Einstein's Unfinished Symphony: The Story of a Gamble, Two Black Holes, and a New Age of Astronomy (New Edition)
Excerpt at Amazon
Softcover, Yale University Press, June 2017
Original Edition Winner of the 2001 American Institute of Physics Science Writing Prize
New York Times "Notable Book"
An updated classic that recounts the long hunt for Einstein's predicted gravitational waves—and now celebrates their recent discovery.
Astronomers have verified the last measurable prediction of Einstein's general theory of relativity—vibrations in space-time. Converted to sound, these waves become a cosmic orchestra, allowing us to hear exploding stars, colliding black holes, rotating pulsars, and possibly even echoes from the Big Bang itself. Marcia Bartusiak chronicles the quest to build the world's most sensitive listening device, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), and its historic detection of gravitational waves, revealing the brilliance, personalities, and luck required to start a new age of astronomy.
Black Hole: How an Idea Abandoned by Newtonians, Hated by Einstein,
The Day We Found the Universe
Excerpt at Amazon
Hardcover, Pantheon Books, 2009
Softcover, Vintage Books, 2010
Winner of the History of Science Society's 2010 Davis Prize for best book for a general audience
Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Prize for science & technology
One of the Best Books of All-Time About Outer Space, bookscrolling.com
One of the Greatest Popular Science Books, Open Education Database
A dramatic narrative of the discovery of the true nature and startling size of the universe, delving back past the moment of revelation to trace the decades of work—by a select group of scientists—that made it possible. Here is the watershed moment in our cosmic history, splendidly arising from the exceptional combination of human curiosity, intelligence, and enterprise.
On January 1, 1925, thirty-five-year-old Edwin Hubble announced findings that ultimately established that our universe was a thousand trillion times larger than previously believed, filled with myriad galaxies like our own. It was a realization that reshaped how humans understood their place in the cosmos. Six years later, continuing research by Hubble and others forced Albert Einstein to renounce his own cosmic model and finally accept the astonishing fact that the universe was not immobile but instead expanding. The story of these interwoven discoveries includes battles of will, clever insights, and wrong turns made by the early investigators in this great twentieth-century pursuit, from the luminaries (Einstein, Hubble, Harlow Shapley) to the lesser known: Henrietta Leavitt, who discovered the means to measure the vast dimensions of the cosmos…Vesto Slipher, the first and unheralded discoverer of the universe’s expansion... Georges Lemaître, the Jesuit priest who correctly interpreted Einstein’s theories in relation to the universe…Milton Humason, who, with only an eighth-grade education, became a world-renowned expert on galaxy motions...and others.
• “Bartusiak's intelligent and engaging book may well become the standard popular account."
Joel Achenbach, Washington Post
• "…delivered with wit, clarity and occasional drama, Marcia Bartusiak's The Day We Found the Universe is a small wonder….A science writer of rare gifts…Bartusiak manages to convey the mind-bending complexity of the astronomers' task and the scope of the work while never losing sight of the human elements (fame, ego, pioneer spirit, competitive drive) that drive the pursuit."
Ben Cosgrove, San Francisco Chronicle
• "The Day We Found the Universe is an energetic, thoughtful, and original guide to that pivotal point in the history of cosmology. Bartusiak has perfect pitch in telling the story of that scientific discovery. Her deft biographical sketches breathe life into a large cast of characters who are normally skipped over in [textbooks]....It involves competition, cooperation, friendship, jealousy, loyalty, vanity, insight, missed opportunities, technical genius, and startling success...."
Harvard astronomer Robert Kirshner, Physics Today
• "…this tale is not about breakthroughs. It focuses on the dramatic insights, sidesteps and missed opportunities, persistence, pride and bits of luck that accompany the scientific process….Bartusiak's account never gets boring and never feels anticlimactic. Instead, moments of drama and intimacy make the reader forget…the final outcome: the Milky Way is merely one of many stellar collections in a vast universe."
Elizabeth Quill, Science News
• “Bartusiak vividly tells the story behind the discovery that changed our cozy view of the universe….From the women ‘computers’ who analyzed stellar photographs for Harvard to Mars-mad Percival Lowell, Bartusiak reveals the vibrant beginnings of modern astronomy, along with all the dreams and fears, rivalries and triumphs, of those involved.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
• “Hardly a year passes without one paradigm shift or another in astronomy. But this progress pales in comparison to a brief period last century, the 1920s, when Edwin Hubble and others showed that the universe is not a placid place with our solar system at its center, but rather is an ever-expanding vastness of countless galaxies. With her trademark mix of meticulous research and vibrant prose, Bartusiak weaves these discoveries into a narrative equal to the excitement of that convulsive decade.”
• “Bartusiak lovingly and meticulously traces the origins and development of a big idea....Her enjoyable book is an exhaustively researched exploration of both major and minor players....The International Astronomical Union and the United Nations declared this year the ‘International Year of Astronomy,’...Bartusiak's book would be a great way to celebrate."
Stephen Ornes, New Haven Review
• “Peopled with a fascinating cast of characters...The Day We Found the Universe is a scientific thriller that brings to life the many scientists who laid the foundation for Hubble's groundbreaking accomplishments....A great read, for anyone who enjoys a compelling yarn."
Robert Scott, Montreal Gazette
• "Details regarding countless personalities...the interplay between them and the times in which they worked, make this story satisfying for anyone who wants to learn how science has uncovered...an almost unimaginably vast geography of the heavens."
Rich Heffern, National Catholic Reporter
• “[A] fascinating and accessible book...”
Barbara Fisher, Boston Globe
• "Bartusiak chronicles the cosmic explorations that helped make [Edwin] Hubble a star. A journalist specializing in science, she knows how to cut to the chase. Her account is informative, dramatic, and accessible….She sings songs to unsung heroes."
Glenn Altschuler, Tulsa World
• “Bartusiak, a renowned science writer, has crafted a remarkable story of the events and people leading to our awakening comprehension of the larger universe. [She] presents figures…with the skill of a novelist; their personalities transcend the page. This book will appeal to a wide readership….”
Margaret F. Dominy, Library Journal
• “Bartusiak explores the technical aspects of Hubble’s findings in an accessible way and skillfully profiles the many researchers who helped lay the groundwork for Hubble’s momentous discovery….The author ably rescues these neglected figures from historical obscurity…bringing many of the scientists to vivid life….A dynamic journey through an important period in the history of astronomy.”
• “Meticulously researched book….Of the many figures involved, only the dashing American astronomer Edwin Hubble became a household name….A host of others played equally important roles, including Heber Curtis, Vesto Slipher, Milton Humason, and Hubble’s arch-rival Harlow Shapley, all of whom have faded into relative obscurity. This highly readable book will go some way towards giving these overlooked figures the recognition they deserve.”
Dan Falk, New Scientist
• “[An] engaging narrative about a major advance in astronomy—the discovery of what galaxies are….Through character sketches and technical explanations, Bartusiak illuminates the [researchers’] biographies and their contributions to solving the mystery of the spiral nebulae, as galaxies were then termed….Bartusiak produces a lively account of how science learned of the immensity of the universe.
Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
• "Excellent work, based on an extensive study of documents in a number of archives....Highly recommended."
NRAO Astronomer D. E. Hogg, Choice
• “This is a superb book.”
Dennis Cheek, Science Books & Film
• “As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of America's moon landing, it's important to remember the contributions of all it took to get us there....Marcia Bartusiak's The Day We Found the Universe is a perfect way to get schooled....A true-life narrative digging deep into the worlds far beyond our own."
Rod Lott, Bookgasm.com
• "One of our most thrilling science writers has captured the excitement of the amazing years at the beginning of the twentieth century, when we truly discovered our universe. With a great cast of astronomers and physicists, this book is a cosmic delight."
Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe
• "We live in an expanding universe, and our Milky Way is just one of billions of galaxies—now-standard facts established in the 1920s and 1930s. Bartusiak gives a vivid impression of what it was like at that time to be an astronomer leading these cosmic explorations. A scholarly and highly readable book."
Martin Rees, Great Britain's Astronomer Royal and professor of astrophysics at Cambridge University
• "Astrophysicists remember the 1920s as the birth of modern cosmology—a time rich with colorful characters and stunning revelations of our place in the universe. Bartusiak brings this explosive period of cosmic discovery to life."
Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, American Museum of Natural History
• "A brilliant look back into the history of science. This vibrant book opens a door to a far-off time and place, and brings that place to life for us."
David H. Levy, president, National Sharing the Sky Foundation
Archives of the Universe: A Treasury of Astronomy's Historic Works of Discovery
Excerpt at Amazon
Hardcover, Pantheon Books, 2004
Softcover, Vintage Books, 2006
Named an Outstanding Academic Title by the American Library Association
Used in History of Astronomy courses across the country.
An unparalleled history of astronomy told through 100 primary documents—from the Maya’s first recorded efforts to predict the cycles of Venus to the 1998 paper that posited an accelerating universe. Award-winning science writer Marcia Bartusiak is a wonderfully compelling guide in this sweeping overview. Her authoritative, accessible commentaries on each document provide historical context and underscore the more intriguing and revolutionary aspects of the discoveries. Here are records of the earliest naked-eye celestial observations and cosmic mappings; the discovery of planets; the first attempts to measure the speed of light and the distance of stars; the classification of stars; the introduction of radio and x-ray astronomy; the discovery of black holes, quasars, dark matter, the Big Bang, and much more. Here is the work of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Halley, Hubble, and Einstein, as well as that of dozens of lesser-known scientists who have significantly contributed to our picture of the universe. An enthralling, comprehensive history that spans more than two millennia—this is essential reading for professional astronomers, science history buffs, and backyard stargazers alike.
• "Galileo, Newton, Copernicus and Einstein are just a few of the dozens of scientific authorities heard in this anthology of 100 groundbreaking documents. ...the author provides a helpful road map with her lucid explanatory essays and annotation."
Scott Veale, The New York Times
• "Have you thought about being a fly on the wall at a Famous Astronomers Throughout History cocktail party? It would be a fascinating experience to hear astronomy's great thinkers explain their theories to each other and argue over the fine points. In Archives of the Universe, Marcia Bartusiak creates the literary equivalent of such a gathering, [introducing] these astronomers with deftly written, insightful commentary about their seminal astronomical writings….Bartusiak's wit and eye for the humanity of her subjects sparkles throughout the book."
Carolyn Collins Petersen, Sky & Telescope
• "Here the reader gets not only a clear and concise history of astronomy but also excerpts from many of the memorable papers written by the scientists who made the pivotal astronomical discoveries. The history comes in Bartusiak's fine introductions to the eight periods she describes and to the individual papers. The authors include such eminent figures as Ptolemy, Copernicus, Albert Einstein and Alan H. Guth."
• "A superb book describing the sweep of astronomical discovery—from 400 BCE to the end of the past century. Each of 75 very readable short chapters summarizes a major discovery—a new thought that, when explored further, revolutionized astronomy and opened new avenues for exploration."
W. E. Howard III, Choice
• "...Bartusiak tells the history of astronomy through the words of the greatest thinkers the field has known....coherent and compelling..."
• "From Aristotle's proof that the earth is a sphere, through Newton's universal law of gravity, to the recent finding that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, Archives of the Universe is a comprehensive anthology of the most important astronomical discoveries of all time....Bartusiak's ebullient prose and obvious enthusiasm make [it] a unique and accessible tour of the history of astronomy....[a] memorable guide to the stars."
Mara E. Vatz, Technology Review
• "Among the many famous authors presented here—Galileo, Einstein, Kepler, Newton, Copernicus, etc.—no voice shines through as accessibly as that of Bartusiak herself. The author...has sewn together this collection of historical reprints with an admirable number of original, explanatory essays that situate each document within a larger scientific history, clarifying each paper's importance and showing how each discovery set the foundation for the next. For serious astronomy enthusiasts, this book will surely become a well-loved resource."
• "Archives of the Universe is a must read for all students of astronomy and of the history of science."
AAAS Science Books & Films
• "...Bartusiak...brings the most important works in the history of astronomy to life in her 'Archives of the Universe.'...If you want to know how our ideas about cosmology and black holes evolved, from Aristotle's conceptions to the current conclusions about how we know that we are in an accelerating universe, this book is a wonderful place to begin."
Phi Beta Kappa Key Reporter
• "Half the fun of playing Chinese whispers is the pleasing shock of hearing what the first person actually said. That pleasure for adults is tagged 'primary sources.' Bartusiak has done astronomy a great favour.Archives of the Universe gives us the original words of 100 great thinkers, familiar and unfamiliar."
Maggie McDonald, New Scientist
• "...Bartusiak carries us along the journey of learning about the stars....She captures the essence of what was discovered in easy to follow language....Ptolemy, the Big Bang, pulsars, neutrinos and a plethora of other elements which added up to our knowledge today are dealt with in stunning sequence....A book worth keeping on the shelf of scholar and layman alike, this collection of original sources is commendable..."
John Davis, The Decatur Daily
• "[A] beautiful compendium of astronomical thoughts spreading over centuries....For astronomy aficionados [this] book will become a well-loved treasure."
The Telegraph, Calcutta, India
• "...fills [an] important niche in the history of astronomy....It does not need to be read beginning to end, but you can dip your toe in at your pleasure. Archives is another book that has taken its place on my nightstand, and will be there for some time to come."
John Rummel, Capitol Skies, Madison Astronomical Society
• "A great adventure story—the quest to fathom the cosmos. Bartusiak's incisive commentaries and the wealth of well-chosen excerpts from primary sources tell this story with authority and grace. For those who feel awestruck upon gazing at the starry night sky, this book provides a compelling link to the seekers, both past and present, whose insights have cast light into the darkness."
Brian Greene, professor of physics, Columbia University and author of The Fabric of the Cosmos
• “Archives of the Universe is a stunning compendium of scientific thought through the centuries, in the original words of the thinkers themselves, with masterful introductions by Bartusiak. This is a treasure I will keep on my own shelf forever.”
Alan Lightman, author of Einstein’s Dreams
• “Astronomy is one of the most vibrant and fast-advancing of modern sciences, but it is also a science with ancient roots. This book offers a unique chance to follow, with an expert guide, the key steps that have led to our current understanding of the cosmos. Marcia Bartusiak offers general readers a lucid commentary on a comprehensive and well-chosen anthology of scientific highlights.”
Martin Rees, professor of Astronomy at Cambridge University, and author of Our Final Hour
• "From the mouths of those who made it happen, Archives of the Universe takes the reader to the front lines of discovery-spinning the story of the evolution of the universe, and also the evolution of scientific styles. From Plato to the present day, scientists share their earliest insights into black holes and the big bang, gravity waves and curved space-time, how stars shine and the universe expands. Don't take my word for it: Take it from Brahe and Bethe, Eddington and Oppenheimer, Geller and Guth. Marcia Bartusiak is the perfect guide to this series of seminal papers, giving us a library-in-a-book that belongs on every astronomy-buff's bookshelf."
K.C. Cole, author of Mind Over Matter: Conversations with the Cosmos
• "Bartusiak is a sprightly guide to astronomy's greatest treasures. There's no dust in these Archives, except the kind discovered in the Milky Way. Across the centuries, she hears the fresh voice of original discovery. Her introductions transform this book from a shrewdly selected set of original documents into a delightful romp through the history of astronomy, right up to the twenty-first century."
Robert P. Kirshner, professor of science, Harvard University, and author of The Extravagant Universe
• "Bartusiak has taken an all-star team of astronomers and evaluated, clarified and linked their original words in a manner that thrills the astronomically oriented reader. From the ancient Greeks to the modern celestial explorers using telescopes on the ground and in space, we are treated to a World Series of scientific discovery."
Jay M. Pasachoff, professor of astronomy, Williams College, and author of A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets
Einstein's Unfinished Symphony: Listening to the Sounds of Space-Time (Original Edition)
Excerpt at Amazon
Hardcover, Joseph Henry Press, 2000
Softcover, Berkley Books, 2003
Winner of the 2001 American Institute of Physics Science Writing Prize
New York Times "Notable Book"
Washington Post Book World "Rave"
U.S. News & World Report "Top Pick"
Library Journal "Best Sci-Tech Book 2000"
A new generation of observatories, now being completed worldwide, will give astronomers not just a new window on the cosmos but a whole new sense with which to explore and experience the heavens above us. Instead of collecting light waves or radio waves, these novel instruments will allow astronomers to at last place their hands upon the fabric of space-time and feel the very rhythms of the universe.
These vibrations in space-time—or gravity waves—are the last prediction of Einstein's general theory of relativity yet to be observed directly. They are his unfinished symphony, waiting nearly a century to be heard. When they finally reveal themselves to astronomers, we will for the first time be able to hear the cymbal crashes from exploding stars, tune in to the periodic drumbeats from swiftly rotating pulsars, listen to the extended chirps from the merger of two black holes, and eavesdrop on the remnant echoes from the mighty jolt of the Big Bang itself.
When Einstein introduced general relativity in 1915, it was hailed as a momentous conceptual achievement. Einstein attained celebrity status. But, once scientists verified what they could of the theory, given the scant experiments available at the time, general relativity became largely a theoretical curiosity. Now, after decades of technological advancement, general relativity is being tested with unprecedented accuracy. It even affects our everyday lives. Satellites used by both travelers and soldiers to peg their positions require constant corrections of Einsteinian precision. Meanwhile, the first gravity-wave "telescopes" are about to come alive.
In Einstein's Unfinished Symphony, Bartusiak captures the excitement as two gravity-wave observatories in Louisiana and Washington State, as well as others in Italy, Germany, Japan, and Australia, approach operation and physicists gear up to begin their work to register the long-predicted quakes in space-time. With each chapter, Bartusiak extends her musical metaphor in tracing the story of general relativity, from the time "Maestro" Einstein enters physics, through the "Starlight Waltz" of neutron stars twisting space-time around themselves, to the "Dissonant Chords" of controversy as physicists fight to get their radically new observatories approved, through the "Finale" as a worldwide endeavor in gravity-wave astronomy is launched.
• "... Einstein's Unfinished Symphony is her best [book] yet....a gripping story about real people and real events that makes science come alive; if you want to know what happens at the cutting edge of research today, this is certainly a good place to find out.... Einstein's Unfinished Symphony gives you a ringside seat at what is likely to be the next great revolution in astronomy."
John Gribbin, The Washington Post
• "In Einstein's Unfinished Symphony, Marcia Bartusiak tells the story of a discovery waiting to be made. The cutting edge of science is not about the completely unknown. It is found where we understand just enough to ask the right questions or build the right instrument. Bartusiak, a freelance science writer for many years, tells this story in a breezy but careful style that is informative and easy to read. And, she has quite a good story to tell, even aside from the purely scientific part. When a gravity wave is first detected, the reader of this book will feel like a participant in the great event."
David Goodstein, The New York Times Book Review
• "...science writing at its best. Einstein's Unfinished Symphony is an excellent account of the struggle to detect gravitational waves....her interviews with the leading lights in the gravitational-wave community reveal that it takes huge amounts of ingenuity, optimism, and sheer pigheadedness to stay in the field."
Valerie Jamieson, The Times Higher Education Supplement
• "Einstein is hot this year ... cross-promotion of related titles will boost sales of this graceful little book about the mysterious subject. Bartusiak has been writing about gravity waves for more than a decade, and her familiarity with the search and the scientists involved results in a thorough, engrossing and valuable chronicle"
• "Bartusiak does a grand job of highlighting the challenges involved in this staggeringly demanding project [and] has a gift for apt metaphors, talking evocatively of being able to detect the 'cymbal crashes' of exploding stars, the 'drumbeat' of a swiftly spinning pulsar and the 'glissando' of two black holes merging into one another. Best of all, Bartusiak gives a sense of the ebb and flow of confidence among scientists trying to hunt down gravitational waves. Governments have handed a small group of scientists hundreds of millions of dollars to build vast devices that have only a slim chance of detecting a phenomenon we already know exists. I came away from Bartusiak's nicely judged account of this awe-inspiring project feeling that as long as researchers still devote their lives to such long shots, and governments continue to fund them, there is still hope for the scientific enterprise."
Robert Matthews, New Scientist
• "I found it harder to put down than some mystery novels....When the new field of gravitational-wave astronomy is born, you will appreciate not only the tremendous gambles in careers, taxpayer money, and engineering that went into its creation, but also the new baby's astonishing potential to change our view of the universe. This book really has no competition, nor does it need any."
E. Sterl Phinney, Sky & Telescope
• "Veteran science writer Bartusiak spins this complicated technical subject into a riveting narrative....Her clear writing and thorough understanding of the science and personalities behind her topic make her book as absorbing as any film."
• "This is epic storytelling....The narrative is direct and even understated, often resembling John McPhee at his lean best....It is uncertain when or if a detectable wave will be found, but like prospectors in search of gold, scientists endure. Showing this is how Bartusiak shows us that humanity, the mortal ego, is an element of science."
John-Henry Doucette, The Virginian-Pilot
• "Einstein's Unfinished Symphony provides a delightful and clearly written survey of the physics, the hopes, and the fears of the gravity wave community. You do not need to be an expert in general relativity to appreciate Bartusiak's account, which anyone with a basic grounding in science will benefit from, and enjoy, reading."
Matt Visser, Science
• "The route to LIGO was long and checkered; it is beautifully recounted by Marcia Bartusiak in her latest book, Einstein's Unfinished Symphony. Bartusiak is a distinguished science journalist with a reputation for detail and accuracy, and her new book is no exception. She has clearly made a great effort to interview all major players in the field, scan the literature, and capture the relevant science. What results is an easy-to-read and clear exposition...."
Lawrence M. Krauss, Physics Today
• "...Marcia Bartusiak is our guide on an intriguing scientific quest spanning nearly a century. Much more than a museum tour, this is a story of passionate, intelligent individuals who yearn for a deeper understanding of the universe....Bartusiak's lively style illuminates the contributions of physicists...and leaves the reader rooting for scientists around the world who wait eagerly and patiently for the universe to play them a tune."
• "[An] illuminating history....Bartusiak is adept at making the nuances of general relativity comprehensible....Einstein's Unfinished Symphony is understandable even to readers who lack a background in astronomy or physics....Einstein shines and Bartusiak's book resonates with optimism."
Ryder W. Miller, Mercury magazine, Astronomical Society of the Pacific
• "Bartusiak gives a good picture of the work of scientists and the obstacles, financial and political, as well as practical and theoretical, that they must undergo.... portray[s] Einstein as the epitome of genius, the well-deserving Man of the Century."
Nancy Schapiro, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
• "Bartusiak shows the reader the real world of science, where hypotheses are championed or challenged by people equipped not only with powerful minds but also courageous visions, fragile egos, and ample eccentricenties.... generous with anecdotes.... poetic..."
Jean Shea, Minneapolis Star Tribune
• "Bartusiak excitingly relates the hunt for proof of the gravity waves predicted by Einstein. The existence of these "spacequakes" would not only confirm the theory of relativity but also allow scientists to listen to the sounds of the Big Bang."
• "A beautiful history of gravitational-wave physics, full of carefully researched science and engaging portraits of scientists—elegant, straightforward, and clear."
Alan Lightman, author of Einstein's Dreams
• "Marcia Bartusiak has done it again. Her passion for probing the frontiers of cosmic discovery has now led to Einstein's Unfinished Symphony, an account of the physicist's ongoing quest to detect gravity waves--the last experimental test of Einstein's theory of relativity. Along the way, the reader is treated to a narrative that makes you feel as though you have front-row orchestra seats."
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director, Hayden Planetarium, New York City
• "Hang on tight and lean into the curves of space-time as Marcia Bartusiak takes you surfing through the world of gravitational waves. You'll meet the fountain-pen theorists and dirty-fingernail experimenters who are straining together to open a great new window on the Universe. Will they succeed? Nobody knows. But Marcia Bartusiak shines a laser beam of intelligence down the long dark tunnels of their work so you can share in the fun of these scientific adventure."
Robert P. Kirshner, Professor of Astronomy, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
• "A wonderful portrayal of the conflicting emotions of doubt and certainty in the scientists' minds as they tell themselves repeatedly that Einstein has to be right. This is a very high stakes game and the players are, in many ways, gamblers. Their strategies, strengths, and weaknesses are engagingly constructed and artfully told."
David DeVorkin, Curator, History of Astronomy and the Space Sciences, National Air and Space Museum
• "Marcia Bartusiak brings to vivid life the people and personalities, the challenges and controversies surrounding the hunt for gravitational waves. This is a sneak preview of what gravitational-wave astronomy will be all about."
Clifford M. Will, author of Was Einstein Right?
• "The universe is trying to tell us something—something fundamental—about how it came to be. Some very ingenious scientists, picking up where Albert Einstein left off are trying to listen. Fortunately, we have an insightful and clear-voiced guide to lead us on this grand intellectual adventure: Marcia Bartusiak."
Andrew Chaikin, author of A Man on the Moon
• "Bartusiak leads us deftly through the mind- and space-bending concepts of relativity and gives us a glimpse into the future of cosmological discovery."
Michael Lemonick, Time magazine science editor and author of Other Worlds: The Search for Life in the Universe
Through a Universe Darkly
Buy at Amazon
Hardcover, HarperCollins, 1993
Softcover, Avon Books, 1995
New York Times Notable Book
This is a history of astronomy from a different perspective. It is a history of cosmic matter. Through a Universe Darkly shows how the quest to learn the composition of the heavens has propelled astronomical inquiry from the ancient Greeks through Copernicus, Newton, and Einstein and up to today's cutting edge scientists. Over the centuries, astronomers have searched for the elements of our universe, unraveling riddles with solutions both revolutionary and awe-inspiring. But just as astronomers were confident that they had identified all of the universe's material constituents, a mystery arose that thrust astronomy back into a dark age. Something more was out there, an unknown substance that came to be called dark matter. Could the luminous stars and galaxies be mere whitecaps, whose gleaming presence diverts our eyes from a hidden ocean of matter below?
Conveying the tantalizing exhilaration of discovery that has driven astronomers for centuries, Through a Universe Darkly interweaves history, scientific personalities, and philosophy in an intoxicating story of the exploration of the universe's contents—most of all of dark matter, the mind-boggling, invisible substance that is changing our view of the universe.
• "If you're going to buy only one astronomy book this year, this should be the one. Bartusiak's blending of science and anecdotes is marvelous....Excellent book."
• "A clear and confident chronicle of modern astronomy....Bartusiak has such an enviable grasp of the big picture that she is able to communicate the inherent drama so that the reader gets caught up in the dark mystery. Immensely satisfying."
Air & Space
• "Absorbing...[and] beautifully written....Ms. Bartusiak describes the full array of dark-matter suspects--which range from brown dwarfs to massive neutrinos--and gives entertaining biographical sketches of the scientists who stalk them."
The Wall Street Journal
• "Marcia Bartusiak writes [with a] clean intelligence....She never fudges the logic. She walks you meticulously through every step of cosmologists' search for what the light matter is, where the dark matter is and what it might be. She lays open the chemistry, astronomy, and classical and quantum physics necessary to understand the search....Clear and uncondescending science writing."
The New York Times Book Review
• "Marcia Bartusiak introduces a large cast of remarkable astronomers, [with] their often idiosyncratic work habits and obsessions,...[and] describes with clarity, color and enthusiasm the search for the mysterious substance that seems to permeate vast areas of space."
The Los Angeles Times
• "For those who enjoy following scientific controversies as they unfold, this book is the best introduction available. And for those who wonder whether esoteric science questions can ever be explained adequately in prose, this book is a heartening answer."
• "Rich gem of a book....There is a quality that sets it apart. Perhaps it is the great clarity of the writing, the excellent pacing, or the careful weighing of what is important....This is the very model of what a popular science book should be."
• "Through a Universe Darkly reads like a thinking person's thriller....Marcia Bartusiak is the space-age illuminator of manuscripts."
• "A comprehensive and entertaining look at the history of our knowledge of the universe and what we may soon find out."
• "Through a Universe Darkly is well written, exceedingly accurate...and full of enticing tidbits."
Sky & Telescope
• "Highly entertaining and insightful....A superb book."
• "Entertaining and informative...a lively trip through astronomy's last 2 1/2 millennia....Those who want to learn about where we are, or are not, right now in our understanding of the cosmos (not to mention a great deal about the scientific personality and how scientists do their thing) should enjoy and appreciate [it]."
Daily Press, Newport News, Virginia
• "Through a Universe Darkly is a delight. Marcia Bartusiak unfolds nothing less than the history of the universe and everything in it—including the people who understand and appreciate it. Her lyrical language and imaginative analogies animate the physics, making it sparkle and leaving indelible imprints on the mind's eye."
K. C. Cole, science writer, The Los Angeles Times
• "Through a Universe Darkly brings scientists and their work to life. It is also an important contribution to the story of women in science. How refreshing to see distinguished women treated on par with their equally distinguished male colleagues."
Margaret Geller, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
• "From the Ethers of the ancient Greeks and nineteenth-century scientists to the mysterious dark matter of today, Marcia Bartusiak takes us on a spell-binding tour of the universe—seen and unseen—and how we came to know it. A magnificent book."
Michael Riordan, author of The Hunting of the Quark
• "With immense learning, a sharp eye for human detail, and a keen sense of scientific history, Marcia Bartusiak takes us on a journey through the human quest to answer the eerie question, 'What is the universe made of?' Bartusiak tells the story with great elegance."
Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone
• "Marcia Bartusiak's Through a Universe Darkly weaves together the key strands of our knowledge of the universe. Carefully crafted and highly readable."
Donald Goldsmith, author of The Astronomers
Buy at Amazon
Hardcover, Random House, 1986
Softcover, Microsoft Press, 1988
New York Times Notable Book
An Astronomy Book of the Year, Astronomical Society of the Pacific
With Thursday's Universe, Marcia Bartusiak takes you on a tantalizing journey to the frontiers of astronomy and astrophysics. She explores the very latest ideas about the moment of creation; the birth and death of stars, quasars, and galaxies; the structure of black holes; the puzzles of the universe's missing mass; and the still-unanswered questions about the cosmos. In the course of these explanations, she introduces the brilliant astronomers, astrophysicists, and researchers behind today's theories.
Her travels took her from a giant computer-controlled observatory in the desert of New Mexico to a tiny radio dish atop a Manhattan high-rise. Based on interviews with dozens of the leading figures in astronomy, Thursday's Universe outlines the great breakthroughs of the past and then lays out the cosmic agenda of tomorrow.
• "Authoritative...lucid...an insider's perspective on the discipline...Readers who puzzle over the latest news from out there but don't know quite where it all fits in will welcome Thursday's Universe."
The New York Times Book Review
• "My award for the outstanding general astronomy book of 1987 goes to Thursday's Universe....with winning prose many levels above that found in most popular science writing. Bartusiak focuses on the frontier "hot" topics of astronomy—black holes, missing mass, inflationary universe, the universe's destiny—with dazzling clarity and verve. She strikes a perfect balance by providing plenty of depth and detail without miring the reader in jargon or fuzzy explanations."
Terence Dickinson, Toronto Star
• Bartusiak's "enthusiasm for the subject [is] infectious."
The Washington Times
• "Masterful...In spinning her fascinating tale, Bartusiak captures not only the celestial elegance of the universe, but also the intellectual elegance of those who ponder it."
Air & Space
• "Bartusiak charts the evolution of our knowledge of the universe, from the birth of stars out of dust and gases to the ultimate questions of origin and destiny....Highly recommended."
• "Unquestionably the book to have if you want to catch up on what's been happening in astronomy the last few years...solid, entertaining, and informative."
• "Marcia Bartusiak has set herself a formidable task: to encompass all major recent developments in astronomy and cosmology. She succeeds rather well."
Sky & Telescope
• "Bartusiak demonstrates a competence and graceful style that make this one of the more enjoyable armchair astronomy chronicles."