From the second-century celestial models of Ptolemy to modern-day research institutes and quantum theory, this classic book offers a breathtaking tour of astronomy and the brilliant, eccentric personalities who have shaped it. From the first time mankind had an inkling of the vast space that surrounds us, those who study the universe have had to struggle against political and religious preconceptions. They have included some of the most charismatic, courageous, and idiosyncratic thinkers of all time. In Coming of Age in the Milky Way, Timothy Ferris uses his unique blend of rigorous research and captivating narrative skill to draw us into the lives and minds of these extraordinary figures, creating a landmark work of scientific history.
I particularly enjoyed getting to know the great thinkers of human history: Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein. Ferris sprinkles his narrative with personal anecdotes that give these geniuses personality. But he keeps pulling the reader onward, from the earliest conceptions of the universe as a closed system, the stars a ceiling just over our heads, to the vast reaches of time and space that we now know the universe to contain, to the mind-warping properties of the sub-molecular universe and the early moments following the Big Bang. I won't claim to have understood it all, but I found it all fascinating, and would recommend this book to anyone who looks out at the night sky and longs to understand what she sees.
It tells the story of the Universe while also telling the story of telling the story of the Universe, from the first decipherable cave paintings to up to date discoveries in the field of particle physics - all in a way that can be understood by folks like me that have an interest in science and discovery but have no aptitude for it!