A Curious Journey Through Our Cosmic Family Tree
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In this enthralling cosmic journey through space and time, astrophysicist Jillian Scudder locates our home planet within its own ‘family tree’. Our parent the Earth and its sibling planets in our solar system formed within the same gas cloud.
Without our grandparent the Sun, we would not exist, and the Sun in turn relies on the Milky Way as its home. The Milky Way rests in a larger web of galaxies that traces its origins right back to tiny fluctuations in the very early universe. Following these cosmic connections, we discover the many ties that bind us to our universe.
Based around readers’ questions from the author’s popular blog ‘Astroquizzical’, the book provides a quirky guide to how things work in the universe and why things are the way they are, from shooting stars on Earth, to black holes, to entire galaxies. For anyone interested in the ‘big picture’ of how the cosmos functions and how it is all connected, Jillian Scudder is the perfect guide.
‘A wonderful jaunt through the universe at every scale, and a great way to fill in every gap in knowledge you have about astronomy.’
‘Astroquizzical from Dr Jillian Scudder is a superb astronomy book, written with a distinctive tone which is both pragmatic and poetic at the same time. It’s perfectly attuned to the kind of awestruck curiosity we feel whilst taking in the majesty of a clear, starlit night sky. This book intelligently decodes those profound astronomical topics without swamping us in confusion. It also explains the intriguing importance of many astro and space exploration matters we might have underestimated or never even considered before. Dr Scudder’s book brings the perfect blend of fact and fascination to help us feel a greater sense of our place within the clockwork of the universe. Astroquizzical is a most informative and highly engaging astronomy book.’
‘Scudder’s mission is to provide the lay reader with a thorough grounding in the basics of astronomical knowledge. … The writing is fluid and direct with the subject material brought vibrantly to life. … For astro novices this book … will bring a welcome depth to their appreciation of the night sky and the wonders it holds.’
‘genuinely entertaining … well-written … fascinating … quirky … an excellent balance of enthusiasm and facts … a good balance of illustrations … Scudder is particularly good at explaining how the stunning colour images are multi-layered black and white images from different coloured filters. This is the kind of book that would be excellent to get either a teenage reader or an adult with limited exposure to astronomy interested in the field. It reads well and gives basic details without being patronising. It’s a cosmic journey that I enjoyed.’
‘Scudder is an astrophysicist who studies star formation in very distant galaxies but takes time out to passionately engage in outreach, getting into schools and the community as often as she can. This, her first introductory book on astronomy, benefits from that outreach. … The narrative form that Scudder employs is an imaginary cosmic journey that begins on our home planet and takes us in seven steps to the furthest galaxies. This simple format has been tried countless times before by big-name astronomers. What’s different here is an intense level of engagement between writer and reader. Vivid storytelling explains the physics without equations. … Her aim is to get people to think issues through for themselves, and that works. The clarity of Scudder’s writing is impressive.’
‘[Jillian Scudder’s] excellent debut book is all about making complex concepts, if not exactly easy to understand, then at least a little easier to grasp. … In her enthralling cosmic journey through space and time, astrophysicist Jillian Scudder discusses our home planet’s place in the universe. … The result is a highly readable primer for a basic understanding of phenomena such as shooting stars, black holes, galaxies and the origins of the universe. Beyond the flawless presentation of known facts and current thinking, Scudder explores further by positing counterfactuals and thought experiments. … The real triumph of Scudder’s Astroquizzical is that it brings high-altitude, notionally abstract ideas to the general reader, presented in an entertaining and accessible way. For those more familiar with the universe it will also help to fill some of the knowledge gaps created by advancements in current thinking. In short, it should be required reading for every engineer and technologist.’