Miss Leavitt's stars : the untold story of the woman who discovered how to measure the universe / George Johnson
Books/Textual Material | Atlas Books/W.W. Norton & Company | 2005 | 1st ed.
Available at Gumberg 2nd Floor (QB807 .J64 2005)
New York : Atlas Books/W.W. Norton & Company, 
xiv, 162 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm.
text txt rdacontent.
unmediated n rdamedia.
volume nc rdacarrier.
Includes bibliographical references (pages 149-150) and index.
Prologue : the village in the canyon -- Black stars, white nights -- Hunting for variables -- Henrietta's law -- Triangles -- Shapley's ants -- The late, great Milky Way -- In the realm of the nebulae -- The mysterious K -- The cosmic stampede -- Ghost stories -- Epilogue : fire on the mountain.
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. This book is both an account of how we measure the universe, and the moving story of a neglected genius.--From publisher description.
050131s2005 nyua b 001 0deng cam4i
(OCoLC)57557429 (OCoLC)70142790 (OCoLC)911784775
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Richard King Mellon Foundation cop.1