The Day We Found the Universe

The Day We Found the Universe

Book - 2009
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Random House, Inc.
On January 1, 1925, thirty-five-year-old Edwin Hubble announced the observation that ultimately established that our universe was a thousand trillion times larger than previously believed, filled with myriad galaxies like our own. This discovery dramatically reshaped how humans understood their place in the cosmos, and once and for all laid to rest the idea that the Milky Way galaxy was alone in the universe. Six years later, continuing research by Hubble and others forced Albert Einstein to renounce his own cosmic model and finally accept the astonishing fact that the universe was not immobile but instead expanding.

The fascinating story of these interwoven discoveries includes battles of will, clever insights, and wrong turns made by the early investigators in this great twentieth-century pursuit. It is a story of science in the making that shows how these discoveries were not the work of a lone genius but the combined efforts of many talented scientists and researchers toiling away behind the scenes. The intriguing characters include Henrietta Leavitt, who discovered the means to measure the vast dimensions of the cosmos . . . Vesto Slipher, the first and unheralded discoverer of the universe’s expansion . . . Georges Lemaître, the Jesuit priest who correctly interpreted Einstein’s theories in relation to the universe . . . Milton Humason, who, with only an eighth-grade education, became a world-renowned expert on galaxy motions . . . and Harlow Shapley, Hubble’s nemesis, whose flawed vision of the universe delayed the discovery of its true nature and startling size for more than a decade.

Here is a watershed moment in the history of astronomy, brought about by the exceptional combination of human curiosity, intelligence, and enterprise, and vividly told by acclaimed science writer Marcia Bartusiak.

Baker & Taylor
Looks at the discovery of the true nature and immense size of the universe, tracing the decades of work done by a select group of scientists to make it possible.

Book News
Bartusiak teaches at MIT, is the award-winning author of several books, and has contributed to numerous publications including National Geographic, Smithsonian, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. In her latest text she presents an account of the discovery of the modern universe in the early-20th century. The story details the contributions made by not only Edwin Hubble but also the many talented and scientists working behind the scenes, including Henrietta Leavitt, Vesto Slipher, Georges Lemâitre, Milton Humason, and Harlow Shapley. Illustrated with b&w photographs. Academic but accessible to general readers. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, 2009
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780375424298
Branch Call Number: 520.9 BAR
Characteristics: xviii, 337 p. : ill. ; 25 cm


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Nov 28, 2014

Bartusiak has a way of making the lives of the scientists sound interesting. Triumphs, little rivalries, sometimes even loathing. True - it is mostly about the lives of the scientists. But for young people contemplating a career as an astronomer, it is quite revealing. How scientists collaborate, how they compete, how luck plays a big part, demands of family etc. Of course, Einstein and Hubble stand out as giants but there were many other scientists who made important contributions and/or just missed their chance for fame by a whisker. Bartusiak is a very good science writer.

Dec 24, 2010

This book is mostly about astronomers, with only basic information about their discoveries.


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