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

av Dava Sobel

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
7443430,173 (3.72)92
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
… (mer)
  1. 20
    Miss Leavitts stjärnor : om kvinnan som upptäckte hur man mäter universum av 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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Very informative and interesting historical study of the remarkable, talented women who worked at the Harvard Observatory in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Initially employed in low-paid roles, many of them rose from humble beginnings to make very substantial contributions to astronomy.

Take Willamina Fleming, for example. Born in Scotland in 1857, she was abandoned by her husband, leaving her with a child to support. Working initially as a maid at the home of Edward Pickering, the director of the Observatory, she was employed by him to examine and catalog photographic plates of stellar spectra. Eventually she devised a classification system of stars which became the basis of the alphabetical system still used today. It’s because of this Scottish maid that we refer to our Sun as a G-type star, for example.

There were many other women employed by the Observatory who went on to make major scientific contributions. Annie Jump Cannon, who improved on the classification system; Henrietta Swan Leavitt, who discovered the luminosity-period relationship of Cepheid variable stars; the list goes on.

Sobel makes all of this a fascinating story. My only complaint (perhaps due to my faltering memory these days) is that there are SO many names mentioned that it sometimes became difficult to remember who was being talked about at a particular time. ( )
  davidrgrigg | Mar 23, 2024 |
I liked it. Was afraid the math and physics might be too much for me, but the author gave enough for the reader to understand what these women were doing and why it was important without getting the reader bogged down in the details. I especially enjoyed when there was a glimpse into the thoughts of one of the people, a diary or letter extract, wish there had been more of that but probably not much available ( )
  cspiwak | Mar 6, 2024 |
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 |
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Dava Sobelprimär författarealla utgåvorberäknat
Bouvard, LaurenceBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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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
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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
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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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