The Neptune File: A Story of Astronomical Rivalry and the Pioneers of Planet Hunting

3.94 avg rating
( 114 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780802713636: The Neptune File: A Story of Astronomical Rivalry and the Pioneers of Planet Hunting

The Neptune File is the first full account of the dramatic events surrounding the eighth planet's discovery, and the story of two remarkable men who were able to "see" on paper what astronomers looking through telescopes for more than 200 years had overlooked.

On June 26, 1841, John Couch Adams, a brilliant young mathematician at Cambridge University, chanced upon a report by England's Astronomer Royal, George Airy, describing unsuccessful attempts to explain the mystifying orbital behavior of the planet Uranus, discovered 65 years earlier. Adams theorized that Uranus's orbit was being affected by the gravitational pull of another, as-yet-unseen planet. Furthermore, he believed that he did not need to see the planet to know where it was. Four years later, his daring mathematical calculations pinpointed the planet's location, but Airy failed to act on them―a controversial lapse that would have international repercussions.

Soon after Adams's "proof," a rival French astronomer, Urbain Le Verrier, also calculated the planet's position, and the race was on to actually view it. Found just where Adams and Le Verrier had predicted, the planet was named Neptune―and as the first celestial object located through calculation rather than observation, its discovery pioneered a new method for planet hunting.

Drawing on long-lost documents in George Airy's Neptune scrapbook, which resurfaced mysteriously at an observatory in Chile in 1999, The Neptune File is a crackling good human drama and a fascinating exploration of the science that underpins planetary astronomy. And the tale continues to unfold, as Tom Standage relates: Since 1995, astronomers have discovered more than 40 planets outside our solar system, opening an intriguing window on the universe. Yet none of these planets have ever been seen. Their discovery―and the history of science―owes much to the two men who unlocked the secret to locating unseen new worlds.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

In 1841, while browsing in a Cambridge bookshop, a young English student named John Couch Adams happened upon a perplexed remark in an astronomical report on the erratic behavior of the planet Uranus. A gifted mathematician, Adams set about arriving at an explanation, commenting to a fellow student, "You see, Uranus is a long way out of his course. I mean to find out why." Eventually, he did, using not direct observation but, controversially, mathematical modeling of a sort that has become commonplace today. Adams's work, built in a close race against rival French scientist Urbain Le Verrier, eventually established that Uranus's path was influenced by the gravitational pull of the then unseen planet of Neptune; Standage credits both Adams and Le Verrier with its discovery.

Drawing on long-forgotten archives, including a scrapbook by the author of the remark that fired Adams's imagination, science correspondent Tom Standage serves up a fine tale of discovery. His story begins with the earliest scientific descriptions of Uranus, an annoyingly wayward planet whose "position in the sky obstinately refused to match up with the position predicted by theory"--the classical theory, that is, of a regular, clockwork universe, which obtained in Adams's day and would not quite be laid to rest until Einstein's time. Standage's story continues to the present, an era when astronomers are, it seems, discovering new planets at every turn. Thanks to Adams and Le Verrier, Standage writes at the end of this graceful book, "Uranus lit the way to Neptune--and Neptune now points the way to the stars." --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Tom Standage is technology editor at The Economist magazine and the author of four history books, "A History of the World in Six Glasses" (2005), "The Turk" (2002), "The Neptune File" (2000) and "The Victorian Internet" (1998), two of which have been serialized as "Book of the Week" on Radio 4. "The Victorian Internet was made into a Channel 4 documentary, "How The Victorians Wired the World". Tom has previously covered science and technology for a number of newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Wired and Prospect. He holds a degree in engineering and computer science from Oxford University, and is the least musical member of a musical family. He is married and lives in Greenwich, London, with his wife and daughter.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Standage, Tom
Published by Walker & Company, New York, New York, U. S. A. (2000)
ISBN 10: 0802713637 ISBN 13: 9780802713636
New Hardcover First Edition Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Nan's Book Shop (IOBA)
(Glen Ellyn, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Walker & Company, New York, New York, U. S. A., 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine. Illustrated by Photographs, Diagrams (illustrator). First Edition. The Neptune File is the first full account of the dramatic events surrounding the eighth planet's discovery, and the story of two remarkable men who were able to "see" on paper what astronomers looking through telescopes for more than 200 years had overlooked. In June, 1941, John Couch Adams, a brilliant young mathematician at Cambridge University, chanced upon a report by England's Astronomer Royal, George Airy, describing unsuccessful attempts to explain the mystifying orbital behavior of the plan Uranus, discovered 65 years earlier. Adams theorized that Uranus's orbit was being affected by the gravitational pull of another, as-yet-unseen planet. Four years later, his daring mathematical calculations pinpointed the planet's location, but George Airy failed to act on them - a controversial lapse that would have international repercussions. The Neptune File is a crackling good human drama and a fascinating exploration of the science that underpins planetary astronomy. 240 pages, including notes, sources, and index. The jacket is scuffed. 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 001742

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 8.02
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.75
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Standage, Tom
Published by Walker and Company, New York (2000)
ISBN 10: 0802713637 ISBN 13: 9780802713636
New Hardcover First Edition Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Renaissance Books
(Riverside, CA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Walker and Company, New York, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: As New. First Edition. "A Story of Astronomical Rivalry and the Pioneers of Planet Hunting." In 1841, a young mathematician at Cambridge University came upon a report by the Royal Astronomer, describing attempts to explain the unusual orbital patterns of Uranus. John Couch Adams believed that an unseen body was exerting gravitational pressure on Uranus, and after 4 years, he had calculated the unseen planet's orbit. This is the first full account of the discovery of the eighth planet. xi+240 pages, preface, index. Published @ $24.00. Bookseller Inventory # 11197

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 9.95
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.00
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Standage, Tom
Published by Walker, NY (2000)
ISBN 10: 0802713637 ISBN 13: 9780802713636
New Hardcover First Edition Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Crowfly Books
(South Portland, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Walker, NY, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. This is a New and Unread copy of the first edition (1st printing). Book. Bookseller Inventory # 037640

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 15.00
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.75
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Tom Standage
Published by Walker Books (2000)
ISBN 10: 0802713637 ISBN 13: 9780802713636
New Hardcover First Edition Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Irish Booksellers
(Rumford, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Walker Books, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0802713637

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 21.72
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Tom Standage
Published by Walker & Company (2000)
ISBN 10: 0802713637 ISBN 13: 9780802713636
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Walker & Company, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0802713637

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 18.24
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Standage, Tom
Published by Walker Books (2000)
ISBN 10: 0802713637 ISBN 13: 9780802713636
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Walker Books, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110802713637

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 35.92
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 1.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Standage, Tom
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 10: 0802713637 ISBN 13: 9780802713636
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 4
Seller:
Diafan Media
(Geneva, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Walker Books. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0802713637 New Condition *** Right Off the Shelf | Ships within 2 Business Days ~~~ Customer Service Is Our Top Priority! - Thank you for LOOKING :-). Bookseller Inventory # 2BOOK2P132942

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 45.92
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.95
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Standage, Tom
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 10: 0802713637 ISBN 13: 9780802713636
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Cloud 9 Books
(Wellington, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Walker Books. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 0802713637 New Condition. Bookseller Inventory # NEW7.0370660

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 59.99
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 4.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds