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John Barrow

Cosmic Imagery

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. In Cosmic Imagery: Key Images in the History of Science John Barrow describes some of the science behind 89 iconic pictures.

The book is in four sections. The first, 'Stars in Your Eyes' is based on Barrow's own subject of cosmology, and includes the COBE microwave spectrum and Supernova 1987A. The second section 'Spatial Prejudice' deals with a variety of subjects - space travel, maps and microscopic imagery. The third section 'Painting by Numbers' looks at mathematical images - powerful computers have led to plenty of these, for instance the Mandelbrot set, but the book also looks at more traditional mathematics such as the Platonic solids. 'Mind over Matter' is the final section, and includes pictures from physics and chemistry, such as Feynman diagrams and the periodic table.

The book is written in a non-technical way, and the chapters are short and easy to read. Sometimes it helps to have a bit of a background in the subject but it isn't vital. It's very much a 'coffee table book' but it's a very good one, which you or your children will enjoy browsing, and may be inspired to follow up on one of the topics using the extensive notes at the end.

(Note: the hardback is a bit too heavy to hold comfortably so you might want to consider waiting for the paperback instead) info
Hardcover 608 pages  
ISBN: 0224075233
Salesrank: 689868
Weight:4.14 lbs
Published: 2008 Bodley Head
Amazon price £24.29
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Product Description

A remarkable book tracing the history and influence of nearly two hundred iconic images that changed human conceptions of the universe and our place in it.

We live in a visual age, an age of images―iconic, instant, and influential―that have crystallized our conception of the large, the small, and the complex, of both inner and outer space. Some, like Robert Hooke's first microscopic views of the natural world, arose because of new technical capabilities. Others, like the first graphs, were breathtakingly simple but perennially useful. The first stunning picture of Earth from space stimulated an environmental consciousness that has grown ever since; the mushroom clouds from atomic and nuclear explosions became the ultimate symbol of death and destruction; Mercator's flat map of the Earth cemented an entire worldview. John D. Barrow's collection encompasses the frontiers of modern science and its most memorable historic moments. But this is much more than a picture book. Entertaining and informative essays accompany the powerful display of images that have illuminated concepts of far-reaching significance.Full color throughout; 190 illustrations