Miss Leavitt's Stars

Miss Leavitt's Stars

The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe

Book - 2005 | 1st ed
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WW Norton
How big is the universe? In the early twentieth century, scientists took sides. One held that the entire universe was contained in the Milky Way galaxy. Their champion was the strong-willed astronomer Harlow Shapley. Another camp believed that the universe was so vast that the Milky Way was just one galaxy among billions—the view that would prevail, proven by the equally headstrong Edwin Hubble.Almost forgotten is the Harvard Observatory "computer"—a human number cruncher hired to calculate the positions and luminosities of stars in astronomical photographs—who found the key to the mystery. Radcliffe-educated Henrietta Swan Leavitt, fighting ill health and progressive deafness, stumbled upon a new law that allowed astronomers to use variable stars—those whose brightness rhythmically changes—as a cosmic yardstick. Miss Leavitt's Stars is both a masterly account of how we measure the universe and the moving story of a neglected genius

Baker & Taylor
Recounts the story of Radcliffe-educated Henrietta Swan Leavitt, who in the face of ill health and progressing hearing loss discovered a new law that enabled astronomers to use variable stars in order to measure the universe.

Norton Pub
A forgotten heroine of science and how she solved one of the crucial mysteries of the universe.
How big is the universe? In the early twentieth century, scientists took sides. One held that the entire universe was contained in the Milky Way galaxy. Their champion was the strong-willed astronomer Harlow Shapley. Another camp believed that the universe was so vast that the Milky Way was just one galaxy among billions—the view that would prevail, proven by the equally headstrong Edwin Hubble.Almost forgotten is the Harvard Observatory "computer"—a human number cruncher hired to calculate the positions and luminosities of stars in astronomical photographs—who found the key to the mystery. Radcliffe-educated Henrietta Swan Leavitt, fighting ill health and progressive deafness, stumbled upon a new law that allowed astronomers to use variable stars—those whose brightness rhythmically changes—as a cosmic yardstick. Miss Leavitt's Stars is both a masterly account of how we measure the universe and the moving story of a neglected genius

Book News
In this biography, Johnson recounts the life and career of Henrietta Leavitt (1868-1921), who discovered a way to measure distance while working at Harvard Observatory, where her job was to compute the amount of stars in the sky at a time when women were relegated to assistant positions. He describes how she studied variables--stars that changed in brightness--to come up with her law, and how later scientists used it. Johnson is a science reporter for the New York Times. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Baker
& Taylor

Recounts the story of Radcliffe-educated Henrietta Swan Leavitt, who in the face of ill health and progressing hearing loss discovered a new law that enabled astronomers to use variable stars in order to measure the universe, a finding that solved a key scientific mystery and enabled important breakthroughs. 30,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, c2005
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 0393051285
Branch Call Number: 522.0904 JOH
Characteristics: xiv, 162 p. : ill. ; 21 cm

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johnsankey
Dec 07, 2010

a truthful description of the way science progresses, by curiosity followed by measurement followed by over-reach then consolidation, then over-reach again ..., always guided by a fundamental faith in the universality of physical laws, always distorted, often delayed, by the human failings of the scientists involved.

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