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The Cosmic Century
A History of Astrophysics and Cosmology


  • Date Published: January 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107669369

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About the Authors
  • 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 storytellers.

    • An engaging, thematic history of the development of astrophysics and cosmology through the twentieth century and beyond by a leading physicist
    • Covers the whole swathe of subjects, from stars to galaxies and cosmology, highlighting the major contributions by individuals and research groups across the world
    • The paperback edition has been updated to include new material, such as the discovery of the Higgs boson
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Little of astrophysics and cosmology escapes the gaze of Longair … Readers, especially those already familiar with many of the topics, will enjoy his prose. Certainly all graduate students in the field should read this book. And anyone interested in the history of science would enjoy it as bedside reading if they were willing to skip the equations.' Jay M. Pasachoff, Nature

    'I can envisage this book being useful to physicists from other areas of specialization, who would like an overview of astrophysics and cosmology, or for workers in one of these areas who want to broaden their horizons. It could also be a text for graduate students in astronomy, astrophysics or astrophysical cosmology, who want a synoptic overview of these areas … the book … clearly separates speculation from well-established theory … a sound work that will be well appreciated.' George Ellis, Nature Physics

    'The astrophysical equivalent to Gombrich's Story of Art … Written with grace, clarity and formidable knowledge, this is simply a book that every serious student of astrophysics must have.' Astronomy Now

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107669369
    • length: 562 pages
    • dimensions: 246 x 175 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.93kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Stars and Stellar Evolution up to the Second World War:
    1. The legacy of the nineteenth century
    2. The classification of stellar spectra
    3. Stellar structure and evolution
    4. The end points of stellar evolution
    Part II. The Large-Scale Structure of the Universe, 1900–39:
    5. The Galaxy and the nature of spiral nebulae
    6. The origins of astrophysical cosmology
    Part III. The Opening up of the Electromagnetic Spectrum:
    7. The opening up of the electromagnetic spectrum and the new astronomies
    Part IV. The Astrophysics of Stars and Galaxies since 1945:
    8. Stars and stellar evolution
    9. The physics of the interstellar medium
    10. The physics of galaxies and clusters of galaxies
    11. High-energy astrophysics
    Part V. Astrophysical Cosmology since 1945:
    12. Astrophysical cosmology
    13. The determination of cosmological parameters
    14. The evolution of galaxies and active galaxies with cosmic epoch
    15. The origin of galaxies and the large-scale structure of the Universe
    16. The very early Universe
    Name index
    Object index
    Subject index.

  • Author

    Malcolm S. Longair, University of Cambridge
    Malcolm Longair is Emeritus Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy and Director of Development at the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge. He has held many highly distinguished positions within physics and astronomy and has served on and chaired many international committees, boards and panels, working with both NASA and the European Space Agency. He has received much recognition for his work, including the Pilkington Prize of the University of Cambridge for Excellence in Teaching and a CBE in the millennium honours list for his services to astronomy and cosmology. His previous well-received books for Cambridge University Press include Theoretical Concepts in Physics (2003), The Cosmic Century: A History of Astrophysics and Cosmology (2005) and High Energy Astrophysics (2011).

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