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The Very First Light: The True Inside Story of the Scientific Journey Back to the Dawn of the Universe

Overview

In the early 1990s, a NASA-led team of scientists changed the way we view the universe. With the COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) project, they showed that the microwave radiation that fills the universe must have come from the Big Bang—effectively proving the Big Bang theory beyond any doubt. It was one of the greatest scientific findings of our generation, perhaps of all time. In The Very First Light, John Mather, one of COBE’s leaders, and science writer John Boslough tell the story of how it was achieved. A ...

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The Very First Light: The True Inside Story of the Scientific Journey Back to the Dawn of the Universe

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Overview

In the early 1990s, a NASA-led team of scientists changed the way we view the universe. With the COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) project, they showed that the microwave radiation that fills the universe must have come from the Big Bang—effectively proving the Big Bang theory beyond any doubt. It was one of the greatest scientific findings of our generation, perhaps of all time. In The Very First Light, John Mather, one of COBE’s leaders, and science writer John Boslough tell the story of how it was achieved. A gripping tale of big money, bigger egos, tense politics, and cutting-edge engineering, The Very First Light offers a rare insider’s account of the world of big science.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465005291
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 9/29/2008
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 669,327
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John C. Mather, Ph.D., is a Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He won the Nobel Prize in 2006. He is a member of the Astrophysics Subcommittee of the NASA Advisory Committee and of the Standing Review Board for the Kepler project. He lives in Maryland.

John Boslough received honors in the history of science from Princeton University and has written widely on science for National Geographic and other publications. His previous books include Stephen Hawking’s Universe and Masters of Time, co-authored by Wendy W. Cortesi. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

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Table of Contents


Illustrations xi Acknowledgments xiii Preface xvii Part I A Day Without Yesterday
1 Better Is the Enemy 3
2 Scooped 10
3 The Remains of the First Day 27
4 The Day the Universe Changed 39
5 The Ballooning Universe 50
6 Tuolumne Nights 63 Part II The Same, Only Different
7 The Law of Incidental Consequences 77
8 The New Aether Drift 88
9 Parallel Universes 103
10 Dueling Satellites 116
11 Mathematical Mythology 130 Part III First Light
12 Day One 149
13 The Directorate 167
14 Skunkworks 185
15 Lost in Space 202
16 The Private Life of the Cosmic Background Radiation 225
17 COBE's Final Report 246
18 Stockholm Calling 255 Epilogue 283 Appendix 295 Notes 313 A Brief COBE Glossary 327 Bibliography 331 Where Are They Now? 335 Index 339
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