Coming of age in the Milky Way

by Timothy Ferris

Paperback, 1988




New York : Anchor Books, 1989, c1988.


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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member robertsgirl
Marvelous book about our history, expanding theories and still the mystery of it all. Great science author
LibraryThing member kencf0618
A lovely coming-of-age story writ large. Very large!
LibraryThing member sturlington
This fascinating and very readable history of physics takes the read step-by-step through the great discoveries about the universe we live in. The book is divided into three sections. I was right with the author all through Space, got a little lost in Time, and then was quite overcome by Creation.
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No matter. Ferris's style is accessible for the non-scientist reader, but he doesn't talk down either.

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.
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LibraryThing member neurodrew
A popular science book of astronomy and cosmology. I am recalling my reading of it from 25 years ago, remembering thoroughly enjoying the lucid prose. The annotated bibliography is huge, widely ranging in history and science, and I wonder if all those books were read, or mined for quotations.
LibraryThing member bexaplex
Ferris is such an excellent science writer. His history is rife with the personal anecdotes that make history fun, and his science is competently explained. Presenting physics theories alongside their history and associated experiments makes them much more understandable.
LibraryThing member rakerman
A comprehensive overview of how we came to understand the cosmos, with an emphasis on the personalities involved.
LibraryThing member mybucketlistofbooks
Just read this again after having read it the first time about 20 years ago. It really is a beautiful book that hasn't lost any of its relevance even with 20 years of additional discovery (which it deals with in an afterwards).

It tells the story of the Universe while also telling the story of
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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!
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LibraryThing member bkinetic
This book is breathtaking in its historical scope, research, and in the author's ability to explain complex concepts in astronomy and physics to those of us without advanced degrees in those fields. On top of all that Ferris is a superb writer.
LibraryThing member ritaer
history of astronomy, astro-physics and nuclear physics



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