Astronomers' Universe

The Amazing Unity of the Universe

And Its Origin in the Big Bang

Authors: van den Heuvel, Edward

  • Discusses the ways in which the laws of physics, which are valid throughout the Universe, find their origin in the Big Bang
  • Gives new historical details of 1917 predictions and the subsequent discovery that the Universe is expanding
  • Emphasizes the close interconnection between the Universe and the evolution of life on Earth throughout the book
  • Presents how Earth is placed in space and time in a novel way 
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Buy this book

eBook $24.99
price for USA (gross)
valid through November 5, 2017
  • ISBN 978-3-319-23543-1
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $34.99
price for USA
valid through November 5, 2017
  • ISBN 978-3-319-23542-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

In the first chapters the author describes how our knowledge of the position of Earth in space and time has developed, thanks to the work of many generations of astronomers and physicists. He discusses how our position in the Galaxy was discovered, and how in 1929, Hubble uncovered the fact that the Universe is expanding, leading to the picture of the Big Bang. He then explains how astronomers have found that the laws of physics that were discovered here on Earth and in the Solar System (the laws of mechanics, gravity, atomic physics, electromagnetism, etc.) are valid throughout the Universe. This is illustrated by the fact that all matter in the Universe consists of atoms of the same chemical elements that we know on Earth. This unity is all the more surprising when one realizes that in the original Big Bang theory, different parts of the Universe could never have communicated with each other. It then is a mystery how they could have shared the same physical laws. This problem was solved by the introduction of the idea of inflation, a phase of extremely rapid expansion of the Universe during the first fraction of a second following the Big Bang. The author explains how the unity of the Universe finds its origin in the Big Bang prior to inflation. The book addresses the many fundamental questions about the Universe and its contents from the perspective of the Big Bang: the formation of structure in the Universe, the questions of the mysterious dark matter and dark energy, the possibilities of other Universes (the Multiverse) and of the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe.

About the authors

Edward van den Heuvel received his Ph.D.in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of Utrecht in 1968. He worked at the University of California, Santa Cruz from 1968 to 1969, at the University of Utrecht from 1969 to 1974, and at the University of Brussels from 1970 to 1980. Since 1974 he has been Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Amsterdam and until 2005, Director of the Astronomical Institute there. He has been awarded the Physica Prize (the highest prize of the Netherlands Physical Society NNV), the Spinoza Prize (the highest science prize of the Netherlands) and the Descartes Prize (the highest science prize of the European Commission). Professor van den Heuvel was a Board Member and Chair of the Netherlands Space Research Organization, Chair of the Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy, a Board Member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences, and the Founding Chair of the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy. Professor van den Heuvel’s fields of expertise include stellar evolution, the physics of neutron stars and black holes, X-ray astronomy and radio pulsars.  

Reviews

  
“One cannot wish for a better guide for a tour through the universe than this comprehensive account of modern astrophysics and cosmology by one of its masters. This engaging and highly informative book weaves cutting-edge research, basic scientific principles and historical developments into a vast fabric that dazzles the reader.” (Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, Leon Levy Professor of Theoretical Physics)

“This clear, conversational account of the universe has it all. One of our leading astrophysicists paints a glowing picture of our extra-ordinary world – from planets to the cosmos –and engagingly recounts the tale of how we have decoded the signals arriving at our telescopes from outer space with the aid of laboratories, computers and our native wit.” (Jeremiah P. Ostriker, Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics, Columbia University, New York)

“Edward van den Heuvel is one of the leading astrophysicists of his generation. He covers everything -- from planets to the big bang -- with authority and balance. He sets the latest discoveries in a historical context and explains the physics that underlies them. Anyone wanting a clear and accessible account of all we've learnt about the cosmos should read this clearly written and beautifully produced book.” (Martin Rees, Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, University of Cambridge, UK, Astronomer Royal)

“I read this exciting book with great pleasure. Ed van den Heuvel is one of the world’s most recognized scientists and a great expert in the field of the theory of evolution of binary stars and high energy astrophysics. However, I have never seen him from the perspective as writer of a popular book so broad in topics from cosmology to the origin of intelligent life (a topic which is becoming so interesting now that astronomers have discovered dozens of habitable planets in distant stellar systems). However, he succeeded. It is very impressive how well the author uses the key laws of physics to explain the evolution and properties of our Universe, how gently he demonstrates the role of theoretical prediction in the development of modern astronomy and cosmology, in addition to the great progress in the development of new extremely sensitive astronomical spacecrafts, telescopes and detectors.” (Rashid Sunyaev, Scientific Director, Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Garching, Germany)

Table of contents (18 chapters)

  • Our Strange Universe

    van den Heuvel, Edward

    Pages 1-4

  • The Sun’s Backyard: Our Solar System

    van den Heuvel, Edward

    Pages 5-29

  • How Distant Are the Stars?

    van den Heuvel, Edward

    Pages 31-45

  • The Discovery of the Structure of Our Milky Way Galaxy

    van den Heuvel, Edward

    Pages 47-65

  • The Chemical Composition of the Sun and Stars

    van den Heuvel, Edward

    Pages 67-77

Buy this book

eBook $24.99
price for USA (gross)
valid through November 5, 2017
  • ISBN 978-3-319-23543-1
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $34.99
price for USA
valid through November 5, 2017
  • ISBN 978-3-319-23542-4
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
The Amazing Unity of the Universe
Book Subtitle
And Its Origin in the Big Bang
Authors
Series Title
Astronomers' Universe
Copyright
2016
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Copyright Holder
Springer International Publishing Switzerland
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-23543-1
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-23543-1
Softcover ISBN
978-3-319-23542-4
Series ISSN
1614-659X
Edition Number
2
Number of Pages
X, 315
Number of Illustrations and Tables
38 b/w illustrations, 172 illustrations in colour
Additional Information
Original Dutch edition published by Veen Media, Amsterdam, 2012
Topics