our culture and our personal lives? The answer is revolutionary: a science-based cosmology that allows us to understand the universe as a whole and our extraordinary place in it.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101126882
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/07/2007
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
711,647
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams are married and have unusually complementary viewpoints. Joel R. Primack is one of the world’s leading cosmologists and helped create the foundational theory of the evolution of the universe. Nancy Ellen Abrams is a writer and lawyer with a background in the history, philosophy, and politics of science, who has worked on science and technology policy. She has also for over two decades closely followed Joel’s research, attended countless astrophysics conferences, and talked to almost everyone in the field. Together they have developed and taught a prize-winning course at the University of California, Santa Cruz, called Cosmology and Culture.



Joel R. Primack, Professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, specializes in the formation and evolution of galaxies and the nature of the dark matter that makes up most of the matter in the universe. Primack received his A.B. from Princeton in 1966 and his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1970. He was then a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows of Harvard University. After helping to create what is now called the “Standard Model” of particle physics, Primack began working in cosmology in the late 1970s and he became a leader in the new field of particle astrophysics. He is one of the principal originators and developers of the theory of Cold Dark Matter, which has become the basis for the standard modern picture of structure formation in the universe. With support from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Department of Energy, he uses supercomputers to simulate and visualize the evolution of the universe under various assumptions, and compare the predictions of these theories to the latest observational data. Primack was made a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) in 1988 “for pioneering contributions to gauge theory and cosmology.” He served on the Executive Committee of the APS Division of Astrophysics 2001-2002. He has won awards for his research from the A. P. Sloan Foundation and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Dr. Primack’s research in cosmology is described in most modern books on the subject, and he has been profiled at some length in several books including New York Times science writer Dennis Overbye's Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos and Time magazine science editor Michael Lemonick’s The Light at the Edge of the Universe. Primack is also frequently interviewed by reporters for print and broadcast media. He was one of the main advisors for the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum's 1996 IMAX film Cosmic Voyage. In addition to more than 200 technical articles in professional journals, Primack has written a number of articles aimed at a more popular audience. These include the articles on “gravitation,” “matter,” “dark matter,” “dark energy,” and other physics and astronomy topics in the World Book Encyclopedia, and articles in publications such as Astronomy, Beam Line, California Wild, Sky and Telescope, and in the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and the Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics.



Primack shared the APS Forum on Physics and Society Award in 1977 with Frank von Hippel of Princeton for their book Advice and Dissent: Scientists in the Political Arena (Basic Books, 1974; New American Library, 1976). In 1995 Primack was made a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), “for pioneering efforts in the establishment of the AAAS Congressional Science Fellows Program and for dedication to expanding the use of science in policymaking throughout government.” He has served on the board of the Federation of American Scientists and was a founder of the Union of Concerned Scientists. His most recent science policy work has been on efforts to protect the near-Earth space environment; his popular articles on this have appeared in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Science, Scientific American, and Technology Review. He was a member of the APS Panel on Public Affairs 2002-2004, and is currently chair of the APS Forum on Physics and Society. He has also served as an advisor to and participant in the Science and the Spiritual Quest project, and as chairman of the advisory committee for the AAAS Program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion 2000-2002.





Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams are married and have unusually complementary viewpoints. Joel R. Primack is one of the world’s leading cosmologists and helped create the foundational theory of the evolution of the universe. Nancy Ellen Abrams is a writer and lawyer with a background in the history, philosophy, and politics of science, who has worked on science and technology policy. She has also for over two decades closely followed Joel’s research, attended countless astrophysics conferences, and talked to almost everyone in the field. Together they have developed and taught a prize-winning course at the University of California, Santa Cruz, called Cosmology and Culture.


Nancy Ellen Abrams received her B.A. in the history and philosophy of science from the University of Chicago, her J.D. from the University of Michigan, and a diploma in international law from the Escuela Libre de Derecho in Mexico City. She was a Fulbright Scholar and a Woodrow Wilson Designate. She is a writer whose work has appeared in journals, newspapers, and magazines, such as The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Environment, California Lawyer, Science and Global Security, and Tikkun. She has a long-term interest in the role of science in shaping a new politics and has worked in this area for a European environmental think tank in Rome, the Ford Foundation, and the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress, where she co-invented (with R. Stephen Berry of the National Academy of Sciences) a novel procedure called “Scientific Mediation.” This procedure permits government agencies to make intelligent policy decisions in areas where the relevant science is crucial yet controversial. Scientific Mediation aims not to resolve scientific disputes, which can only be done by scientific research, but to make the essence of the disputed issue transparent to the non-scientists making the actual policy decision. She has consulted on its use for the state governments of California and Wisconsin, private corporations and organizations, and the government of Sweden, where Scientific Mediation has become standard procedure in the Ministry of Industry. With Joel R. Primack, she co-authored a prize-winning article on quantum cosmology and Kabbalah, as well as numerous articles on science policy, space policy, and cultural implications of modern cosmology.

Abrams is also a songwriter who has performed at conferences, concerts, and events in eighteen countries, released three albums, and been featured on National Public Radio and television. New York Times science writer Dennis Overbye’s bestseller, Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos, describes her songs, includes a photo of her with Joel, and closes with the complete lyrics to a song she wrote for and performed at the 1986 Nearly Normal Galaxies conference, one of many major astronomy conferences where she has performed. The late Senator Paul Wellstone used lyrics from another of Nancy’s songs as chapter headings in his book Powerline. Several of the songs on her 2002 album, Alien Wisdom, explore themes from The View from the Center of the Universe.



Abrams has been intrigued by science’s border with myth since studying with Mircea Eliade at the University of Chicago. She works as a scholar to put the discoveries of modern cosmology into a cultural context and as a writer and artist to communicate their possible meanings at a deeper level. “Cosmology and Culture,” the course she and Joel developed and have co-taught since 1996 at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has received awards from both the Templeton Foundation and the American Council of Learned Societies. Abrams and Primack’s co-written articles have appeared in books and magazines including Astronomy Now, Philosophy in Science, Science, Science&Spirit, Spirituality and Health, and Tikkun.



Over the past ten years, they have given many invited talks on themes from The View from the Center of the Universe not only at universities but at planetariums, cultural centers, conferences, churches, and synagogues. Their talks are multimedia presentations, in which Joel presents new cosmological ideas and Nancy discusses their meaning and relevance, performs her own songs, and sometimes leads the audience in guided contemplations to help them visualize the ideas. In their attempt to bring science to the public, they have spoken at venues from the State of the World Forum in New York and the Senate Chamber of France to the North American Montessori Teachers Association and the Cornelia Street Café in New York City.




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The View From the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I teach astronomy at a local college. My interest in science started years ago in the discovery of Isaac Asimov and his infinite interests. He won my heart with his ability to explain difficult subjects in terms that allowed me to keep reading, going to the mathematics later if I were so inclined. When I got through with an Asimov book I felt I knew the subject at an educated layman's level. Remember back a decade or so when Hawking's 'A Brief History of Time' appeared on every coffee table? Few that I met could converse about it, assuming they had been able to finish it. Explaining science is a different art than doing it. With this book I felt that I had returned to my youth. Primack and Abrams have delivered an important work that is readable to the depth you desire. TVFCU, to abbreviate it, makes science, in this case cosmology, the concern of everyone. They explain the concepts of the Big Bang and its implications not only to the universe in general but to us in particular. They find that normal language is not sufficient for the task and rely instead on metaphor. They show how mankind, from the beginning, has explained things in this fashion and we would do well to emulate them. Metaphor gives examples that are easy to remember and pass on to everyone. Mathematics, valid in scientific depth, limits the audience. When you get done reading you have a good idea of the reality of the universe and terms with which you can think about it, helping you to find your place in this infinity. Rather than being overwhelmed, one might find cause for happiness in being a human being at this period of the cosmic age. The one drawback I have is the number of index notes. Almost a quarter of the book consists of these notes, many of them integral to understanding the material. I would like to have seen more of these notes incorporated into the main text and other lesser information put in footnotes, leaving the back of the book with citations of authors quoted. It's difficult to read a book flipping back and forth several times per paragraph. Word is, the paperback version is due in several months and I will be getting some as gifts for friends who specialized in the humanities. I recommend this book highly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BookishBlonde More than 1 year ago
I won't even attempt a review. Many of the concepts were difficult to wrap my head around but even so it was one of the most fascinating books I've ever read!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The only good parts of this effort are the chapters which review the current state of cosmological research. The rest is simply another 'be afraid be very afraid' exposition of how bad things are. The scientist of the pair apparently had to accomdate the 'song writer' partner in order to keep peace in the family. The is also a danger here in that the citations, which are resonably developed to suport the authors views, are not described or categorized as all having a slanted and negative view of the world