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Einstein's Unfinished Symphony: Listening To The Sounds Of Space-time
by Marcia Bartusiak
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From Publishers Weekly
Einstein is hot this year; not only has his brain traveled cross-country but his personal and scientific lives are being explored in depth. Gravity waves aren't as well known as the more familiar theory of E=mc2 (which is getting its own book this season, see Forecasts, Sept. 18), but cross-promotion of related titles will boost sales of this graceful little book about the mysterious subject. Those waves are the only form of radiation predicted by Einstein's theory of relativity that remain undetected (a gravity wave is created by the movement of an object; it is not the same as gravitational attraction). Unlike a wave of light, which moves through a medium, space-time, a gravity wave is similar to a wave in water, which is movement of the medium; however, a wave on a pond will go around you as you sit in a fishing boat, whereas a gravity wave will go through an astronaut in a spaceship as easily as it will pass through a star. Scientists predict the only gravity waves we will be able to detect at first are those from such galaxy-shaking events as supernova explosions or the collisions of binary neutron stars, but once gravity waves are graphed and analyzed, we should be able to confirm the existence of black holes, explore time back to the threshold of the big bang, and accurately map the dimensions of the universe. Today kilometers-long interferometer detectors are going online in Washington and Louisiana to detect gravity waves. Tomorrow scientists hope to have a space-based observatory tagging along behind Earth as it orbits the sun. Bartusiak (Thursday's Universe) has been writing about gravity waves for more than a decade, and her familiarity with the search and the scientists involved results in a thorough, engrossing and valuable chronicle.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
John Gribben, The Washington Post Book World, Nov. & Dec. 2000, RAVE SELECTION FOR 2000
"... Einstein's Unfinished Symphony is her best [book] yet....a ringside seat at what is likely to be the next great revolution in astronomy."
Delightful and clearly written.
Delightful and clearly written. (Science)
Discover, November 2000
"Bartusiak excitingly relates the hunt for proof of the gravity waves predicted by Einstein."
Best Sci-Tech Books of 2000
U.S. News & World Report, Nov. 6, 2000, TOP PICK OF THE WEEK, 2000
"Einstein predicted that gravitational waves exist...If found, the waves will be audible: Scientists could listen to a collapsing star."
Robert Matthews, New Scientist
"Bartusiak...gives a sense of the ebb and flow of confidence among scientists trying to hunt down gravitational waves."
In a handful of observatories around the world, scientists are waiting, and listening. Their quest: to be the first to detect gravitational waves, infinitesimal quakes that stretch and compress space-time and could add a brand-new dimension to our universal knowledge-allowing us to hear a sun going supernova, black holes colliding, and perhaps one day, the remnant rumble of the Big Bang itself...
Uses the metaphor of music to describe the science of gravity waves, a major part of the work of Albert Einstein. Allows scientists and astronomers to see the rhythms of the universe, seeing space time in a whole new way. Uses lyrical language to describe how gravity waves surge through the cosmos at the speed of light. DLC: Space and time.
From the Publisher
Marcia Bartusiak won the 2001 American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award for her book, Einstein's Unfinished Symphony
About the Author
Marcia Bartusiak, a former MIT Knight Fellow, is the author of two previous books, Thursday's Universe and Through a Universe Darkly, both of which were named Notable Books by the New York Times. The first woman to receive the presitigious Science Writing Award from the American Institute of Physics, she has also taught science journalism at Boston University.
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