Cosmic Discovery: The Search, Scope, and Heritage of Astronomy
In the remarkable opening section of this book, a well-known Cornell astronomer gives precise thumbnail histories of the 43 basic cosmic discoveries - stars, planets, novae, pulsars, comets, gamma-ray bursts, and the like - that form the core of our knowledge of the universe. Many of them, he points out, were made accidentally and outside the mainstream of astronomical research and funding. This observation leads him to speculate on how many more major phenomena there might be and how they might be most effectively sought out in afield now dominated by large instruments and complex investigative modes and observational conditions.
The book also examines discovery in terms of its political, financial, and sociological context - the role of new technologies and of industry and the military in revealing new knowledge; and methods of funding, of peer review, and of allotting time on our largest telescopes. It concludes with specific recommendations for organizing astronomy in ways that will best lead to the discovery of the many - at least sixty - phenomena that Harwit estimates are still waiting to be found.
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