Ripples in the Cosmos: A View Behind the Scenes of the New Cosmology

Michael Rowan-Robinson, Author Oxford University Press, USA $23 (232p) ISBN 978-0-7167-4503-7
The 1983 launch of the Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) by NASA and British and Dutch government consortiums was a nearly perfect model of collaborative international science. The IRAS mission, to make a complete radiowave map of ``nearby'' galaxies, was nearly overshadowed by the headline-making discovery by the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite (COBE) of ``ripples'' in background microwave radiation . Redressing that imbalance here, renowned cosmologist Rowan-Robinson, who was on the British data analysis team, offers vignettes of the personalities, the machines and the perseverance that powered the project. Unnecessary lectures about the goal of science and a precis of the Big Bang theory bracket the compelling story of IRAS--to the effect of gift-wrapping the Mona Lisa. In Rowan-Robinson's telling, the IRAS story is great space-age science likely to inspire future astronomers. Illustrations. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
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