Apollo's Fire: A Journey Through the Extraordinary Wonders of an Ordinary Day

Apollo's Fire: A Journey Through the Extraordinary Wonders of an Ordinary Day

by Michael Sims

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Overview

It's the oldest story on Earth. You relive it every day.

So much of our shared daily experience in the world is shaped by the sometimes dramatic, sometimes subtle effects of the Earth's spin, its tilt on its axis, the alternation of light and darkness, the waxing and waning of the moon, the seemingly capricious growth of clouds. The ancient rhythm of the day and night was shaping life on Earth before there were even human beings to appreciate it. It rules our bodies and weather and calendars, and sets the tempo for our work and play. Each of us awakens each day to relive this primordial narrative.

With his signature blend of science and poetry, history and mythology, Michael Sims serves as tour guide on an unforgettable journey through the wonders of an ordinary day, from dawn to nighttime. Long before we had the tools of knowledge to explain what we observed in the skies overhead, we built mythologies and folklore around these occurrences, immortalized them in poetry and art, created special places for them in our collective imagination and even our language. In Apollo's Fire, Sims explores the celestial events that form our days, fusing lively explanations of these phenomena with a richly layered history of what they meant to us before we knew how they worked. He explains the colors of sunrise, the characteristics of shadow, the mysteries of twilight. Characters in this vital drama include Galileo watching sunrise on the moon, Eratosthenes measuring the Earth with a noontime shadow, and Edgar Allan Poe figuring out why the night sky is dark instead of glowing with the light of a million suns. Our story ranges from the movie High Noon to Darwin's plant experiments, from The Time Machine to the afternoon rise in air pollution.In the witty and elegant style that has earned him the designation ?science raconteur,? Sims weaves a dazzling array of strands into a single tapestry of daily experience- and makes the oldest story on Earth new again.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440654381
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/25/2008
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 916,771
File size: 303 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Michael Sims is the author most recently of In the Womb: Animals (adapted from two National Geographic Channel documentaries); he is also the author of Apollo's Fire: A Journey through the Extraordinary Wonders of an Ordinary Day, which NPR chose as one of the best science books of 2007; Adam's Navel: A Natural and Cultural History of the Human Form, which was a New York Times Notable Book and a Library Journal Best Science Book; and Darwin's Orchestra: An Almanac of Nature in History and the Arts. For Penguin Classics he also edited The Annotated Archy and Mehitabel and Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Thief, and he is currently editing The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime. He has written for many periodicals, from the Washington Post to New Statesman.

What People are Saying About This

Deborah Blum

[Sims is] a lovely writer, a genuinely poetic writer. He does a great job of saying that what science teaches us about the sun influences everything, from the way we write poetry to the way we track our days, and what culture tells us that we should think about the sun again reflects on science; let's look at science in the context of how we live. (Deborah Blum, on NPR's SCIENCE FRIDAY, “Best Science Books of the Year”)

Ross King

With the brain of a scientist and the voice of a poet, Michael Sims makes the commonplace become truly miraculous. After this voyage through a day's worth of scientific marvels and cultural curiosities, I'll never look at shadows, stars, sunsets - or even airplane contrails - the same way again. (Ross King, author of Brunelleschi's Dome)

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