lamdha books -
Catalogue of books on science and mathematics

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96748
Adams, Fred, & Greg Laughlin
The Five Ages of the Universe Inside the Physics of Eternity
The Free Press/Simon & Schuster Inc., New York NY, 1999.
Octavo; hardcover, quarter-bound in papered boards with gilt spine-titling; 251pp., with diagrams and monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; text block to edge lightly spotted; some dog-eared pages. Dustwrapper. Very good to near fine. As the twentieth century closed, Fred Adams and Greg Laughlin captured the attention of the world by identifying the five ages of time. In The Five Ages of the Universe, Adams and Laughlin demonstrate that we can now understand the complete life story of the cosmos from beginning to end. Adams and Laughlin have been hailed as the creators of the definitive long-term projection of the evolution of the universe. Their achievement is awesome in its scale and profound in its scientific breadth. But The Five Ages of the Universe is more than a handbook of the physical processes that guided our past and will shape our future; it is a truly epic story. Without leaving earth, here is a fantastic voyage to the physics of eternity. It is the only biography of the universe you will ever need
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$25
37473
[Albert Einstein] Isaacson, Walter
Einstein His Life and Universe
Simon & Schuster Inc., New York NY, 2007.
Octavo; hardcover, quarter-bound in papered boards with gilt spine-titling and illustrated endpapers; 680pp., untrimmed, with many monochrome illustrations. Minor wear. Near fine in like dustwrapper. "In 2005, astronomers and cosmologists celebrated - in style - the 100th anniversary of their annus mirabilis: 1905. This was the year in which Albert Einstein wrote a set of scientific papers - including one containing the equation E=mc2 that changed our understanding of the universe - and which became the cornerstones of quantum mechanics and general relativity: the twin intellectual pinnacles of the 20th century... According to Isaacson, we should regard Einstein not as an august scientific priest, but 'as a rebel with reverence for the harmony of nature', a scientist who rated imagination far higher than knowledge and an individual whose motto, at least in his early years, was 'Long live impudence! It is my guardian angel.' Having displayed 'a sassy attitude' at the Zurich Polytechnic, where he studied physics, Einstein was his year's only graduate not to be offered a job. He was even rejected by the Swiss army for having flat feet and varicose veins. In the end, he made do with the Swiss patent office. And a good thing too, says Isaacson. Einstein did his day's work in a couple of hours and then sat back in his 'worldly cloister'...in order to create some of the most beautiful, challenging ideas of modern science. 'Physics was to be upended, and Einstein was poised to be the one to do it,' says Isaacson. It's one of the greatest stories of modern science and a riveting read." - Robin McKie
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$30
96837
Bryson, Bill
A Short History of Nearly Everything Illustrated
Doubleday/Transworld Publishing/Random House (Aust.) Pty. Ltd., Milsons Point NSW, 2005.
First edition thus: quarto; hardcover, with gilt spine titling and decorated endpapers; 624pp., with many full-colour and monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; previous owner's ink inscription to the half-title page. Dustwrapper rubbed and edgeworn. Very good to near fine. In Bryson's biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand - and, if possible, answer - the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world's most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. "A Short History of Nearly Everything" is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.
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$35
42482
[Charles Darwin] Nicholas, F.W. & J.M.
Charles Darwin in Australia - signed copy With illustrations and additional commentary from other members of the "Beagle's" company including Conrad Martens, Augustus Earle, Captain FitzRoy, Philip Gidley King, and Syms Covington
Cambridge University Press, Sydney NSW, 1989.
Quarto; hardcover, with gilt spine-titling and endpaper maps; 175pp., with a colour portrait frontispiece and many full-colour and monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; text block top edge dusted; signed by the authors in ink to the title page. Dustwrapper lightly spotted on the verso; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good. Based on a new transcription of the entire Australian section of Darwin's diary supplemented by extracts from the notebook he carried on a trip to Bathurst. The trip is covered thus in detail. His observations concern not only the flora and fauna but also the society of the day.
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$90
215228
Collins, Harry
Gravity's Kiss The Detection of Gravity Waves
Massachusetts Institute of Technology/The MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 2017.
Octavo; hardcover, with gilt spine titles; 408pp., with diagrams and monochrome illustrations. Dustwrapper. Remainder. New. Scientists have been trying to confirm the existence of gravitational waves for fifty years. Then, in September 2015, came a "very interesting event" (as the cautious subject line in a physicist's email read) that proved to be the first detection of gravitational waves. In "Gravity's Kiss", Harry Collins - who has been watching the science of gravitational wave detection for forty-three of those fifty years and has written three previous books about it - offers a final, fascinating account, written in real time, of the unfolding of one of the most remarkable scientific discoveries ever made. Predicted by Einstein in his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves carry energy from the collision or explosion of stars. Dying binary stars, for example, rotate faster and faster around each other until they merge, emitting a burst of gravitational waves. It is only with the development of extraordinarily sensitive, highly sophisticated detectors that physicists can now confirm Einstein's prediction. This is the story that Collins tells. Collins, a sociologist of science who has been embedded in the gravitational wave community since 1972, traces the detection, the analysis, the confirmation, and the public presentation and the reception of the discovery - from the first email to the final published paper and the response of professionals and the public. Collins shows that science today is collaborative, far-flung (with the physical location of the participants hardly mattering), and sometimes secretive, but still one of the few institutions that has integrity built into it.
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$30
212391
Costa, James T.
Darwin's Backyard How Small Experiments Led to a Big Theory; including do-it-yourself experiments
W.W. Norton & Company Inc., New York NY, 2017.
Octavo; hardcover, quarter-bound in papered boards with gilt spine titles; 441pp., with many monochrome diagrams and illustrations. Dustwrapper. Remainder. New. James T. Costa takes readers on a journey from Darwin's childhood through his voyage on the HMS Beagle, where his ideas on evolution began, and on to Down House, his bustling home of forty years. Using his garden and greenhouse, the surrounding meadows and woodlands, and even the cellar and hallways of his home-turned-field-station, Darwin tested ideas of his landmark theory of evolution through an astonishing array of experiments without using specialized equipment. From those results, he plumbed the laws of nature and drew evidence for the revolutionary arguments of "On the Origin of Species" and other watershed works. This unique perspective introduces us to an enthusiastic correspondent, collaborator, and, especially, an incorrigible observer and experimenter. And it includes eighteen experiments for home, school, or garden.
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$25
10501
Davies, Paul
The Mind of God Science and the Search for Ultimate Meaning
Simon & Schuster, London, 1992.
First edition: octavo; hardcover; 254pp. Mild wear; pages a little toned; spotted upper text block edge. Dustwrapper now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Near fine. Throughout history, humans have dreamed of knowing the reason for the existence of the universe. In The Mind of God, physicist Paul Davies explores whether modern science can provide the key that will unlock this last secret. In his quest for an ultimate explanation, Davies reexamines the great questions that have preoccupied humankind for millennia, and in the process explores, among other topics, the origin and evolution of the cosmos, the nature of life and consciousness, and the claim that our universe is a kind of gigantic computer. Charting the ways in which the theories of such scientists as Newton, Einstein, and more recently Stephen Hawking and Richard Feynman have altered our conception of the physical universe. Davies puts these scientists' discoveries into context with the writings of philosophers such as Plato. Descartes, Hume, and Kant. His startling conclusion is that the universe is "no minor by-product of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here." By the means of science, we can truly see into the mind of God.
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$20
96789
Davis, Philip J., & Reuben Hersh
Descartes' Dream The World According to Mathematics
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers Inc., San Diego CA, 1986.
First US edition. Octavo; hardcover, quarter-bound in papered boards; 321pp., with many diagrams and monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; spotting to the text block edges; retailer's bookplate to the front pastedown. Price-clipped dustwrapper mildly edgeworn; rear flap creased; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good to near fine. Rationalist philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes visualized a world unified by mathematics, in which all intellectual issues could be resolved rationally by local computation. This series of provocative essays takes a modern look at the seventeenth-century thinker's dream, examining the physical and intellectual influences of mathematics on society, particularly in light of technological advances. These essays survey the conditions of civilization that elicit the application of mathematical principles; the effectiveness of these applications; situations in which the applications are beneficial, dangerous, or irrelevant; and how applied mathematics constrain lives and transform perceptions of reality. Highly suitable for browsing, the essays require different levels of mathematical knowledge that range from popular to professional.
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$25
64933
Day, David
The Weather Watchers 100 Years of the Bureau of Meteorology
Melbourne University Publishing, Carlton Vic., 2007.
Octavo; hardcover, with gilt spine-titling and decorated endpapers; 530pp., colour and monochrome illustrations. Minor wear only. Dustwrapper. Near fine. Part institutional history, part drama and part natural history, this book is the story of the Bureau of Meteorology and the significant and often colourful figures who have been part of the Bureau since its inception 100 years ago.
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$30
92111
Day, Lance, & Ian McNeil (eds.)
Biographical Dictionary of the History of Technology
Routledge, London, 1998.
Quarto; paperback; 844pp. Minor wear; previous owner's initial on contents page and stamp on upper text block edge; a few marks and faint spots on the other text block edges; mild rubbing and minimal wear to cover edges and corners; creasing at corners. Very good to near fine. This Biographical Dictionary seeks to put the world of technology in the context of those who have made the most important contribution to it. For the first time information has been gathered on the people who have made the most significant advances in technology. From ancient times to the present day, the major inventors, discoverers and entrepreneurs from around the world are profiled, and their contribution to society explained and assessed.
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$30
87069
Docker, Edward Wybergh
Darwin's Australian Disciple Raymond Dart on the Origins of Man
Halstead Press, Braddon ACT, 2007.
Octavo; paperback; 160pp., with many colour and monochrome illustrations. Minimal wear to edges. Near fine. Raymond Dart was born above his father's fruit shop in Queensland but went from these humble beginnings to become one of the most groundbreaking palaeontologists of the Twentieth Century. Mostly ignored in his own country, Dart's excavations and discoveries in Africa not only filled in the gaps of how human beings evolved but vindicated many of Darwin's theories regarding that process. He discovered Australopithecus and posited the notion of a "cousin species" to Homo sapiens, igniting debate about whether or not human violent tendencies stem from territorial aggression between these races. This book resolves the oversight of Dart by his national peers, placing him back firmly amongst the giants of evolutionary science.
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$30
85911
Field, Michael, & Martin Golubitsky
Symmetry in Chaos A Search for Pattern in Mathematics Art and Nature
Oxford University Press, Oxford UK, 1992.
Quarto; hardcover, with gilt spine titling; 218pp., with many colour and monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; previous owner's ink inscription. Scuffing and mild wear to dustwrapper edges and corners; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good to near fine. Chaotic dynamics (known popularly as chaos theory or, more simply, chaos) is among the most fascinating new fields in modern science, revolutionizing our understanding of order and pattern in nature. Symmetry, a traditional and highly developed area of mathematics, would seem to lie at the opposite end of the spectrum. From the branching of trees to the rose windows of great cathedrals, symmetric patterns seem the antithesis of such chaotic systems as weather patterns. And yet, scientists are now finding connections between these two areas, connections which could have profound consequences for our understanding of the physical world. In this book the authors have an engaging look at where these two fields meet and in the process, have generated mathematically a series of stunning computer images linking symmetry and chaos. They describe how a chaotic process eventually can lead to symmetric patterns and they provide clear explanations of the science that lies behind the computer images that link symmetry and chaos. Spectacular images.
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$30
84950
Fortey, Richard
The Earth - Folio Society edition An Intimate History
The Folio Society, London, 2011.
First printing. Octavo; hardcover, illustrated papered boards with gilt spine titling; 416pp., with many colour illustrations. Minor wear only. Fine in a like slipcase. Beginning with Mt. Vesuvius, whose eruption in Roman times helped spark the science of geology, and ending in a lab in the West of England where mathematical models and lab experiments replace direct observation, Richard Fortey tells us what the present says about ancient geologic processes. He shows how plate tectonics came to rule the geophysical landscape and how the evidence is written in the hills and in the stones. And in the process, he takes us on a wonderful journey around the globe to visit some of the most fascinating and intriguing spots on the planet.
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$45
80081
Friedrich, Walter L. (Alexander R. McBirney, trans.)
Fire in the Sea The Santorini Volcano: Natural History and the Legend of Atlantis
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK, 2001.
Quarto; hardcover, with gilt spine titling; 258pp., with many colour illustrations. Minor wear only. Slightly scuffed dustwrapper. Near fine. "Fire in the Sea is a geological history of Santorini (Thera), a volcanic island in the Aegean that exploded in the middle of the second millennium BC and which is a likely source for the legend of Atlantis. Santorini is part of the Aegean volcanic island arc produced by the collision of the African and European plates and built by volcanic activity over the last two million years... The Minoan eruption left clear traces over a wide area and can be dated using a variety of methods- archaeology, Greenland ice-cores, radiocarbon dating, dendrochronology - giving a date of 1645 BC, to within five or ten years... Friedrich presents some clever 'detective work' to show that a caldera must have existed before the explosion. And he goes on to explore the possible connection of Santorini with the legend of Atlantis... Fire in the Sea is lavishly, almost extravagantly, provided with colour photographs of island landscapes, rocks and rock formations, and archaeological artefacts. It also has an extensive assortment of maps and diagrams. Appendices contain the relevant portions of Plato's Timaeus and Critias (the sources of the Atlantis legend) and complete lists of known island fossils and flora." - Danny Yee.
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$40
84913
[Galileo] Drake, Stillman
Galileo at Work His Scientific Biography
University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1978.
Octavo; hardcover, with silver-gilt spine-titling; 536pp., with an engraved frontispiece and monochrome illustrations. Boards mildly rubbed and spine extremities softened; very faint offset to the endpapers; some mild dusting to the text block edges. Dustwrapper is well-rubbed; edgewear with associated creasing; a large chip from the top of the lower panel with some loss of text; now backed by archival-quality white paper and professionally protected by superior non-adhesive film. Very good. This fascinating, scholarly study by one of the world's foremost authorities on Galileo offers a vivid portrait of one of history's greatest minds. Detailed accounts, including many excerpts from Galileo's own writings, offer insights into his work on motion, mechanics, hydraulics, strength of materials, and projectiles.
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$22
209615
Gould, Stephen Jay
Eight Little Piggies Reflections in Natural History
W W Norton, New York, 1993.
First edition. Hardcover, octavo; quarter bound orange papered boards with beige cloth spine and red gilt spine titling; 479pp., monochrome illustrations. Spotting and rubbing to board edges; mildly spotted endpapers; spotting to text block upper edge with one or two spots otherwise; slightly sunned spine panel. Very good. Wrapper now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film.
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$25
70549
Gould, Stephen Jay
The Lying Stones of Marrakech Penultimate Reflections in Natural History
Jonathan Cape, London, 2000.
First edition: octavo; hardcover, with gilt spine titling; 372pp., with many monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; mild scattered spotting to text block edges; small mark on preliminaries. Dustwrapper spine mildly faded; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good. Once again Stephen Jay Gould has applied biographical perspectives to the illumination of key scientific concepts and their history, ranging from the origins of palaeontology to modern eugenics and genetic engineering. The essays elucidate the puzzles and paradoxes great and small that have fuelled science and brought to our attention unexpected wonders.
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$25
211409
Gould, Stephen Jay
An Urchin in the Storm Essays about Books and Ideas
Collins Harvill, London, 1988.
First edition. Octavo; hardcover, with gilt spine titling; 255pp. Mild wear; toning with scattered spotting on text block edges. Dustwrapper slightly rubbed; mild edgewear; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good.
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$25
85336
Grosholz, Emily R.
Cartesian Method and the Problem of Reduction
Clarendon Press, Oxford UK, 1991.
Octavo; hardcover, with gilt spine titling; 161pp., with many diagrams. Minor wear; previous owner's name in ink. Dustwrapper lightly rubbed with spine slightly faded. Near fine. The Cartesian method, construed as a way of organizing domains of knowledge according to the "order of reasons," was a powerful reductive tool. Descartes made significant strides in mathematics, physics, and metaphysics by relating certain complex items and problems back to more simple elements that served as starting points for his inquiries. But his reductive method also impoverished these domains in important ways, for it tended to restrict geometry to the study of straight line segments, physics to the study of ambiguously constituted bits of matter in motion, and metaphysics to the study of the isolated, incorporeal knower. This book examines in detail the negative and positive impact of Descartes's method on his scientific and philosophical enterprises, exemplified by the "Geometry", the "Principles", the "Treatise of Man", and the "Meditations".
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$65
88524
Halls, Julie
Inventions that Didn't Change the World
Thames & Hudson Ltd., London, 2014.
Octavo; hardcover, with illustrated boards; 224pp., with many colour illustrations. No dustwrapper as issued. Remainder. New. "Inventions that Didn't Change the World" is a fascinating visual tour through some of the most bizarre inventions registered with the British authorities in the nineteenth century. In an era when Britain was the workshop of the world, design protection (nowadays patenting) was all the rage, and the apparently lenient approval process meant that all manner of bizarre curiosities were painstakingly recorded, in beautiful colour illustrations and well-penned explanatory text, alongside the genuinely great inventions of the period. Irreverent commentary contextualizes each submission as well as taking a humorous view on how each has stood the test of time.
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$30
202998
Harkness, Deborah E.
The Jewel House Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution
Yale University Press, New Haven CT, 2007.
Octavo; hardcover; 349pp., with many monochrome illustrations. A few faint spots on text block edges and mild wear to board corners. Near fine in like dustwrapper. Author Deborah Harkness explores the streets, shops, back alleys, and gardens of Elizabethan London, where a boisterous and diverse group of men and women shared a keen interest in the study of nature. These assorted merchants, gardeners, barber-surgeons, midwives, instrument makers, mathematics teachers, engineers, alchemists, and other experimenters, she contends, formed a patchwork scientific community whose practices set the stage for the Scientific Revolution. While Francis Bacon has been widely regarded as the father of modern science, scores of his London contemporaries also deserve a share in this distinction. It was their collaborative, yet often contentious, ethos that helped to develop the ideals of modern scientific research. The book examines six particularly fascinating episodes of scientific inquiry and dispute in sixteenth-century London, bringing to life the individuals involved and the challenges they faced. These men and women experimented and invented, argued and competed, waged wars in the press, and struggled to understand the complexities of the natural world. Together their stories illuminate the blind alleys and surprising twists and turns taken as medieval philosophy gave way to the empirical, experimental culture that became a hallmark of the Scientific Revolution.
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$30
204397
Holford-Strevens, Leofranc
A Short History of Time - Folio Society edition
Folio Society, London, 2007.
First printing. Octavo hardcover; blue decorated boards with gilt spine titling and dark blue endpapers; 137pp., monochrome illustrations and diagrams. Near fine in dark blue slipcase.
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$20
96809
Holmes, John
The Age of Wonder How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science
HarperPress/HarperCollins Publishers, London, 2008.
Octavo; hardcover, with silver-gilt spine titles and endpaper maps; 554pp., with a full-colour frontispiece and 24pp. of monochrome and full-colour plates. Minor wear; remainder mark to the text block bottom edge. Dustwrapper with a promotional sticker to the front panel; a small tear to the top edge of the front panel; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Near fine. "The Romantic generation examined here stretches from Joseph Banks voyaging to the South Seas in the 1760s to William Whewell coining the word 'scientist' in 1833. The central figures are William Herschel and Humphry Davy, stars of the 'second scientific revolution', as Coleridge called it in a lecture of 1819. Holmes sees this revolution as inspired by breakthroughs in astronomy and chemistry, bringing a 'new imaginative intensity' to the rational approach of the Enlightenment. He gives us stories of individuals braving great odds, taking risks, undergoing physical and intellectual tests of endurance. In "The Age of Wonder" we follow a series of such journeys, physical, emotional, imaginative and intellectual...we share their experience, like the amazed joy of Banks watching the Tahitians surfing...The overarching conception, the author reveals, is not of solitary striving but a relay race, in which the baton is handed from one person to another. Communication itself is therefore part of Holmes's subject...The later chapters show how the discoveries of Humphry Davy led not only to considerations of the material universe but to meditations on consciousness, the nature of 'the soul' and the hidden principle of generation...A writer's skill can make a lost world live, and Richard Holmes does that here..."The Age of Wonder" gives us a whole set of 'newly connected and newly modified ideas', a new model for scientific exploration and poetic expression in the Romantic period. Informative and invigorating, generous and beguiling, it is, indeed, wonderful." - Jenny Uglow
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$30
212147
Impey, Chris
Einstein's Monsters The Life and Times of Black Holes
W.W. Norton & Company Inc., New York NY, 2019.
First edition: octavo; hardcover; 295pp., with monochrome illustrations. Dustwrapper. Remainder. New. Black holes are the most extreme objects in the universe, yet every galaxy harbours a black hole at its centre. In Einstein's Monsters, Chris Impey builds on this profound discovery to explore questions at the cutting edge of cosmology, such as what happens if you travel into a black hole and whether the galaxy or its black hole came first. Impey chronicles the role black holes have played in theoretical physics. He then describes the phenomena that scientists have witnessed while observing black holes: dozens of stars swarming around the dark object at the centre of our galaxy; black holes performing gravitational waltzes with normal stars; the cymbal clash of two black holes colliding, releasing ripples in spacetime. Einstein's Monsters is the incredible story of one of the most enigmatic entities in nature.
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$24
90441
[Isaac Newton] Dry, Sarah
The Newton Papers The Strange & True Odyssey of Isaac Newton's Manuscripts
Oxford University Press, New York NY, 2014.
Octavo; hardcover; 238pp. Dustwrapper. Remainder. New. In the 1940s, a visitor to the Sir Isaac Newton Library on the campus of the Babson Institute could find herself transported to the front parlor of the house on St. Martin's Street in London where Newton had lived between 1710 and 1725. Grace Knight Babson, wife of the shrewd investor and millionaire Roger Babson, had purchased the room - including its original pine-paneled walls and carved mantelpiece - and brought the pieces to Massachusetts, where it was reassembled as a tribute to the man who had lived and worked within it. Roger Babson had made his fortune, he said, by espying Newton's 'law of action and reaction' in business cycles. To Babson and his wife, Newton was a seer who had divined the laws of markets as well as of nature. This was a quirky view of Newton, to be sure. But from the moment Newton died in 1727, different visions of the man arose. In The Newton Papers, Sarah Dry tells the story of these competing images of Newton by following the trail of the manuscripts Newton left behind. At his death, Newton left some eight million words written on what an assessor of his estate called 'loose and foul sheets,' unlabeled, tied with string and stuffed into boxes in no apparent order. His nephew John Conduitt planned to use them to write a biography of Newton, whom he idolized as a kind of intellectual saint. Conduitt soon realized the papers contained not only mathematical and scientific notes but also writings on alchemy, theology and church history - some demonstrating that his uncle held the heretical belief of 'Anti-Trinitarianism,' The incredible bulk of papers overwhelmed Conduitt, and he died in 1737 before completing his task. Newton's estate passed to his descendants, the Portsmouth family, and most of the manuscripts were deposited in their home at Hurstbourne Park. The secretary of the Royal Society, Samuel Horsley, proposed publishing a complete edition of Newton's writings in 1775 and was granted access to the papers. In the end only nine items - all related to Newton's scientific pursuits - were printed. Horsley abandoned the plan of publishing the complete manuscripts, 'most likely,' Ms. Dry speculates, 'because of the papers' heretical content.' After Horsley, no one was interested in the papers for decades. Ms. Dry contends that for 150 years after Newton's death the papers were 'hidden from sight' because they threatened Newton's image as a 'paragon of rationality,' showing him to be 'an obsessive heretic' interested in turning base metals into gold. But it is not clear that the papers were suppressed so much as ignored. In the author's own telling, few thought it worthwhile to consult them. The indifference to Newton's papers in the 18th century is even more astonishing - especially given today's compulsion to pore over the ephemera of the famous - than the conjecture that the papers were purposely hidden away. In the 19th century, Ms. Dry asserts, interest in unpublished letters and manuscripts suddenly became 'all the craze.' ... In the 1880s, most of Newton's scientific manuscripts were donated by the Portsmouths and deposited in the Cambridge University Library, where they remained ignored by scholars for 60 more years. Finally in 1939, much of the stash remaining at Hurstbourne - the material dealing with alchemy and theology - was auctioned off. The economist John Maynard Keynes purchased and studied Newton's alchemical manuscripts, concluding that 'Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians.' .. As she traces the path of Newton's manuscripts, she also narrates a history of the antiquarian book-selling trade, describing the eventual formation of a 'Newton industry' of scholars in the kind of publication-by-publication detail that only a member of that field could enjoy. Her book, though, does succeed in showing how each of the different images of Newton that arose in the centuries after his death could indeed be found in Newton the man - and in the papers he left behind." - Laura Snyder
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$24
96770
Johnson, George
Fire in the Mind Science, Faith and the Search for Order
Viking/Penguin Books (Aust.) Pty. Ltd., Ringwood Vic., 1996.
Octavo; hardcover, with silver-gilt spine titles; 379pp., with diagrams. Minor wear; text block edges lightly toned. Dustwrapper. Near fine. A New York Times science writer contemplates the human compulsion to search for order and purpose in the origin of the universe and the development of life on earth. Johnson chooses the spiritually and geologically multilayered landscape of New Mexico as the setting for this impressive meditation. The gnarled terrain is home to a seemingly motley collection of ideologies: the Roman Catholicism of the Spanish conquistadors, the pioneering science of the nuclear physicists of Los Alamos, the mushy crystal-gazing of transplanted New Agers, the overlapping cosmologies of different groups of Tewa Indians. But as Johnson proceeds to show, all these groups share the uniquely human drive to find patterns, to explain reality, to find a comforting reason why we are here. At bottom, is the Big Bang any more comforting or provable than the creation myths of the Tewa? By the time Johnson has finished his own tour of quantum physics, the menagerie of atomic particles begins to seem like nonsense, invented for the convenience of physicists whose experiments needed them. The progress of science turns out to be 'a house of cards, each [layer] resting on a shakier foundation and each testifying to our theoretical bravado.' No matter how ingenious we are, we are still here, stuck on a microdot in the universe. Johnson takes us through some of the best theories: the concept of information as a fundamental force; various attempts to explain the origin of life; the question of whether human complexity is a miraculous fluke of natural selection or an inevitable and repeatable evolution. Johnson's careful and deliberate explanations make you think, which is rare and wonderful, but the blizzard of concepts and scientists may eventually glaze a fascinated reader's wide eyes. A journey along the edge of human comprehension: accessible and even elegant, but a bit overstuffed." - Kirkus
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$25
95380
Kaplan, Robert (Ellen Kaplan, illus.)
The Nothing That Is A Natural History of Zero
Penguin Books (Aust.) Pty. Ltd., Camberwell Vic., 1999.
Octavo; hardcover, with silver-gilt spine titling; 225pp., with many monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; board edges lightly discoloured. Dustwrapper now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Near fine. Robert Kaplan's "The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero" begins as a mystery story, taking us back to Sumerian times, and then to Greece and India, piecing together the way the idea of a symbol for nothing evolved. Kaplan shows us just how handicapped our ancestors were in trying to figure large sums without the aid of the zero. (Try multiplying CLXIV by XXIV). Remarkably, even the Greeks, mathematically brilliant as they were, didn't have a zero - or did they? We follow the trail to the East where, a millennium or two ago, Indian mathematicians took another crucial step. By treating zero for the first time like any other number, instead of a unique symbol, they allowed huge new leaps forward in computation, and also in our understanding of how mathematics itself works. In the Middle Ages, this mathematical knowledge swept across western Europe via Arab traders. At first it was called "dangerous Saracen magic" and considered the Devil's work, but it wasn't long before merchants and bankers saw how handy this magic was, and used it to develop tools like double-entry bookkeeping. Zero quickly became an essential part of increasingly sophisticated equations, and with the invention of calculus, one could say it was a linchpin of the scientific revolution. And now even deeper layers of this thing that is nothing are coming to light: our computers speak only in zeros and ones, and modern mathematics shows that zero alone can be made to generate everything.
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$18
215111
Kennefick, Daniel
No Shadow of a Doubt The 1919 Eclipse that Confirmed Einstein's Theory of Relativity
Princeton University Press, New York NY, 2019.
Octavo; hardcover; 403pp., with monochrome illustrations. Dustwrapper. Remainder. New. Daniel Kennefick, in 2019, takes on the critics of Eddington and Dyson, astronomers who travelled from England to an island off west Africa and to an inland observing spot in Brazil, respectively, to observe the 29 May 1919 eclipse of the Sun as a means for testing Einstein's 1915 theory that light consists of particles that are deflected by gravity as they move through a strong (the Sun's) gravitational field. Prior to Einstein's new theory, scientists thought of light as consisting of waves that vibrate in the ether, having no substance. Astronomers Eddington at Cambridge Observatory and Dyson at the Royal Greenwich Observatory, understood the upcoming opportunity, had the help of a Joint Permanent Eclipse Committee composed of astronomers in England in the process of winning government funding, were immersed in uncertainty by the ongoing WWI while planning, but planned anyway. The war ended. They found transport to their separate viewing sites. Observing time for a total eclipse lasts only a few minutes. The Sun's disk is completely covered by the Moon with only the Sun's limb visible. Stars are visible both near the Sun and some distance from the Sun. If Einstein is right, the light from the stars appearing near the Sun's edge is bent as it passes the Sun. Light from stars located some distance away from the Sun is not bent or, at least, is bent less. The two parties set up their equipment. They made their observations on film. And then the data analysis began, most of it done at their respective observatories back in England. One needs a view of those same stars taken at night when the Sun is not in the segment of sky being viewed. One then measures - using a micrometer while examining the developed film - the distances between the reference stars and compares each star's apparent position (with respect to the other stars) when the Sun is in the field of vision during the eclipse with the same stars' positions when the Sun is not in the field. If the Sun's gravity bends light, as Einstein says, the stars near the Sun will appear in a slightly different position on the film during the eclipse than they do when the Sun is not in the field of view. The photos during the eclipse must be captured during the few minutes of full eclipse since that is the only time when the stars around the Sun can be seen. The comparison photos of the same piece of sky must be captured at night when the Earth is at approximately the same place in its annual orbit that it was at the time of the eclipse - within a day or two of the eclipse, or as much as a year earlier or later. If the film requires a minute or two to record the light of the dim stars, the telescopes must be able to track the apparent motion of the stars or the star images appear as streaks on the film rather than a precise point. Einstein's theory said the bent-light would make the star appear to be displaced less than a full diameter of the image of a star. Imagine what that demands of the analyst using the micrometer to measure distances on the film! Doing the observations accurately in 1919 was delicate business and doing the measurements comparing the eclipse images with the reference images was equally delicate. Using images from both Principe (Eddington's observing location off west Africa) and Brazil (Dyson's observing location), Eddington said Einstein's theory was confirmed. Dyson's "best" telescopes had failed to produce images that were interpretable. Announcing their results, Einstein, virtually unknown before, almost instantly became world famous and remained so for the rest of his life.
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$25
205358
Langford-Smith, F.
Radio Designers Handbook: two volumes 4th Edition Vol.1 & 2
The Vintage Audio Company, Brynhelygen Wales UK, 1996.
Reprint: two volumes, quarto; hardcover, with gilt upper board and spine titling; 1498pp. [700pp. + 798pp.], with many monochrome diagrams and black ribbon markers. Minor wear; minor guillotining error to an early page. No dustwrappers as issued. Fine.
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$75
96511
Lardner, Dionysius
The Electric Telegraph Popularised With one hundred illustrations
Lockwood & Co., London, nd. (c.1874).
Octavo; hardcover, half-bound in green calf with gilt rules, upper board and spine decorations and gilt spine titles on a red morocco label; 653pp., text block edges marbled, with many engraved illustrations. Moderate wear; covers rubbed and edgeworn; corners bumped with some fraying; book prize plate tipped-in to the front pastedown; light scattered foxing throughout. Very good. This lavish binding collects several pamphlets written by the indefatigable Dionysius Lardner on various aspects of Physics, but concentrating primarily on those which outline the state of the art of telegraphy at the time. Presented as a prize by the Society of Merchant Venturers of the City of Bristol to a colleague who had succeeded in government scientific examinations, this compilation surely indicates the career path upon which this fellow was about to set forth. Beginning with a history and overview of the technology involved with the telegraph, the pamphlets discuss the apparatus's use in meteorology and astronomy as well as the relevant mechanical skills that would be useful in overseeing the operation of such a device. In the final few chapters such things as the physical operation of mirrors and a discussion of how poets record physical phenomena in their work and incompetently assign such things to 'higher powers' rather than natural forces in action. As a miscellany of scientific observations, this volume will provide many hours of useful and enlightening reading.
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$80
83734
Mandelbrot, Benoit B.
The Fractalist Memoir of a Scientific Maverick
Pantheon, New York NY, 2012.
Octavo; hardcover; 324pp., with many monochrome illustrations. Dustwrapper. Remainder. New. A fascinating memoir from the man who revitalized visual geometry, and whose ideas about fractals have changed how we look at both the natural world and the financial world.
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$24
94440
[Marie Curie] Emling, Shelley
Marie Curie and Her Daughters The Private Lives of Science's First Family
Palgrave Macmillan, New York NY, 2012.
Octavo; hardcover, with silver-gilt spine titling; 219pp., monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; toned text block edges with remainder mark on the upper edge. Very good to near fine otherwise in like dustwrapper. "Journalist Emling opens with Marie receiving her second Nobel Prize a few years after the death of husband, Pierre, with whom she shared her first Nobel. While many Curie biographies pay scant attention to this last quarter-century of her life, Emling explores the later years of 'the woman, mother, and friend behind the pioneering scientist,' bolstered by the Curie family's personal letters, given to the author by Curie's granddaughter, Helene Langevin-Joliot. Emling describes Curie's life trying to balance the demands of her scientific research with the needs of her two daughters. At the time of her second Nobel, Curie's career was nearly derailed when news emerged of an affair between her and a married former student, physicist Paul Langevin. Although the scandal died down eventually, Curie would remain wary of journalists for the rest of her life, save one: American magazine editor and socialite Marie -Missy- Meloney, who befriended Curie and brought her to America as part of a campaign to raise funds for Curie's Radium Institute. Emling explores in full the scientific career of Curie's daughter Irene; working together, Irene and her husband followed in her parents' footsteps, sharing a Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1935 - an honor Marie did not live to see, having died the previous year. Unfortunately, Eve, the daughter who opted for a career as a musician and journalist, receives scant attention; Emling relegates the details of her life to a single chapter, which feels obligatory and tacked on." - Kirkus
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$22
202995
Miller, Arthur I.
Empire of the Stars Friendship, Obsession and Betrayal in the Quest for Black Holes
Little Brown, London, 2005.
Octavo hardcover, with gilt spine titling; 400pp., colour and monochrome plates. Mild wear; lightly browned and spotted text block edges; scattered spotting throughout with a few small marks. Mild wear to dustwrapper edges. Very good. On January 11 1935, the young Indian astrophysicist, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, known to all as 'Chandra', presented a revolutionary piece of work at a meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society. To an audience of eminent colleagues, Chandra showed how dying stars that are sufficiently fat will be unable to support themselves. The force of gravity will squeeze them away to nothingness, points of infinite concentration in space and time. Using an elegant amalgam of new-fangled ideas, he came up with an iron clad mathematical result that overturned the standard model of stellar evolution. Yet at this meeting, Chandra was humiliated and crushed. Sir Arthur Eddington, the high priest of British astrophysics, ridiculed his result with such venom that he left Chandra deeply traumatised. History is littered with scientific spats. Disagreement can strengthen a field of research, preventing bad ideas from emerging to the forefront. It can sharpen arguments in support of novel theories and concepts, making them even more compelling. Yet often the thrust of the discussion is distorted by personal prejudices and agendas. And when the intricacies of the social status of the participants is thrown into the mix, the intellectual merit of the different positions can be clouded. Arthur I. Miller has chosen a striking example of this. The young Chandra's research into the collapse of what are known as white dwarfs opened a plausible physical route to the formation of the most exotic of objects, black holes, nuggets in Albert Einstein's theory of gravity. Eddington was feverishly working on a theory that he believed would supersede Einstein's. He felt threatened by Chandra's result and did everything in his power to prevent its acceptance by the community at large. His relentless campaign delayed research in black holes for at least 30 years. Miller goes to great lengths to unpick the various forces at play in this row and to build up complex profiles of the two participants. Chandra's inner life is scrutinised in some detail. Newly arrived in Cambridge, he rapidly concluded that 'The formality of introduction is so great and even then it is not worth the trouble of getting introduced.' This inability to find a comfortable place within his social environment stayed with him throughout his life. Chandra would constantly be seduced by the establishment while at the same time feeling rejected by it, instilling in him a sense of unjustifiable insecurity. He was a flawed, tortured character who never really took pleasure in his outstanding talents. Eddington, on the other hand comes across as an unlikable character. He thrives in the parochial atmosphere of Oxbridge, relishing the power of his prestigious appointment and the social interplay of Trinity College. He is duplicitous with Chandra, supporting his research in private but publicly ridiculing him in his lectures and writings. In fact, Eddington clearly gets a kick out of making public jibes at all his junior colleagues. The scientific themes of the debate are developed in great detail. Miller unpeels the various conceptual layers that went into Chandra's argument. The range of topics is so vast that some explanations are inevitably insufficient, paragraphs too short to explain complex issues. But the collapse of white dwarfs, which lies at the core of Chandra's calculation, is explained so thoroughly and from so many different angles that it becomes crystal clear; while, to give us an idea of the importance of Chandra's discovery, Miller pursues the developments in astrophysics over the last 40 years. The story of the fight between Chandra and Eddington had to be told. Miller has had access to a wealth of private correspondence, enabling him to construct a compelling picture of the participants. The result is a disturbing tale of how personal ambitions and insecurities can leave a long-lasting aftershock in the progress of scientific thought." - Pedro G. Ferreira
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$22
214085
Monk, Ray
Inside the Centre The Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer
Jonathan Cape Ltd., London, 2012.
First edition: thick octavo; hardcover, with gilt spine titling and a blue ribbon; 818pp., with many monochrome illustrations. Mild wear; browned and spotted text block and page edges. Dustwrapper now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good. J. Robert Oppenheimer is among the most contentious and important figures of the twentieth century. As head of the Los Alamos Laboratory, he oversaw the successful effort to beat the Nazis to develop the first atomic bomb - a breakthrough which was to have eternal ramifications for mankind, and made Oppenheimer the 'father of the Bomb'. Oppenheimer was a man of diverse interests and phenomenal intellectual attributes. His talent and drive allowed him as a young scientist to enter a community peopled by the great names of twentieth-century physics - men such as Bohr, Born, Dirac and Einstein - and to play a role in the laboratories and classrooms where the world was being changed forever. But Oppenheimer's was not a simple story of assimilation, scientific success and world fame. A complicated and fragile personality, the implications of the discoveries at Los Alamos were to weigh heavily upon him. Having formed suspicious connections in the 1930s, in the wake of the Allied victory in World War Two, Oppenheimer's attempts to resist the escalation of the Cold War arms race would lead many to question his loyalties - and set him on a collision course with Senator Joseph McCarthy and his witch hunters. As with Ray Monk's peerless biographies of Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, Inside the Centre is a work of towering scholarship. A story of discovery, secrecy, impossible choices and unimaginable destruction, it goes deeper than any previous work in revealing the motivations and complexities of this most brilliant and divisive of men.
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$35
204391
Morton, Oliver
Mapping Mars
Picador, New York, 2002.
First edition: hardcover, octavo; red boards with silver gilt spine titling and map endpapers; 357pp., colour & monochrome plates. Minor wear only; near fine in like dustwrapper. A narrative history of the men and women who have explored Mars and mapped its surface from afar, and in so doing conditioned our understanding of our nearest planetary neighbour. The maps of Mars are exquisitely detailed representations of a land as large as all the continents of the earth combined. Yet they are being drawn before any human eye has seen the wonders they contain. In this fascinating mix of science, travel and the history of scientific imagination, Oliver Morton tells the story of the men and women who are mapping a dramatic, mysterious landscape, without having once set foot on its surface. Filled with awe-inspiring detail about volcanoes twice the height of Everest, basins deeper than the Pacific, 'Mapping Mars' is a breathtaking account of a world opening up to the imagination.
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$28
11001
Moyal, Ann
'A Bright & Savage Land' Scientists in Colonial Australia
William Collins Pty. Ltd., Sydney NSW, 1986.
Quarto; hardcover; 192pp., with many full-colour and monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; lightly edgeworn. Dustwrapper now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good. In the first hundred years after European settlement, scientists shipped preserved specimens of animals and flowers, and rocks to an excited Europe with much the same mystery and suspense as dust and photographs are now brought from the moon. With the aid of their letters, diaries and journals, Ann Moyal describes the work and characters of these pioneers. They were a diverse band of 'amateur and gentlemen' scientists: colonial doctors, clergymen, public servants, European travellers and British and American naturalists on the brink of distinguished careers. They joined together as colleagues, squabbled over priorities, fretted for greater contact with the centres of research and pushed the boundaries of knowledge outwards. Many of the early naturalists were also illustrators or they were accompanied by artists who left beautifully executed pictures of Australia's early scientific endeavour bringing rich information of the flora and fauna, the Aboriginal people and the landscape before the world.
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$35
94443
Nasar, Sylvia
A Beautiful Mind
Simon & Schuster, New York, 1998.
First edition: octavo; hardcover, quarter-bound in cloth with papered boards with gilt spine titling; 459pp., with many monochrome plates. Minor wear; a few tiny spots on text block edges. Dustwrapper now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Near fine. Stories of famously eccentric Princetonians abound - such as that of chemist Hubert Alyea, the model for The Absent-Minded Professor, or Ralph Nader, said to have had his own key to the library as an undergraduate. Or the "Phantom of Fine Hall," a figure many students had seen shuffling around the corridors of the maths and physics building wearing purple sneakers and writing numerology treatises on the blackboards. The Phantom was John Nash, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of his generation, who had spiraled into schizophrenia in the 1950s. His most important work had been in game theory, which by the 1980s was underpinning a large part of economics. When the Nobel Prize committee began debating a prize for game theory, Nash's name inevitably came up - only to be dismissed, since the prize clearly could not go to a madman. But in 1994 Nash, in remission from schizophrenia, shared the Nobel Prize in economics for work done some 45 years previously.
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$28
91420
Popper, Karl R.
Realism and the Aim of Science From the Postscript to the Logic of Scientific Discovery
Rowman and Littlefield, Totowa NJ, 1983.
Octavo; hardcover, with gilt spine titling; 185pp. Minor wear; previous owner's name in ink; mild offsetting to endpapers; spotting to text block edges. Dustwrapper slightly toned with mild wear to the edges; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good to near fine. Realism and the Aim of Science is one of the three volumes of Karl Popper's Postscript to the Logic of scientific Discovery. The Postscript is the culmination of Popper's work in the philosophy of physics and a now famous attack on subjectivist approaches to philosophy of science.
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$35
91271
[Radio and Hobbies in Australia]
Radio and Hobbies in Australia, Vol.1, No.1 (April 1939)
Radio and Hobbies, n.p., 1939.
Octavo; paperback, stapled booklet; 72pp, with many monochrome illustrations. Foxing and toned pages; mild wear only to paper covers. Very good.
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$30
201939
Randall, Lisa
Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe
HarperCollins Publishers Inc., New York NY, 2015.
Octavo; hardcover, quarter-bound in papered boards with metallic blue spine titling; 412pp., with many monochrome illustrations. Dustwrapper. Remainder. New. Sixty-six million years ago, an object the size of a city descended from space to crash into Earth, creating a devastating cataclysm that killed off the dinosaurs, along with three-quarters of the other species on the planet. What was its origin? In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, Lisa Randall proposes it was a comet that was dislodged from its orbit as the Solar System passed through a disk of dark matter embedded in the Milky Way. In a sense, it might have been dark matter that killed the dinosaurs. Working through the background and consequences of this proposal, Randall shares with us the latest findings - established and speculative - regarding the nature and role of dark matter and the origin of the Universe, our galaxy, our Solar System, and life, along with the process by which scientists explore new concepts. In "Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs", Randall tells a breathtaking story that weaves together the cosmos's history and our own, illuminating the deep relationships that are critical to our world and the astonishing beauty inherent in the most familiar things
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$24
214086
Ridley, Matt
The Origins of Virtue
Viking, London, 1996.
First edition. Octavo hardcover; black boards with gilt spine titling; 295pp., b&w illustrations. A few pen markings and marginal notations. Toned and mildly spotted text block and page edges. Very good in like dustwrapper; now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. The author explores the issues surrounding the development of human morality. The book, written from a sociobiological viewpoint, explores how genetics can be used to explain certain traits of human behaviour, in particular morality and altruism. Starting from the premise that society can on a simplistic level be represented as a variant of the 'prisoner's dilemma', Ridley examines how it has been possible for a society to arise in which people choose to co-operate rather than defect. Ridley examines the history of different attempts which have been made to explain the fact that humans in society do not defect, looking at various computer generated models which have been used to explain how such behaviour could arise. In particular he looks at systems based on the idea of tit for tat, where members of the group only cooperate with those who also cooperate and exclude those who do not. This allows altruistic behaviour to develop, and causes the optimum solution to the dilemma, to no longer be to defect but instead to cooperate. He applies this to humans and suggests that genes which generated altruistic-tit for tat behaviour would be likely to be passed on and therefore give rise to the kind of behaviour we see today. From this argument Ridley argues that society operates best in groups of around 150 individuals, which he suggests is the level at which humans are capable of being sure about which members to cooperate with and which to exclude. Although he avoids drawing any specific political points, Ridley ends his book by arguing for a smaller state operating on a more local level.
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$24
207236
Segre, Gino
Faust in Copenhagen A Struggle for the Soul of Physics
Jonathan Cape Ltd./Random House Ltd., London, 2007.
Octavo; hardcover, with gilt spine-titling and black endpapers; 310pp., with monochrome illustrations and 8pp. of monochrome plates. Minor wear; somewhat rolled; text block edges toned. Dustwrapper now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Near fine. "As though their knowledge of the quantum secrets came with the power of prophecy, some three dozen of Europe's best physicists ended their 1932 meeting in Copenhagen with a parody of Goethe's Faust. Just weeks earlier, James Chadwick had discovered neutrons - the bullets of nuclear fission - and before long Enrico Fermi was shooting them at uranium atoms. By the time of the first nuclear explosion a little more than a decade later in New Mexico, the idea of physics as a Faustian bargain was to its makers already a cliche. Robert Oppenheimer, looking for a sound bite, quoted Vishnu instead: 'Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.' Innocent of all that lay before them, the luminaries gathering at Niels Bohr's Institute for Theoretical Physics were in a whimsical mood. Werner Heisenberg, Paul Dirac and Lise Meitner were there. Max Delbruck, the young scientist charged with writing the spoof - it happened to be the centennial of Goethe's death - couldn't resist depicting Bohr himself as the Lord Almighty and the acerbic Wolfgang Pauli as Mephistopheles. They were perfect choices. The avuncular Bohr, with his inquisitive needling, had presided over the quantum revolution, revealing the strange workings within atoms, while the skeptical Pauli, who famously signed his letters 'The Scourge of God' could always be counted on for a sarcastic comment. Faust, who in the legend sells his soul for universal knowledge, was recast as a troubled Paul Ehrenfest, the Austrian physicist who despaired of ever understanding this young man's game in which particles were just smears of probability. Disguised with makeup, younger physicists played the parts of their 'elders.' (Pauli, who skipped the meeting, was just turning 32.) Faust's tormented love, Gretchen, appeared as the fairylike neutrino. It was only in retrospect that the silliness became profound. The players were becoming possessors of 'a truth with implicit powers of good and evil,' Gino Segre writes in Faust in Copenhagen, his inventive new book about the era. And 'the devil ... was in the details.' The story of the quantum revolution has been told so many times that it has become as ritualized as the stations of the cross. How Max Planck, faced with some curious observations about hot glowing objects, reluctantly proposed that light is sputtered out in packets - the quanta. How Albert Einstein, seeing deeper, realized that light must also travel that way, that its waves were also particles. How Bohr brought the graininess into the atom, with electrons hopping between orbits in quantum jumps. How Heisenberg, marooning himself on the bleak isle of Helgoland, saw that there were no orbits, that what happened inside atoms was different from anything that could be pictured by a human brain. Any reluctance I had to revisit these shrines was quickly overcome by Segre's inviting touch. A theoretical physicist at the University of Pennsylvania and a nephew of Emilio Segre, who collaborated with Fermi on radioactivity research, the author begins with the Faust parody and circles back to it again and again. It acts like a magnet, reshaping the familiar into an interesting new design. One of the most striking things about the quantum revolutionaries was their youthfulness. Heisenberg was 23 when he had his epiphany. Pauli, when not quite 25, came up with a fundamental tenet called the exclusion principle. Dirac was just a little older when he predicted the positron - another particle discovered the same year as the Copenhagen fest. By then the threesome was already past its prime. 'Old age is a cold fever / That every physicist suffers with!' the actor playing Dirac complained. 'When one is past 30, / He is as good as dead!' Bohr at 46 was the grand old man. Absent altogether was Einstein, past 50 and out of the loop, trying to overthrow quantum mechanics with a wastebasket full of crumpled ideas. In the Copenhagen Faust he has a cameo role - the king leading his pet fleas. In Goethe's telling, no one in the court dared complain about the pests, and so it was, the devilish Pauli proclaims, with the aging Einstein: Half-naked, fleas came pouring/From Berlin's joy and pride,/Named by the unadoring:/'Field Theories - Unified.' In the end the most inspired part of the production was the transformation of Ehrenfest into Ehrenfaust. Assailed by self-doubt and family problems, and overwhelmed by the rapid pace of the new physics, he was falling into a dark depression. Trading his soul for enlightenment might have seemed like a good deal. The shocking details of his suicide the following year, and the way Segre ties them back to the Faust legend, brings a solemn close to a memorable retelling of one of science's most heroic eras." - George Johnson
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$30
203651
Sheller, Mimi
Aluminum Dreams The Making of Light Modernity
The MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 2014.
First edition: octavo; hardcover, with silver-gilt spine titles; 367pp., with many monochrome and colour illustrations. Very minor wear; reviewer's sticker to the first page. Dustwrapper. Fine. Aluminium shaped the Twentieth Century. It enabled high-speed travel and gravity-defying flight. It was the material of a streamlined aesthetic that came to represent modernity. And it became an essential ingredient in industrial and domestic products that ranged from aeroplanes and cars to designer chairs and artificial Christmas trees. It entered modern homes as packaging, foil, pots and pans and even infiltrated our bodies through food, medicine, and cosmetics. In "Aluminum Dreams", Mimi Sheller describes how the materiality and meaning of aluminium transformed modern life and continues to shape the world today.
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$30
8231
Sobel, Dava
Galileo's Daughter A Drama of Science, Faith and Love
Fourth Estate Ltd., London, 1999.
First edition: octavo; hardcover, with gilt spine-titling; 429pp., with many monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; text block edges lightly toned. Dustwrapper lightly rubbed and edgeworn; sunned along the spine panel. Very good.
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$23
96939
Sobel, Dava
The Glass Universe The Hidden History of the Women Who Took the Measure of the Stars
4th Estate/HarperCollins Publishers, London, 2016.
Octavo; paperback; 324pp., with a monochrome frontispiece and 16 pp. of colour and monochrome plates. Mild wear; remainder mark to the text block top edge. Very good to near fine. In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or 'human computers', to interpret the observations made via telescope by their male counterparts each night. At the outset this group included the wives, sisters, and daughters of the resident astronomers, but by the 1880s the female corps included graduates of the new women's colleges - Vassar, Wellesley, and Smith. As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the ladies turned to studying the stars captured nightly on glass photographic plates. The 'glass universe' of half a million plates that Harvard amassed in this period - thanks in part to the early financial support of another woman, Mrs. Anna Draper, whose late husband pioneered the technique of stellar photography - enabled the women to make extraordinary discoveries that attracted worldwide acclaim. They helped discern what stars were made of, divided the stars into meaningful categories for further research, and found a way to measure distances across space by starlight.
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$17
71708
Uglow, Jenny
The Lunar Men The Friends Who Made the Future, 1730-1810
Faber and Faber Ltd., London, 2002.
First edition. Octavo; hardcover, 588pp., with 16pp. of full-colour and monochrome plates and many monochrome illustrations. Minor wear; lightly dusted text block top edge. Dustwrapper lightly edgeworn. Near fine. In the 1760s a group of amateur experimenters met and made friends in the Midlands. Most came from poor families, all lived far from the centre of things, but they were young and their optimism was boundless: together they would change the world. Among them were the ambitious toy-maker Matthew Boulton and his partner James Watt, of steam-engine fame; the potter Josiah Wedgwood; Erasmus Darwin, physician, poet, inventor and theorist of evolution (forerunner of his grandson Charles). With a small band of allies, including the exuberant followers of Rousseau, Richard Lovell Edgeworth and Thomas Day, they formed the Lunar Society of Birmingham (so called because it met at each full moon). Blending science, art and commerce the Lunar Men built canals, launched balloons, named plants, gases and minerals, changed the face of England and the china in its drawing rooms and plotted to revolutionise its soul. Jenny Uglow's vivid, exhilarating account uncovers the political passions, love affairs, friendships, and love of knowledge and power that drove these extraordinary men. It echoes to the thud of pistons and the wheeze and snort of engines, and brings to life the tradesmen, artisans and tycoons who shaped and fired the modern age.
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$30
212390
Wesson, Rob
Darwin's First Theory Exploring Darwin's Quest to Find a Theory of the Earth
Pegasus Books Ltd., New York NY, 2017.
Octavo; hardcover, quarter-bound in papered boards with endpaper maps; 457pp., with maps and diagrams and 32pp. of full-colour plates. Dustwrapper. Remainder. New. Everybody knows - or thinks they know - Charles Darwin, the father of evolution and the man who altered the way we view our place in the world. But what most people do not know is that Darwin was on board the HMS Beagle as a geologist - on a mission to examine the land, not flora and fauna. Retracing Darwin's footsteps in South America and beyond, geologist Rob Wesson treks across the Andes, cruises waters charted by the Beagle, hunts for fossils in Uruguay and Argentina, and explores sites of long vanished glaciers in Scotland and Wales. As he follows Darwin's path - literally and intellectually - Wesson experiences the land as Darwin did, engages with his observations, and tackles the same questions Darwin had about our ever-changing Earth. Upon his return from his five-year journey aboard the Beagle, after examining the effects of earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and more, Darwin conceived his theory of subsidence and uplift - his first theory. These concepts and attitudes - the vastness of time; the enormous cumulative impact of almost imperceptibly slow change; change as a constant feature of the environment - underlie Darwin's subsequent discoveries in evolution. And this peculiar way of thinking remains vitally important today as we enter the human-dominated Anthropocene age. Expertly interweaving science and adventure, Darwin's First Theory is a riveting and revelatory journey around the world with one of the greatest scientific minds in history.
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$25
72491
White, Mary E.
After the Greening The Browning of Australia
Kangaroo Press, Kenthurst NSW, 1997.
Quarto; hardcover with gilt spine titling; 288pp., with many colour illustrations and monochrome diagrams. Minor wear; mild wear to lower board edges and corners; one or two spots on upper text block edges. Dustwrapper now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film. Very good to near fine. This is an illustrated botanical and geological history of Australia over the last two hundred million years. In some detail it traces the history of specific plant taxa and geological formations. The author takes a multi-disciplinary approach, though herself a paleobotanist, always keeping the broader historical and ecological context in view. There is a good selection of maps and diagrams, a glossary with informative and well-integrated photography. White surveys the major vegetation types of Australia from the domination of Eucalyptus and Acaciato remnant Gondwanan rainforests and wet sclerophyll forests and coastal heathlands. She also analyses some of the key factors influencing the landscape and vegetation: the flood and drought cycles of El Nino/ENSO, changing fire regimes, salt and salination, and the impact of the Aboriginal people with their 'fire-stick' farming profoundly altering the nature of vegetation over the continent. Not to mention the devastating impact of European settlement.
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$140
33849
White, Michael & John Gribbin
Stephen Hawking A Life in Science
Viking/Penguin Books Ltd., Ringwood Vic., 1992.
Reprint. Octavo; hardcover, with silver-gilt spine titles; 304pp. Binding slightly rolled; spotted text block edges. Dustwrapper mildly rubbed (now professionally protected by superior non-adhesive polypropylene film). Else very good. Hawking certainly would have been remarkable for his cutting edge work in theoretical physics alone. However, he has also managed to popularize science in a way unparalleled by other scientists of his stature. He became a household name, achieving almost cult-like fame, with the release of his best-selling book, "A Brief History of Time". Although steeped in the potentially overwhelming complexities of cosmology, he succeeded in selling millions of copies to audiences eager to learn just some of what he had to offer. Science writers White and Gribbin have skillfully painted a portrait of an indefatigable genius and a scientific mind that seemingly knew no bounds. Knitting together clear explanations of Hawking's science with a detailed personal history that is both balanced as well as sensitive, we come to know and appreciate both.
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