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The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars (2016)

de Dava Sobel

Altres autors: Mira la secció altres autors.

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7373330,167 (3.71)89
History. Science. Nonfiction. HTML:From #1 New York Times bestselling author Dava Sobel, the "inspiring" (People), little-known true story of women's landmark contributions to astronomy

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2017
Named one of the best books of the year by NPR, The Economist, Smithsonian, Nature, and NPR's Science Friday

Nominated for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
"A joy to read.? ??The Wall Street Journal

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or ??human computers,? to interpret the observations their male counterparts made via telescope each night. At the outset this group included the wives, sisters, and daughters of the resident astronomers, but soon the female corps included graduates of the new women's colleges??Vassar, Wellesley, and Smith. As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the ladies turned from computation to studying the stars captured nightly on glass photographic plates.
The ??glass universe? of half a million plates that Harvard amassed over the ensuing decades??through the generous support of Mrs. Anna Palmer Draper, the widow of a pioneer in stellar photography??enabled the women to make extraordinary discoveries that attracted worldwide acclaim. They helped discern what stars were made of, divided the stars into meaningful categories for further research, and found a way to measure distances across space by starlight. Their ranks included Williamina Fleming, a Scottish woman originally hired as a maid who went on to identify ten novae and more than three hundred variable stars; Annie Jump Cannon, who designed a stellar classification system that was adopted by astronomers the world over and is still in use; and Dr. Cecilia Helena Payne, who in 1956 became the first ever woman professor of astronomy at Harvard??and Harvard??s first female department chair.
Elegantly written and enriched by excerpts from letters, diaries, and memoirs, The Glass Universe is the hidden history of the women whose contributions to the burgeoning field of astronomy forever changed our understanding of the sta
… (més)
  1. 20
    Miss Leavitt's Stars : The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe de George Johnson (themulhern)
    themulhern: Both books cover the same subject, and they don't entirely agree, which is interesting. "The Glass Universe" is longer and broader, "Miss Leavitt's Stars" is shorter and more focused.
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Es mostren 1-5 de 33 (següent | mostra-les totes)
This is a history of the role of the women who analyzed photographic plates of stars produced at the Harvard College Observatory from the mid-nineteenth century onward. Ironically, the work of making the observations themselves at night on telescopes in Harvard and observatories elsewhere was deemed too difficult for women to undertake. Originally the women who did the compilations were wives, sisters and daughters of astronomers, but eventually graduates of women's colleges were hired to continue the work. It is amazing to learn how many of the computations and discoveries were made by women in a scientific field usually dominated by men. The approach was rather dry, but I enjoyed listening to it. ( )
  terran | Feb 21, 2024 |
could have benefited from more societal/historical anecdotes to liven it up a bit. well researched but super dry. In terms of enjoyment, I would give it 2 stars but I really do appreciate the research that went into it, so I'll give it 3. ( )
  veewren | Jul 12, 2023 |
Wonderful. Amazing history of the exploration of the universe by the Harvard Lady Compuers. ( )
  mrklingon | May 1, 2023 |
Enjoyed it very much! I don't even love astronomy, and thinking too much about the extent of our universe gives me the willies, but this was very personal with many excerpts from people's letters and diaries. As much or more about the people involved as the discoveries they made. I will be keeping an eye out for some of her other books. ( )
  MrsLee | Jan 29, 2023 |
This book looks at the role women played, especially but not exclusively, at Harvard in mapping the stars and in developing an understanding of their characteristics -- size, brightness, composition -- often developing formulae that remain useful today. Their dedication and achievements are inspirational. It is nice that they got some recognition for their contributions, although not always as much as they deserved.

Overall, the book was a bit dry. I know about the work these women did, but not much about them. Maybe there isn't a lot of information available? There is a story in the book about Mr. Shapley becoming distracted by ants as he's setting up a telescope and how he goes on to study them in his spare time. The story shows the inherent curiosity of scientists and I would have liked more of that kind of thing.

I like the title. Made me think that these women broke the "glass ceiling" by being hired for scientific work and were now focused on making their mark on the "glass universe". ( )
1 vota LynnB | Jul 29, 2022 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 33 (següent | mostra-les totes)

» Afegeix-hi altres autors (3 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Dava Sobelautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Bouvard, LaurenceNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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"Cercai comete per un'ora circa, poi mi trastullai a osservare le varietà di colore. Mi meraviglio di essere stata così a lungo insensibile a questa attrattiva celeste, le sfumature delle diverse stelle sono assai delicate nella loro molteplicità [...] Peccato che alcuni produttori non siano in grado di rubare alle stelle il segreto dei coloranti."
Maria Mitchell (1818-1889), docente di astronomia, Vassar College
"Le bianche cavalle delle luna galoppano nel cielo percuotendo con i loro zoccoli dorati la volta di vetro"
Amy Lowell (1874-1925), vincitrice del premio Pulitzer per la poesia
Dedicatòria
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To the ladies who sustain me:
Diane Ackerman, Jane Allen,
KC Cole, Mary Giaquinto, Sara James, Joanne Julian,
Zoe Klein, Celia Michaels, Lois Morris,
Chiara Peacock, Sarah Pillow,
Rita Reiswig, Lydia Salant, Amanda Sobel,
Margaret Thomspon, and Wendy Zomparelli
with love and thanks
Primeres paraules
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A little piece of heaven.
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The year 1925 brought belated recognition for Henrietta Leavitt, from an admirer who did not yet know that she had died. “Honoured Miss Leavitt,” began the letter of February 23 from Gosta Mittag-Leffler of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. “What my friend and colleague Professor von Zeipel of Uppsala has told me about your admirable discovery of the empirical law touching the connection between magnitude and period length for the S. Cephei-variables of the Little Magellan’s Cloud, has impressed me so deeply that I feel seriously inclined to nominate you to the Nobel prize in physics for 1926, although I must confess that my knowledge of the matter is as yet rather incomplete.” The writer, a ferocious advocate for the recognition of women in science, had agitated in 1889 to gain a full professorship at Stockholm University College for the Russian mathematician Sofia Kovalevskaya. In 1903 he successfully pressed the Nobel committee to include Madame Marie Curie in the physics prize being awarded to her husband, Pierre, and their countryman Henri Becquerel, the discoverer of radioactivity.
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History. Science. Nonfiction. HTML:From #1 New York Times bestselling author Dava Sobel, the "inspiring" (People), little-known true story of women's landmark contributions to astronomy

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2017
Named one of the best books of the year by NPR, The Economist, Smithsonian, Nature, and NPR's Science Friday

Nominated for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
"A joy to read.? ??The Wall Street Journal

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Harvard College Observatory began employing women as calculators, or ??human computers,? to interpret the observations their male counterparts made via telescope each night. At the outset this group included the wives, sisters, and daughters of the resident astronomers, but soon the female corps included graduates of the new women's colleges??Vassar, Wellesley, and Smith. As photography transformed the practice of astronomy, the ladies turned from computation to studying the stars captured nightly on glass photographic plates.
The ??glass universe? of half a million plates that Harvard amassed over the ensuing decades??through the generous support of Mrs. Anna Palmer Draper, the widow of a pioneer in stellar photography??enabled the women to make extraordinary discoveries that attracted worldwide acclaim. They helped discern what stars were made of, divided the stars into meaningful categories for further research, and found a way to measure distances across space by starlight. Their ranks included Williamina Fleming, a Scottish woman originally hired as a maid who went on to identify ten novae and more than three hundred variable stars; Annie Jump Cannon, who designed a stellar classification system that was adopted by astronomers the world over and is still in use; and Dr. Cecilia Helena Payne, who in 1956 became the first ever woman professor of astronomy at Harvard??and Harvard??s first female department chair.
Elegantly written and enriched by excerpts from letters, diaries, and memoirs, The Glass Universe is the hidden history of the women whose contributions to the burgeoning field of astronomy forever changed our understanding of the sta

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