"Mapping the Heavens" by Priyamvada Natarajan

Mapping the Heavens The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos Priyamvada Natarajan

Publication date:
08 Jul 2017
Yale University Press
288 pages: 235mm
14 color + 33 b-w illus.

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For all curious readers, a lively introduction to radical ideas and discoveries that are transforming our knowledge of the universe

This book provides a tour of the “greatest hits” of cosmological discoveries—the ideas that reshaped our universe over the past century. The cosmos, once understood as a stagnant place, filled with the ordinary, is now a universe that is expanding at an accelerating pace, propelled by dark energy and structured by dark matter. Priyamvada Natarajan, our guide to these ideas, is someone at the forefront of the research—an astrophysicist who literally creates maps of invisible matter in the universe. She not only explains for a wide audience the science behind these essential ideas but also provides an understanding of how radical scientific theories gain acceptance.

The formation and growth of black holes, dark matter halos, the accelerating expansion of the universe, the echo of the big bang, the discovery of exoplanets, and the possibility of other universes—these are some of the puzzling cosmological topics of the early twenty-first century. Natarajan discusses why the acceptance of new ideas about the universe and our place in it has never been linear and always contested even within the scientific community. And she affirms that, shifting and incomplete as science always must be, it offers the best path we have toward making sense of our wondrous, mysterious universe.

Priyamvada Natarajan is professor of astronomy and physics at Yale University and holds the Sophie and Tycho Brahe Professorship at the Dark Center, Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, and an honorary professorship at the University of Delhi, India.

“Priyamvada Natarajan is a professor of physics and astronomy at Yale, who has spent her life investigating dark matter, dark energy and black holes. In Mapping the Heavens, she stands back and presents a broad picture of our slow advance in measuring and then interpreting the complexity of the universe…  Considering humanity in relation to the universe, Natarajan explains that we have very little idea of where we are going. She asks us to adapt Galileo’s perspective – he was the first to prove that the Moon was mountainous, and to measure the mountain heights, but was certainly incapable of predicting that a mere 360 years later we would walk on its surface or return home with suitcases of lunar material.”—David W. Hughes, TLS