Archives

Review: ‘Earth’, by Jeffrey Jerome Cohen and Linda T. Elkins-Tanton

                                                                 Publication Date: 9th May 2017

Published by: Bloomsbury Academic  

Edition: Paperback

I.S.B.N.: 9781501317910 

Price: $14.95

 

Blurb:

Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.

In Earth, a planetary scientist and a literary humanist explore what happens when we think of the Earth as an object viewable from space. As a “blue marble,” “a blue pale dot,” or, as Chaucer described it, “this litel spot of erthe,” the solitary orb is a challenge to scale and to human self-importance. Beautiful and self-contained, the Earth turns out to be far less knowable than it at first appears: its vast interior an inferno of incandescent and yet solid rock and a reservoir of water vaster than the ocean, a world within the world. Viewing the Earth from space invites a dive into the abyss of scale: how can humans apprehend the distances, the temperatures, and the time scale on which planets are born, evolve, and die?

Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.

Continue reading

Review: The Radium Girls, by Kate Moore

Published by: Sourcebooks

Publication date: 1st May 2017

I.S.B.N.: 9781492649359

Format: Hardback

Price: £20.89

Blurb

The incredible true story of the young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium and their brave struggle for justice…

As World War I raged across the globe, hundreds of young women toiled away at the radium-dial factories, where they painted clock faces with a mysterious new substance called radium. Assured by their bosses that the luminous material was safe, the women themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered from head to toe with the glowing dust. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” were considered the luckiest alive—until they began to fall mysteriously ill. As the fatal poison of the radium took hold, they found themselves embroiled in one of America’s biggest scandals and a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights.

A rich, historical narrative written in a sparkling voice, The Radium Girls is the first book that fully explores the strength of extraordinary women in the face of almost impossible circumstances and the astonishing legacy they left behind. 

Kate Moore is a Sunday Times best selling writer with more than a decade’s experience writing and ghosting across varying genres, including memoir, biography, and history. In 2005 she directed a critically acclaimed play about the Radium Girls called ‘These Shining Lives.’ She lives in the UK.


My Review

What an absolutely fascinating story! 

I’ve heard of the Radium Girls, women who worked painting dials for various companies in the U.S. who were killed by the radium they were injesting and the callousness of the companies they worked for. This book provides the human stories of the women, their suffering and their battle for justice, utilising letters, photo albums, the memories of family and friends and documentation such as newspapers and legal papers. The story of these women is inspiring and the author does an excellent job of telling it.

I may have cried somewhat.

Definitely recommended.





Review: Eyes on the sky by Francis Graham-Smith



Published by: Oxford University Press

Publication date: 23rd August 2016

I.S.B.N. 9780198734277

Blurb

Four centuries ago, Galileo first turned a telescope to look up at the night sky. His discoveries opened the cosmos, revealing the geometry and dynamics of the solar system. Today’s telescopic equipment, stretching over the whole spectrum from visible light to radio and millimetre astronomy, through infrared to ultravioletX-rays and gamma rays, has again transformed our understanding of the whole Universe.

In this book Francis Graham-Smith explains how this technology can be engaged to give us a more in-depth picture of the nature of the universe. Looking at both ground-based telescopes and telescopes on spacecraft, he analyses their major discoveries, from planets and pulsars to cosmology. Large research teams and massive data handling are necessary, but the excitement of discovery is increasingly shared by a growing public, who can even join in some of the analysis by remote computer techniques. Observational astronomy has become international. All major projects are now partnerships; most notably the Square Kilometre Array, which will involve astronomers from over 100 countries and will physically exist in several of them. Covering the history and development of telescopes from Galileo to the present day, Eyes on the Sky traces what happens when humankind looks up.


My Review

As regular readers will know, this is the second book this year that I’ve read about the history of telescopes (the first being Mapping the Heavens)  and I think the difference between them is one of degree. Eye’s on the sky is aimed at a more popular market but is still in-depth enough for the more knowledgeable reader. The focus is also slightly different, as a more specialised area – the development of full spectrum instruments rather than the full history of astronomy – is covered.

The book is fully illustrated and with a comprehensive ‘Notes’ section, for further reading. This is an easy to read book which follows a chronological and wavelength order. I really recommend it to astronomy enthusiasts.

4/5