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Ripples in Spacetime : Einstein, Gravitational Waves, and the Future of Astronomy - Govert Schilling

Ripples in Spacetime

Einstein, Gravitational Waves, and the Future of Astronomy


Published: 31st July 2017
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RRP $59.99

It has already been called the scientific breakthrough of the century: the detection of gravitational waves. Einstein predicted these tiny ripples in the fabric of spacetime nearly a hundred years ago, but they were never perceived directly until now. Decades in the making, this momentous discovery has given scientists a new understanding of the cataclysmic events that shape the universe and a new confirmation of Einstein's theory of general relativity. Ripples in Spacetime is an engaging account of the international effort to complete Einstein's project, capture his elusive ripples, and launch an era of gravitational-wave astronomy that promises to explain, more vividly than ever before, our universe's structure and origin. The quest for gravitational waves involved years of risky research and many personal and professional struggles that threatened to derail one of the world's largest scientific endeavors. Govert Schilling takes readers to sites where these stories unfolded'including Japan's KAGRA detector, Chile's Atacama Cosmology Telescope, the South Pole's BICEP detectors, and the United States' LIGO labs. He explains the seeming impossibility of developing technologies sensitive enough to detect waves from two colliding black holes in the very distant universe, and describes the astounding precision of the LIGO detectors. Along the way Schilling clarifies concepts such as general relativity, neutron stars, and the big bang using language that readers with little scientific background can grasp. Ripples in Spacetime provides a window into the next frontiers of astronomy, weaving far-reaching predictions and discoveries into a gripping story of human ambition and perseverance.

I read with great pleasure this friendly book. The placement of the detection of gravitational waves in the greater history of astronomy and physics is nicely done, and readers not yet familiar with many of the concepts will come away from the book having really learned some of the physics as well as having a sense of what real science and real scientists are like. The scope and organization makes it entertaining and leaves room for surprises.--David Shoemaker, Spokesperson, LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Senior Research Scientist, MIT Kavli Institute In this elegant and captivating book Govert Schilling takes us by the hand through a century of scientific adventures to one of the biggest discoveries of history.--Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor, Institute for Advanced Study Schilling gives us a lively and readable account of the [gravitational] waves' discovery... Schilling underlines that this discovery is the opening of a new window on the universe, the beginning of a new branch of science. Astronomers will no longer be limited to observing space through the waves of electricity and magnetism (for example, visible light) entering telescopes, but will be able to observe it through waves of gravity. Galileo would have been amazed.--Graham Farmelo"The Guardian" (08/02/2017) Engaging.--Manjit Kumar"New Statesman" (08/19/2017) A detailed account of the quest to detect gravitational waves.--James Ryerson"New York Times Book Review" (08/20/2017) In September 2015, a new frontier in astronomy beckoned with the first direct detection of gravitational waves, confirming Albert Einstein's prediction almost a century before. Govert Schilling's deliciously nerdy grand tour takes us through compelling backstory, current research and future expectations.--Barbara Kiser"Nature" (07/13/2017) Govert's blend of storytelling, interviews, science, and history creates a fantastic read, and for anyone curious about the development of LIGO and what the future holds, you couldn't ask for a better story.--Ethan Siegel"Forbes" (12/13/2017) A succinct, accessible, and remarkably timely survey of gravitational-wave astronomy as it developed over the past century...This book is a rare find...The book's remarkable breadth and accessibility should make it the first piece of reading material for anyone--from high school students to policymakers--with an interest in gravitational waves...Ripples in Spacetime sets itself apart by putting the entire field into perspective--past, present, and future. It conveys a sense of awe about a century of scientific investment and achievement and a sense of excitement for what's to come.--Richard O'Shaughnessy"Physics Today" (12/01/2017) In a sweeping new book, Ripples in Spacetime: Einstein, Gravitational Waves, and the Future of Astronomy, prolific science writer Govert Schilling has achieved the fascinating trifecta of historical and scientific accuracy, a grand sense of wonder and curiosity, and brilliantly accessible storytelling...Ripples in Spacetime goes far beyond the gravitational wave story you've heard over the past few years...It belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in learning the scientific, historical, and personal stories behind some of the most incredible scientific advances of the 21st century. As our scientific progress continues, this book will serve as a reminder of how far we've already come, how we got there, and what we're looking forward to with our most hopeful ambitions.--Ethan Siegel"Forbes" (08/31/2017) [Ripples in Spacetime] explains complex ideas clearly and entertainingly...It details the personalities, rivalries, collaborations, controversies, setbacks and successes of the century-long quest to test Einstein's theories. Bang up to date, the book describes science in progress and as a process: how ideas are developed and discoveries made and rejected or confirmed. The best part for me was the detail the book goes into about the first detection and the meticulous protocols in place to scrutinize and eliminate every possible error. Schilling also looks ahead to what we can expect in this whole new field of astronomy. This is a book for everyone who was as excited as I was when the [Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory] discovery first broke, but also for anyone who wants to know what all the fuss was about.--Jenny Winder"BBC Sky at Night Magazine" (07/01/2017)

ISBN: 9780674971660
ISBN-10: 0674971663
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 340
Published: 31st July 2017
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.9 x 15.5  x 2.7
Weight (kg): 0.56
Edition Number: 1