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Malcolm Longair

The cosmic century

When teaching a subject, some people feel that it helps to move away from its historical development. However, if you want an overview of a subject, or you are interested in current research, then a view of the history is much more important. In The cosmic century : a history of astrophysics and cosmology Malcolm Longair provides such a viewpoint. The book is in five parts. It splits the subject into pre and post-World War II sections, and within each has a section dealing with each of astrophysics and cosmology. In the middle there is a chapter on the boost which came from the opening up of the electromagnetic spectrum - the development of radio, X-ray, infrared and other forms of astronomy.

Longair packs an lot of material into the 450 pages of the book, and the history continues up to 2006, and so I felt that it gives a fairly comprehensive overview of current research into cosmology and astrophysics, but without being too technical. There is a bit of maths in the text, but it isn't intrusive (many of the chapters have an appendix with a mathematical derivation of a significant result). Readers do need some prior knowledge of the subject but I would think most science undergraduates would have no problems following the book. Certainly if are thinking of doing research in these subjects, or if you want a substantial overview of the field then I would say that this book deserves a place on your bookshelf.

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Hardcover 565 pages  
ISBN: 0521474361
Salesrank: 2459542
Weight:2.69 lbs
Published: 2006 Cambridge University Press
Amazon price $66.87
Marketplace:New from $66.87:Used from $49.44
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 565 pages  
ISBN: 0521474361
Salesrank: 1778274
Weight:2.69 lbs
Published: 2006 Cambridge University Press
Amazon price £57.34
Marketplace:New from £46.68:Used from £32.00
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Hardcover 565 pages  
ISBN: 0521474361
Salesrank: 1763730
Weight:2.69 lbs
Published: 2006 Cambridge University Press
Amazon price CDN$ 87.07
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 83.77:Used from CDN$ 86.94
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Product Description
The twentieth-century witnessed the development of astrophysics and cosmology from subjects which scarcely existed to two of the most exciting and demanding areas of contemporary scientific inquiry. In this book Malcolm Longair reviews the historical development of the key areas of modern astrophysics, linking the strands together to show how they have led to the extraordinarily rich panorama of modern astrophysics and cosmology. While many of the great discoveries were derived from pioneering observations, the emphasis is upon the development of theoretical concepts and how they came to be accepted. These advances have led astrophysicists and cosmologists to ask some of the deepest questions about the nature of our Universe and have pushed astronomical observations to the very limit. This is a fantastic story, and one which would have defied the imaginations of even the greatest story-tellers.