Have you ever wondered what happened before the Big Bang, or how we would colonize Mars, or what an alien invasion might really be like? Astronomer Bob Berman has, and in Cosmic Adventure, a collection of twenty-six profound to outrageous essays, he takes readers on a mind-bending tour of the universe, including our own planet Earth. From the most extraordinary cosmic phenomena to the basics of the natural world, Berman challenges us to look at the facts, discoveries, concepts, and awesome wonders of our cosmos in a new light. Written in entertaining, jargon-free language that even a novice stargazer will understand, Cosmic Adventure is a fun-filled, thought-provoking exploration of the secrets beyond the night sky.
Bob Berman takes you on a stellar journey in this collection of twenty-five essays that display a lively mix of science, astounding facts, personal anecdotes, and sheer playfulness. Complex, mind-stretching scientific topics become understandable in human terms as Berman links astronomy to our lives. He explores strange new mysteries raised by recent discoveries, and covers areas that haven't been discussed anywhere else before. From the "night terrors" that have haunted humankind since time immemorial to the penniless eccentric who sleeps inside the revolutionary telescope he designed, Berman's scope ranges far and wide.
Cosmic Adventure explains aspects of the physical world that have often piqued our curiosity. Who gets to name the stars? What would an alien invasion really be like? What's the inside story behind space program disasters? Why was the early Hubble goof avoidable? What's the only original idea in recent science? Why does time probably not exist at all?
A breezy miscellany of essays, this stimulating second book from Berman (Secrets of the Night Sky), astronomy columnist for Discover magazine, is a compendium of little-known facts, controversies, unexplained phenomena and unorthodox theories. With the aid of numerous illustrations and diagrams, Berman helps readers conceptualize what it might be like to travel to the outer edges of our finite but unbounded universe--or to leap into a metauniverse made up of trillions of previously undetected lesser universes. Mystery, he shows, is everywhere: scientists are still trying to explain the full moon's brilliance, or why the sunspot cycle stopped dead in its tracks between the years 1640 and 1715, or why the Hubble Space Telescope indicates that the universe is only 11 to 14 billion years old, while many stars seem older. Many of the pieces feel like quick, topical magazine columns: Berman's scenario for an alien invasion of Earth, for instance, or his survey of awesome astronomical spectacles such as eclipses and meteor storms. Still, the author, director of the Overlook Observatory in Woodstock, N.Y., is a first-rate popularizer, as when he explicates the celestial and atmospheric phenomena that passengers can glimpse outside their jet-plane window, and the mounting evidence that immense black holes may not simply be collapsed stars but are "dark matter" equal in weight to millions of suns. Since life on Earth is scheduled for total extinction in just 1.1 billion years, when our steadily warming sun will eventually cook all life, there is still time to read Berman's free-wheeling cosmic tour, which will open perspectives for the astronomically clueless as well as for seasoned stargazers.