Miss Leavitt's Stars by George Johnson
The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe (Great Discoveries)

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Synopsis

“A short, excellent account of [Leavitt’s] extraordinary life and achievements.”—Simon Singh, New York Times Book Review


At the beginning of the twentieth century, scientists argued over the size of the universe: was it, as the astronomer Harlow Shapley argued, the size of the Milky Way, or was there more truth to Edwin Hubble’s claim that our own galaxy is just one among billions?



The answer to the controversy—a “yardstick” suitable for measuring the cosmos—was discovered by Henrietta Swan Leavitt, who was employed by the Harvard Observatory as a number cruncher, at a wage not dissimilar from that of workers in the nearby textile mills. Miss Leavitt’s Stars uncovers her neglected history, and brings a fascinating and turbulent period of astronomical history to life.
 

About George Johnson

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George Johnson was born in 1952, in Fayetteville, Ark. He has worked for newspapers in Albuquerque, N.Mex. and Minneapolis, Minn., and is a science writer for the New York Times. His first book, Architects of Fear: Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia in American Politics (1984), won a special achievement award in nonfiction from the Los Angeles chapter of International PEN. Many of Johnson's other books evidence thoughtful, spiritual examinations of the relation between man and science. Fire in the Mind: Science, Faith and the Search for Order (1995) is about the diversity of ideas in New Mexico. Johnson draws parallels between Los Alamos and the worshipful view of scientific discovery and the high desert, a sacred place for the Tewa Indians and Hermanos Penitentes.
 
Published June 17, 2006 by W. W. Norton & Company. 176 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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The New York Times

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George Johnson has written an account of the life and achievements of Henrietta Leavitt, whose research transformed astronomy in the early 20th century.

Jun 19 2005 | Read Full Review of Miss Leavitt's Stars: The Unt...

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