The Astronomy Revolution
400 Years of Exploring the Cosmos
Edited by Donald G. York, Owen Gingerich, Shuang-Nan Zhang
CRC Press – 2012 – 450 pages
Some 400 years after the first known patent application for a telescope by Hans Lipperhey, The Astronomy Revolution: 400 Years of Exploring the Cosmos surveys the effects of this instrument and explores the questions that have arisen out of scientific research in astronomy and cosmology. Inspired by the international New Vision 400 conference held in Beijing in October 2008, this interdisciplinary volume brings together expanded and updated contributions from 26 esteemed conference speakers and invited others. Looking beyond questions of science to the role of moral responsibility in human civilizations, the book offers the unique vantage points of contributions from both Eastern and Western cultures.
Extensively illustrated in full color, this book consists of six parts. Aimed at young scientists, the first part presents perspectives on creativity and technology in scientific discovery. In the second part, contributors examine how the telescope has impacted our knowledge of the Universe—from the formation of galaxies to the death of stars. The third part of the book outlines some of the challenges we face in understanding dark matter, dark energy, black holes, and cosmic rays, and the fourth part discusses new technologies that will be useful in attacking new and unresolved questions. The fifth part of the book examines the intellectual impact that the telescope has had on society in China and in the West.
The book concludes with an investigation of "big questions": What is the origin of the laws of physics as we know them? Are these laws the same everywhere? How do these scientific laws relate to the moral laws of society? Does what we know depend on cultural ways of asking the questions? Is there life elsewhere? And what about the questions that science cannot answer? Celebrating the historical significance of the telescope, this unique book seeks to inspire all those involved or interested in the enterprise of astronomy as humankind continues the quest to unveil the heavens.
"… an excellent summary of the frontiers of astronomy and astrophysics, and will surely be required reading for graduate students. Especially good examples are the chapters on supernovae by Alexei Filippenko, and on dark energy by Mark Sullivan. Each chapter is characterized by its comprehensiveness and elegance of presentation. The final part of the volume explores the relationship between astronomy and society in general … Readers will find this venture into metaphysics and ontology in this section both challenging and rewarding. Highly recommended."
—D.E. Hogg, Emeritus, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, CHOICE, May 2012
Introduction: The New Vision 400 Project
Creativity and Technology in Astronomical Discovery
From the Language of Heaven to the Rationale of Matter; Tsung-Dao Lee
The Impact of Modern Telescope Development on Astronomy; Riccardo Giacconi
Searching for Other Earths and Life in the Universe; Geoffrey W. Marcy
Impact of Telescopes on Our Knowledge of the Universe
The Formation and Evolution of Galaxies; Ben Moore
Structure Formation in the Universe: From the Dark Side to First Light; Naoki Yoshida
An Overview of Supernovae, the Explosive Deaths of Stars; Alexei V. Filippenko
The Dark Secrets of Gaseous Nebulae: Highlights from Deep Spectroscopy; Xiao-Wei Liu
Some Near-Term Challenges in Astronomy
Can We Detect Dark Matter? Elliott D. Bloom
Can We Understand Dark Energy? Mark Sullivan
Astrophysical Black Holes in the Physical Universe; Shuang-Nan Zhang
Ultrahigh Energy Cosmic Rays; Glennys R. Farrar
Technologies for Future Questions
New Technologies for Radio Astronomy; K. Y. Lo and Alan H. Bridle
Advanced Optical Techniques in Astronomy; Michael Shao
Scientific Opportunities for 30-Meter-Class Optical Telescopes; Richard S. Ellis
Intellectual Impact of the Telescope on Society
The Impact of Astronomy on Chinese Society in the Days before Telescopes; Yi-Long Huang
The Impact of the Telescope in the West, 1608–1802; Owen Gingerich
The Impact of the Telescope on Astronomy and Society in China; Xiao-Chun Sun
"Big Questions" Raised by New Knowledge
Exoplanet Atmospheres and the Search for Biosignatures; Sara Seager
What New Telescopes Can Tell Us about "Other Worlds"; Charles A. Beichman
Multiverse Cosmology; Paul C. W. Davies
Universe or Multiverse? Renata Kallosh and Andrei Linde
Cosmos and Humanity in Traditional Chinese Thought; Yung Sik Kim
Laws of Nature, Moral Order, and the Intelligibility of the Cosmos; Peter Harrison
Why Are the Laws of Nature as They Are? What Underlies Their Existence? George F. R. Ellis
Appendix: The New Vision 400 Conference
To see video presentations from the New Vision 400 conference celebrating the 400th anniversary of the invention of the telescope, see the New Vision 400 web site.
Donald G. York, Chief Editor, is Horace B. Horton Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at The University of Chicago. He was the founding director of the Apache Point Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico, and of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, one of the most ambitious collaborative projects ever undertaken by astronomers. He is also the founder and co-director of the Chicago Public Schools/University of Chicago Internet Project, a neighborhood schools technology initiative.
Owen Gingerich, Co-Editor, is Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and of the History of Science at Harvard University and a senior astronomer emeritus at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics). He is co-author of two successive standard models for the solar atmosphere and is a leading authority on the 17th-century astronomer Johannes Kepler and the 16th-century cosmologist Nicolaus Copernicus. A world traveler, he has successfully observed 14 total solar eclipses.
Shuang-Nan Zhang, Co-Editor, is Professor and Director of Key Laboratory of and Center for Particle Astrophysics in the Institute of High Energy Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as well as Research Professor of Physics at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He is also the chief scientist of the Space Science Division of the National Astronomical Observatories of China and heads the X-ray Imaging Laboratory, which is leading several space x-ray astronomy missions in China, as well as the space astronomy program onboard China's Spacelab and Space Station.