Time. Gravity. Night. So much of what surrounds us feels familiar and mundane. But each is a wonder that reveals profound insights into the world around us.
C. Renee James's whimsical tour of seven everyday experiences-night, light, stuff, gravity, time, home, and wonder-opens the Universe to fantastical contemplation. Light? Although we need it to see, there's much more to it than meets the eye. Stuff? When it comes down to it, things are almost entirely empty space-99.9% nothing-especially when you get to the atomic level. Home? James's contemplation of our place in the Universe shows that it's not just a place to hang your hat-and that there's really nothing else like it.
James introduces each of these seven wonders with a simple question that appears to be easily answered. The questions are deceptive, though-as is James's casual, light-hearted style. Underneath lie such concepts as relativity, matter and antimatter, and the electromagnetic spectrum. Her accessible discussion uses common analogies and entertaining illustrations to provide a bundle of detail on historical discoveries and to provoke serious pondering.
Fun and edifying, Seven Wonders of the Universe That You Probably Took for Granted is an inviting introduction to secret knowledge of our everyday world. This book may be 99.9% nothing, but the thoughts it will inspire are massive.
C. Renee James is an associate professor of physics at Sam Houston State University. An accomplished scholarly writer, her popular science essays have been published in Sky & Telescope, Astronomy, Current Science, and Mercury.
PrefaceAcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Nights1.1. Of Snowballs and Ice-Skaters1.2. Putting the Brakes On1.3. Why Is Space Dark? Answer #1: Location, Location, Location1.4. Why Is Space Dark? Answer #2: Because1.5. Why Is Space Dark? Answer #3: Actually It Isn'tSmall Wonder: Day and Night on MercurySmall Wonder: Keeping the Night Sky Dark2. Light2.1. Codebreaking Basics2.2. The Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder CD2.3. More Than Meets the Eye2.4. Evading the Question2.5. Making Light of the UniverseSmall Wonder: Why Is the Sky Blue? And Why Are Sunsets Red?Small Wonder: The Early Universe-A Made-for-TV Movie!3. Stuff3.1. It's Element-ary3.2. Element Factories3.3. In the Beginning...3.4. Making Light of Evil Twins3.5. The Good Guys Always Win... But Why?Small Wonder: What Are You Really Made Of?4. Gravity4.1. A Penny for Your Thoughts?4.2. Earth, the 6 Trillion Trillion Kilogram Weakling4.3. Of Apples and Orbits and Confused Astronauts4.4. But Wait... There's More!4.5. Surprise! Gravity Isn't a Force!Small Wonder: How to Lose Weight and Keep It Off, Guaranteed!5. Time5.1. Got a Second?5.2. Time in a Bottle-or in a Black Hole5.3. A One-Way Ticket to Disorder5.4. Time: The Grand Illusion?Small Wonder: So What Causes Daylight Saving Time to Happen?Small Wonder: Why Are There Seven Days in a Week?Small Wonder: What Would Happen if You Fell into a Black Hole?6. Home6.1. Goldilocks and the Three Planets6.2. Goldilocks and the Three Stars6.3. Goldilocks in Suburbia, Traffic, and Time6.4. Why Goldilocks Could Never Have Been a Successful Real Estate AgentSmall Wonder: Looking for a Home Away from HomeSmall Wonder: Do Aliens Exist?Small Wonder: No, Really. Do Aliens Exist?Small Wonder: Wanted-Alien Hunters7. Wonder7.1. Life-The Ultimate Eating Machine7.2. There's More to Life Than Eating7.3. It's All in Your Head... Maybe7.4. It's a Wonder-Full LifeSmall Wonder: Small WondersAfterwordFor Further ReadingIndex