Flash!: The Hunt for the Biggest Explosions in the Universe

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Cambridge University Press, Apr 18, 2002 - Nature - 291 pages
2 Reviews
About three times a day our sky flashes with a powerful pulse of gamma ray bursts (GRB), invisible to human eyes but not to astronomers' instruments. The sources of this intense radiation are likely to be emitting, within the span of seconds or minutes, more energy than the sun will in its entire 10 billion years of life. Where these bursts originate, and how they come to have such incredible energies, is a mystery scientists have been trying to solve for three decades. The phenomenon has resisted study -- the flashes come from random directions in space and vanish without trace -- until very recently. In what could be called a cinematic conflation of Flash Gordon and The Hunt for Red October, Govert Schilling's Flash!: The Hunt for the Biggest Explosions in the Universe describes the exciting and ever-changing field of GRB research. Based on interviews with leading scientists, Flash! provides an insider's account of the scientific challenges involved in unravelling the enigmatic nature of GRBs. A science writer who has followed the drama from the very start, Schilling describes the ambition and jealousy, collegiality and competition, triumph and tragedy, that exists among those who have embarked on this recherche. Govert Schilling is a Dutch science writer and astronomy publicist. He is a contributing editor of Sky and Telescope magazine, and regularly writes for the news sections of Science and New Scientist. Schilling is the astronomy writer for de Volkskrant, one of the largest national daily newspapers in The Netherlands, and frequently talks about the Universe on Dutch radio broadcasts. He is the author of more than twenty popular astronomy books, and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles on astronomy.

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Review: Flash! the Hunt for the Biggest Explosions in the Universe

User Review  - Adrian Griffis - Goodreads

This book tells a scientific detective story. It shows the disagreements between scientists about a phenomenon they didn't fully understand, and the effects of injecting additional data, piece by piece, into scientific debate. Read full review

Review: Flash! the Hunt for the Biggest Explosions in the Universe

User Review  - Adam - Goodreads

The history of astronomer's quests to figure out the origin and cause of Gamma Ray Bursts, the most powerful explosions in the universe since the Big Bang. Read full review


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First among equals
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Thinking with the speed of light
Competition for the big bang
Alchemists of the cosmos
The magnetar attraction
The Argus eyes of Livermore
Fireworks and black holes
A flashing future
War and peace

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About the author (2002)

Govert Schilling is an internationally acclaimed astronomy journalist and writer. He is a regular contributor to "New Scientist, ""Sky & Telescope", and "Sky at Night". In 2007, asteroid 10986 was named Govert in his honor by the International Astronomical Union. He lives in Amersfoort, the Netherlands.

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