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Cosmic Discovery
The Search, Scope, and Heritage of Astronomy

£34.99

  • Date Published: March 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108722049

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About the Authors
  • Martin Harwit's influential book, Cosmic Discovery, is rereleased after more than thirty-five years, with a new preface written by the author. The work chronicles the astronomical discoveries up to the late twentieth century and draws conclusions that major discoveries have often been unexpected, unrelated to prevailing astronomical theories and made by outsiders from other fields. One trend alone seems to prevail: major discoveries follow major technological innovations in observational instruments. The author also examines discovery in terms of its political, financial, and sociological contexts, including the role of industry and the military in enabling new technologies, and methods of funding. The challenges encountered by astronomy in the 1980s are remarkably similar to those astronomers face today. Difficulties persist in controlling recurrent cost overruns on planned missions, and in confronting mounting costs in developing observatories for detecting gravitational waves, high-energy cosmic rays, and particles that might explain dark matter.

    • Summarizes the accelerating discovery of cosmic objects and phenomena from antiquity to the late twentieth century
    • Addresses fundamental questions astrophysicists were asking in the late 1970s, many of which remain unanswered today
    • Promotes the idea that astronomy will need to find new sponsors, sources of funding, and new international partners in order to succeed in the future
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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108722049
    • length: 370 pages
    • dimensions: 246 x 172 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.74kg
    • contains: 78 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Preface
    1. The search
    2. Discoveries
    3. Observation
    4. Detection, recognition, and classification of phenomena
    5. The fringes of legitimacy: the need for enlightened planning
    Appendices
    References
    Glossary
    Index.

  • Author

    Martin Harwit, Cornell University, New York
    Martin Harwit is Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at Cornell University, New York. For many years he also served as Director of the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. For much of his astrophysical career he built instruments and made pioneering observations in infrared astronomy. His advanced textbook, Astrophysical Concepts (1973), has taught several generations of astronomers through its four editions. Harwit has had an abiding interest in questions first raised in Cosmic Discovery on how science advances or is constrained by factors beyond the control of scientists. His subsequent book, In Search of the True Universe (Cambridge, 2014), explores how philosophical outlook, historical precedents, industrial progress, economic factors, and national priorities have affected our understanding of the Cosmos. Harwit is a recipient of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's highest honor, the Bruce Medal, which commends 'his original ideas, scholarship, and thoughtful advocacy'.

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