La ragnatela cosmica
Author: J. Richard Gott
Publisher: Bollati Boringhieri
«La ragnatela cosmica non è solamente una storia ben raccontata sulle frontiere della conoscenza del cosmo. È anche uno stimolo per continuare a esplorarle». Michael Blanton, Nature «Con lo sguardo tipico di chi le cose le conosce dall’interno, Gott ci racconta come gli scienziati siano riusciti a rivelare la struttura macroscopica dell’Universo. Mescolando scienza, succosi aneddoti e storie personali, Gott ci offre una descrizione completa, vivace e affascinante della ragnatela cosmica che costituisce il nostro mondo». Publishers Weekly La Via Lattea ha circa 300 miliardi di stelle. Si fa già fatica a immaginare un numero così elevato, eppure da tempo sappiamo anche che la nostra non è che una delle innumerevoli galassie presenti nell’universo. Di fronte a numeri di questa impensabile enormità la mente vacilla, ma non è che l’inizio della storia di questo libro. J. Richard Gott è stato uno dei primi cosmologi a proporre un modello nel quale la struttura del nostro universo somiglia a una spugna, fatta da ammassi di galassie connessi tra loro attraverso filamenti di galassie, a formare una gigantesca “ragnatela cosmica” che si sviluppa attorno a immensi spazi vuoti. Negli anni questa ragnatela è stata effettivamente mappata e questo libro è il racconto di prima mano, da parte di un protagonista assoluto della vicenda, di come una generazione di teorici e di astronomi sia riuscita a svelare la struttura macroscopica del cosmo. I pionieri dell’astronomia extragalattica sono i protagonisti dell’inizio di questa storia affascinante: nomi del calibro di Edwin Hubble e Fritz Zwicky. La storia prosegue poi con un mondo diviso in due dalla Guerra Fredda, nel quale la scuola americana si era concentrata su un modello basato su una struttura ad ammassi isolati, mentre quella sovietica descriveva una struttura fatta a nido d’ape, con le galassie disposte geometricamente attorno a grandi spazi privi di materia. Il lavoro di Gott si inserì in questa contesa, grazie a un’idea che l’autore aveva già iniziato a elaborare durante il liceo. In seguito, Gott misurò assieme a Mario Jurić la Grande Muraglia Sloan, la più grande struttura di galassie mai mappata fino ad allora, coi suoi 1,37 miliardi di anni-luce di lunghezza (entrarono nel Guinness dei primati per questo). Mappando l’estremo confine dell’universo conosciuto, La ragnatela cosmica ci racconta i dettagli di questa affascinante ricerca e segna la via per una comprensione più accurata del cosmo che, grazie alla struttura di questa gigantesca ragnatela, ci appare sempre più chiara.
The Cosmic Web
Author: J. Richard Gott
Publisher: Princeton University Press
J. Richard Gott was among the first cosmologists to propose that the structure of our universe is like a sponge made up of clusters of galaxies intricately connected by filaments of galaxies—a magnificent structure now called the "cosmic web" and mapped extensively by teams of astronomers. Here is his gripping insider's account of how a generation of undaunted theorists and observers solved the mystery of the architecture of our cosmos. The Cosmic Web begins with modern pioneers of extragalactic astronomy, such as Edwin Hubble and Fritz Zwicky. It goes on to describe how, during the Cold War, the American school of cosmology favored a model of the universe where galaxies resided in isolated clusters, whereas the Soviet school favored a honeycomb pattern of galaxies punctuated by giant, isolated voids. Gott tells the stories of how his own path to a solution began with a high-school science project when he was eighteen, and how he and astronomer Mario Jurič measured the Sloan Great Wall of Galaxies, a filament of galaxies that, at 1.37 billion light-years in length, is one of the largest structures in the universe. Drawing on Gott’s own experiences working at the frontiers of science with many of today’s leading cosmologists, The Cosmic Web shows how ambitious telescope surveys such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey are transforming our understanding of the cosmos, and how the cosmic web holds vital clues to the origins of the universe and the next trillion years that lie ahead.
The epic story of the scientists through the ages who have sought answers to life’s biggest mystery: How did it begin? In this essential and illuminating history of Western science, Bill Mesler and H. James Cleaves II seek to answer the most crucial question in science: How did life begin? They trace the trials and triumphs of the iconoclastic scientists who have sought to solve the mystery, from Darwin’s theory of evolution to Crick and Watson’s unveiling of DNA. This fascinating exploration not only examines the origin-of-life question, but also interrogates the very nature of scientific discovery and objectivity.
Author: Jim Baggott
Publisher: Oxford University Press
What is life? Where do we come from and how did we evolve? What is the universe and how was it formed? What is the nature of the material world? How does it work? How and why do we think? What does it mean to be human? How do we know? There are many different versions of our creation story. This book tells the version according to modern science. It is a unique account, starting at the Big Bang and travelling right up to the emergence of humans as conscious intelligent beings, 13.8 billion years later. Chapter by chapter, it sets out the current state of scientific knowledge: the origins of space and time; energy, mass, and light; galaxies, stars, and our sun; the habitable earth, and complex life itself. Drawing together the physical and biological sciences, Baggott recounts what we currently know of our history, highlighting the questions science has yet to answer.
“An essential read for anyone interested in the stories of the animals in our home or on our plate.”—BBC Focus Without our domesticated plants and animals, human civilization as we know it would not exist. We would still be living at subsistence level as hunter-gatherers if not for domestication. It is no accident that the cradle of civilization—the Middle East—is where sheep, goats, pigs, cattle, and cats commenced their fatefully intimate association with humans. Before the agricultural revolution, there were perhaps 10 million humans on earth. Now there are more than 7 billion of us. Our domesticated species have also thrived, in stark contrast to their wild ancestors. In a human-constructed environment—or man-made world—it pays to be domesticated. Domestication is an evolutionary process first and foremost. What most distinguishes domesticated animals from their wild ancestors are genetic alterations resulting in tameness, the capacity to tolerate close human proximity. But selection for tameness often results in a host of seemingly unrelated by-products, including floppy ears, skeletal alterations, reduced aggression, increased sociality, and reduced brain size. It's a package deal known as the domestication syndrome. Elements of the domestication syndrome can be found in every domesticated species—not only cats, dogs, pigs, sheep, cattle, and horses but also more recent human creations, such as domesticated camels, reindeer, and laboratory rats. That domestication results in this suite of changes in such a wide variety of mammals is a fascinating evolutionary story, one that sheds much light on the evolutionary process in general. We humans, too, show signs of the domestication syndrome, which some believe was key to our evolutionary success. By this view, human evolution parallels the evolution of dogs from wolves, in particular. A natural storyteller, Richard C. Francis weaves history, archaeology, and anthropology to create a fascinating narrative while seamlessly integrating the most cutting-edge ideas in twenty-first-century biology, from genomics to evo-devo.
Alan Turing: The Enigma
Author: Andrew Hodges
Publisher: Princeton University Press
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER The official book behind the Academy Award-winning film The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley It is only a slight exaggeration to say that the British mathematician Alan Turing (1912-1954) saved the Allies from the Nazis, invented the computer and artificial intelligence, and anticipated gay liberation by decades--all before his suicide at age forty-one. This New York Times–bestselling biography of the founder of computer science, with a new preface by the author that addresses Turing's royal pardon in 2013, is the definitive account of an extraordinary mind and life. Capturing both the inner and outer drama of Turing’s life, Andrew Hodges tells how Turing’s revolutionary idea of 1936--the concept of a universal machine--laid the foundation for the modern computer and how Turing brought the idea to practical realization in 1945 with his electronic design. The book also tells how this work was directly related to Turing’s leading role in breaking the German Enigma ciphers during World War II, a scientific triumph that was critical to Allied victory in the Atlantic. At the same time, this is the tragic account of a man who, despite his wartime service, was eventually arrested, stripped of his security clearance, and forced to undergo a humiliating treatment program--all for trying to live honestly in a society that defined homosexuality as a crime. The inspiration for a major motion picture starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley, Alan Turing: The Enigma is a gripping story of mathematics, computers, cryptography, and homosexual persecution.
Alpha and Omega
Author: Charles Seife
Humankind has grappled for millennia with the fundamental questions of the origin and end of the universe--it was a focus of ancient religions and myths and of the inquiries of Aristotle, Galileo, Copernicus, Kepler, and Newton. Today we are at the brink of discoveries that should soon reveal the deepest secrets of the universe. Alpha and Omega is a dispatch from the front lines of the cosmological revolution that is being waged at observatories and laboratories around the world-in Europe, in America, and even in Antarctica--where scientists are actually peering into both the cradle of the universe and its grave. Scientists--including galaxy hunters and microwave eavesdroppers, gravity theorists and atom smashers, all of whom are on the trail of dark matter, dark energy, and the growing inhabitants of the particle zoo-now know how the universe will end and are on the brink of understanding its beginning. Their findings will be among the greatest triumphs of science, even towering above the deciphering of the human genome. This is the book you need to help understand the frequent front-page headlines heralding dramatic cosmological discoveries. It makes cutting-edge science both crystal clear and wonderfully exciting.
Looks at the plans and programs of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, as well as the challenges that lie ahead. By the author of Cuba: A New History. Original.
Fifty-four love letters portray the caring relationship between Albert Einstein and his first wife by showing how Maric acted as the genius's intellectual confidant during his isolated years at Princeton.
An exploration of the science behind the powers of popular comic superheroes and villains illustrates the physics principles underlying the supernatural abilities of such characters as Superman, Magneto, and Spider-Man.
The Number Mysteries
Author: Marcus du Sautoy
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Every time we download music, take a flight across the Atlantic or talk on our cell phones, we are relying on great mathematical inventions. In The Number Mysteries, one of our generation's foremost mathematicians Marcus du Sautoy offers a playful and accessible examination of numbers and how, despite efforts of the greatest minds, the most fundamental puzzles of nature remain unsolved. Du Sautoy tells about the quest to predict the future—from the flight of asteroids to an impending storm, from bending a ball like Beckham to forecasting population growth. He brings to life the beauty behind five mathematical puzzles that have contributed to our understanding of the world around us and have helped develop the technology to cope with it. With loads of games to play and puzzles to solve, this is a math book for everyone.
A Gift from Bob
Author: James Bowen
Bob Fever has swept the globe, with A Street Cat Named Bob vaulting its way to #7 on The New York Times bestseller list in its first week on sale. With rights sold to 27 countries around the globe and a top spot on the British bestseller list for more than a year, this book has been a smashing success around the world. As Street Cat Bob and James spend a cold and challenging December on the streets together, James once more draws strength and inspiration from his extraordinary cat—learning important lessons about the true meaning of Christmas along the way. From the day James rescued a street cat abandoned in the hallway of his sheltered accommodation, they began a friendship which has transformed both their lives and, through the bestselling books A Street Cat Named Bob and The World According to Bob, touched millions around the world. In this new story of their journey together, A Gift from Bob, James looks back at the last Christmas they spent scraping a living on the streets and how Bob helped him through one of his toughest times—providing strength, friendship and inspiration but also teaching him important lessons about the true meaning of Christmas along the way. Readers who fell in love with Dewey and Marley, as well as the hundreds of thousands of fans who read A Street Cat Named Bob and The World According to Bob, will be eager to read the next chapters in the life of James and Bob.
What warps when you're traveling at warp speed? What is the difference between a wormhole and a black hole? Are time loops really possible, and can I kill my grandmother before I am born? Anyone who has ever wondered “could this really happen?” will gain useful insights into the Star Trek universe (and, incidentally, the real world of physics) in this charming and accessible guide. Lawrence M. Krauss boldly goes where Star Trek has gone-and beyond. From Newton to Hawking, from Einstein to Feynman, from Kirk to Picard, Krauss leads readers on a voyage to the world of physics as we now know it and as it might one day be.
Author: Umberto Eco
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Bored with their work, three Milanese editors cook up "the Plan," a hoax that connects the medieval Knights Templar with other occult groups from ancient to modern times. This produces a map indicating the geographical point from which all the powers of the earth can be controlled—a point located in Paris, France, at Foucault’s Pendulum. But in a fateful turn the joke becomes all too real, and when occult groups, including Satanists, get wind of the Plan, they go so far as to kill one of the editors in their quest to gain control of the earth. Orchestrating these and other diverse characters into his multilayered semiotic adventure, Eco has created a superb cerebral entertainment.