The Sky at Einstein's Feet

Front Cover
Springer, 2006 - Science - 246 pages
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The insights of relativity have illuminated a century of astronomical discovery, often going beyond the phenomena that Einstein lived to see. This book shows, in nonmathematical ways, how deeply these ways of viewing the Universe have informed our interpretations of it, and how many of the amazing discoveries of these decades have made sense only as part of Einstein's universe. The author brings together the ways in which we see the bizarre effects of relativity played out on a cosmic scale. None of this is particularly new to practicing astronomers, but much has yet to be seen outside technical journals. The presentation avoids mathematics (except for the most famous equation in all of physics!), and is designed to be accessible to the interested public. Gravitational lenses, the visible effects of light-travel delays, the search for black holes, the ways relativity in atomic nuclei makes stars shine, are all treated. In many cases, some of the principals are still alive and provided new commentary on the discoveries. Numerous illustrations are newly produced from data in the archives of such observatories as Hubble and Chandra.

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About the author (2006)

Bill Keel, the author of The Road to Galaxy Formation (Springer-Praxis 2002), has been involved in many areas of extragalactic astronomy, and for the last 18 years has worked at the University of Alabama. Of particular relevance to this book is his study of gravitational lensing since 1980, early calculations on microlensing of quasars, and an ongoing Hubble survey for gravitational lensing effects in silhouetted galaxies as a constraint on massive dark-matter candidates. His experience in serving on 16 NASA review committees for various space-astrophysics missions and higher-level programmatic issues has broadened his view of relativity in astronomy triggering the idea for this book.