A Grand and Bold Thing: An Extraordinary New Map of the Universe Ushering In A New Era of Discovery

A Grand and Bold Thing An Extraordinary New Map of the Universe Ushering In A New Era of Discovery LATE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY what had been a fevered pace of discovery in astronomy for many years had slowed The Hubble Space Telescope continued to produce an astonishing array of images but the

  • Title: A Grand and Bold Thing: An Extraordinary New Map of the Universe Ushering In A New Era of Discovery
  • Author: Ann Finkbeiner
  • ISBN: 9781416552161
  • Page: 325
  • Format: Hardcover
  • LATE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, what had been a fevered pace of discovery in astronomy for many years had slowed The Hubble Space Telescope continued to produce an astonishing array of images, but the study of the universe was still fractured into domains measuring the universe s expansion rate, the evolution of galaxies in the early universe, the life and death of stars,LATE IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, what had been a fevered pace of discovery in astronomy for many years had slowed The Hubble Space Telescope continued to produce an astonishing array of images, but the study of the universe was still fractured into domains measuring the universe s expansion rate, the evolution of galaxies in the early universe, the life and death of stars, the search for extrasolar planets, the quest to understand the nature of the elusive dark matter So little was understood, still, about so many of the most fundamental questions, foremost among them What was the overall structure of the universe Why had stars formed into galaxies, and galaxies into massive clusters What was needed, thought visionary astronomer Jim Gunn, recently awarded the National Medal of Science, was a massive survey of the sky, a kind of new map of the universe that would be so rich in detail and cover such a wide swath of space, be so grand and bold, that it would allow astronomers to see the big picture in a whole new way So was born the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, a remarkable undertaking bringing together hundreds of astronomers and launching a new era of supercharged astronomical discovery, an era of e science that has taken astronomy from the lonely mountaintop observatory to the touch of your fingertips Critically acclaimed science writer Ann Finkbeiner tells the inside story of the Sloan and how it is revolutionizing astronomy The Sloan stitched together images of deep space taken over the course of five years, providing a remarkably detailed, three dimensional map of a vast territory of the universe, all digitized and downloadable for easy searching on a personal computer, and available not only to professional astronomers but to the public as well Bringing together for the first time images of many millions of galaxies including the massive structure known as the Sloan Great Wall of galaxies, never seen before the Sloan is allowing astronomers and armchair enthusiasts alike to watch the universe grow up, providing so many discoveries at such a fast pace that, as one astronomer said, it s like drinking out of a fire hose They are watching galaxies forming and galaxies merging with other galaxies, seeing streams of stars swirling out from galaxies, and forming a new understanding of how the smooth soup of matter that emerged from the Big Bang evolved into the universe as we know it Ann Finkbeiner brings the excitement and the extraordinary potential of this new era of astronomy vividly to life and allows all readers to understand how they, too, can become part of the discovery process A Grand and Bold Thing is vital reading for all.

    433 Comment

    • Tim says:

      It warms my astronomer heart to see someone write a pop science book about the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Of course the Hubble Space Telescope is the media darling of the astronomy world with its exciting backstory and gorgeous, National Geographic-ready imagery. But in terms of data the SDSS has been the real transformative instrument over the past decade and it's nice to see it get some lovin'.However, as I was reading this book I kept asking myself -- where's the science? The book dedicates a [...]

    • Leilani says:

      This was a fantastic look at what it would be like to be an astronomer! I heard an interview with the author on a local NPR show - as an interviewee, she was a bit rambly & unfocused, to be honest. But her subject sounded fascinating! She covers the design and development of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and how it changed the way astronomy works. Instead of applying for a few nights a year on a government telescope, astronomers have access to a huge database of information. The planning beg [...]

    • Ryan says:

      A truly wonderful, in-depth account of the assembly of the Sloan telescope and it's program. Often, when we read about programs like these, they are often summarized in less than a paragraph in an astronomy textbook or perhaps, at best, a page in an astronomy magazine. If you are really interested in how telescopes and astronomers work, you should read this book. If you don't like any of these things and if you are not a detail oriented person, then it might be in your best interest to go read a [...]

    • Kerry says:

      How often do we hear/read true stories about people who do something because it's the Right Thing To Do? This is the story of the hardware, software, and people that comprise the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, an attempt to map the characteristics of the universe.Many of the scientists in this book knew from an early age that they were interested in astronomy, and they acted on that conviction. Several of them worked on the project for free; others sacrificed academic opportunities. The project resul [...]

    • Clint says:

      Didn't love it. Didn't hate it. I like telescopes and enjoy using my telescope, but reading a whole book about a telescope (even for a really big one) was a little harder than I thought. If you are interested in the topic you will probably like it. It just didn't click for me.

    • Mary says:

      This is the story of a vision and its pursuit, of imagination, craftsmanship and passion, of men, women and machines, of tools and plans and overcoming defeats. Was it possible to take a census of the universe, its galaxies and its stars, collecting as detailed information as possible. Was it then possible to collect all that information into a data base that would be open to all astronomers! Beyond belief at first, then underway – the Sloan Digital Sky Survey - has changed the way many astron [...]

    • Richp says:

      This is a book about doing science. In this case, big science, which meant the protagonist left behind doing science as a primary profession and became a project manager of a new instrument, so others could do the science. James Gunn "gave up" what he figured were the last real productive years of his professional career to invest in this project. Along the way, he learned that engineering project management was far from easy. I was impressed with this story.

    • Cynthia Karl says:

      A very interesting account written for non-astronomers about the Sloan Digital Sky Survey project. The collaboration of people and institutions almost broke down more than once but ultimately succeeded spectacularly and changed astronomy. It also enabled several successful offshoots one of which is the "Galaxy Zoo".

    • Pam says:

      The project management side of this book it quite interesting, especially in the early stages of the project. The vision and accomplishment of the team is quite incredible, it made me look at the stars and galaxy in a new way,checking out the SDSS site right now.

    • Rrlgrrl says:

      A nice history of the early days of SDSS. I liked the dramatic flair added to some of the problems encountered with getting this survey off the ground. A fun read for me since it is more personal for me.

    • Catherine says:

      Author does a good job of explaining the science, though I still got a little lost now and again. Interesting story of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey - how it came to be and how it has changed astronomy and astronomers, how it has opened up the field to amateur astronomers and enthusiasts.

    • Donna says:

      Interesting book that covers the development of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. I didn't really know anything about this so it was great to learn about something so important that has really changed the way astronomy is done. Not too technical--non-science readers could definitely enjoy it.

    • Jon says:

      This was a great history of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and all of its trials and triumphs. The best parts where about the building of the Jim Gunn designed telescope at the heart of the project. An amazing amount of work done in the name of the pure science of astronomy.

    • Mara says:

      Interesting for the outsiders, funny for the insiders. For the insiders, reading about your colleagues as characters of a book is enjoyable, because *you know* the meaning of the description!

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