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Light: A Radiant History from Creation to the Quantum Age
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Bloomsbury Publishing 2016
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Description
Light begins at Stonehenge, where crowds cheer a solstice sunrise. After sampling myths explaining First Light, the story moves on to early philosophers' queries, then through the centuries, from Buddhist temples to Biblical scripture, when light was the soul of the divine. Battling darkness and despair, Gothic architects crafted radiant cathedrals while Dante dreamed a "heaven of pure light." Later, following Leonardo's advice, Renaissance artists learned to capture light on canvas. During the Scientific Revolution, Galileo gathered light in his telescope, Descartes measured the rainbow, and Newton used prisms to solidify the science of optics. But even after Newton, light was an enigma. Particle or wave? Did it flow through an invisible "ether"? Through the age of Edison and into the age of lasers, Light reveals how light sparked new wonders—relativity, quantum electrodynamics, fiber optics, and more. Although lasers now perform everyday miracles, light retains its eternal allure. "For the rest of my life," Einstein said, "I will reflect on what light is." Light explores and celebrates such curiosity.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
02/02/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781620405611
ASIN:
B015JJ8TVI
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APA Citation (style guide)

Bruce Watson. (2016). Light: A Radiant History from Creation to the Quantum Age. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Bruce Watson. 2016. Light: A Radiant History From Creation to the Quantum Age. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Bruce Watson, Light: A Radiant History From Creation to the Quantum Age. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Bruce Watson. Light: A Radiant History From Creation to the Quantum Age. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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shortDescription

Eternal begins at Stonehenge, where crowds cheer a solstice sunrise. After sampling myths explaining First Light, the story moves on to early philosophers' queries, then through the centuries, from Buddhist temples to Biblical scripture, when light was the soul of the divine.

Battling darkness and despair, Gothic architects crafted radiant cathedrals while Dante dreamed a "heaven of pure light." Later, following Leonardo's advice, Renaissance artists learned to capture light on canvas. During the Scientific Revolution, Galileo gathered light in his telescope, Descartes measured the rainbow, and Newton used prisms to solidify the science of optics. But even after Newton, light was an enigma. Particle or wave? Did it flow through an invisible "ether"? Through the age of Edison and into the age of lasers, Eternal reveals how light sparked new wonders--relativity, quantum electrodynamics, fiber optics, and more.

Although lasers...

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title
Light
fullDescription
Light begins at Stonehenge, where crowds cheer a solstice sunrise. After sampling myths explaining First Light, the story moves on to early philosophers' queries, then through the centuries, from Buddhist temples to Biblical scripture, when light was the soul of the divine.
Battling darkness and despair, Gothic architects crafted radiant cathedrals while Dante dreamed a "heaven of pure light." Later, following Leonardo's advice, Renaissance artists learned to capture light on canvas. During the Scientific Revolution, Galileo gathered light in his telescope, Descartes measured the rainbow, and Newton used prisms to solidify the science of optics. But even after Newton, light was an enigma. Particle or wave? Did it flow through an invisible "ether"? Through the age of Edison and into the age of lasers, Light reveals how light sparked new wonders—relativity, quantum electrodynamics, fiber optics, and more.

Although lasers now perform everyday miracles, light retains its eternal allure. "For the rest of my life," Einstein said, "I will reflect on what light is." Light explores and celebrates such curiosity.
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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: the Angeles Times
      • content: Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes in Science & Technology
      • premium: False
      • source: The Washington Post
      • content: . . . A sweeping cultural and scientific history of our understanding of light . . . With his trademark good storytelling and wide reading, Watson takes us on a delightful journey.
      • premium: False
      • source: The Dallas Morning News
      • content: [J.M.W.] Turner established himself as a true 'painter of light' with his extraordinary seascapes and sunsets . . . [And] you'll appreciate Watson's nuanced explanations of exactly how the artist achieved his goals.
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: An ingenious combination of science and art history.
      • premium: False
      • source: Christian Century
      • content: Bruce Watson's new book . . . has the buoyant tone of a writer who is having fun—and who is able to convey that sense of excitement and discovery to the reader. Light, the phenomenon, has fascinated people for millennia. Light, the book, will fascinate them now.
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        November 30, 2015
        Watson (Freedom Summer), a frequent contributor to Smithsonian, leads an engrossing tour of humans’ longtime fascination with and study of light. He bookends his narrative with accounts of his visits to Stonehenge, for the summer solstice, and Ireland’s Newgrange, for the winter solstice. Between these brilliantly described personal experiences, Watson traces scientific inquiry into the nature of light from the ancient Greeks, including Empedocles and Euclid, through scholars of the golden age of Islam such as Ibn al-Haytham (aka Alhazen), to the more modern figures of Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Richard Feynman. This isn’t just a book of science history; inventors such as photography pioneer Louis Daguerre and light bulb originator Thomas Edison take their places amongst the academics of light, and Watson includes artists as well. Abbot Suger, designer of the church at Saint-Denis, France, receives his due along with the polymath Leonardo da Vinci, painters Rembrandt van Rijn and J.M.W. Turner, composer Joseph Haydn, poet and artist William Blake, and many others. Watson even includes an appendix on the light that some people see during near-death experiences. Weaving his own journeys and experiments throughout the work, Watson provides a panoramic view of human engagement with this most curiosity-inducing phenomenon.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from November 15, 2015
        The usual popular-science history of light begins with the ancient Greeks and peters out soon after Einstein, but this fine account by Smithsonian contributing writer Watson (Freedom Summer: The Savage Season of 1964 that Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy, 2010, etc.) paints with a broader brush. The author emphasizes that humans paid attention to light and darkness long before they tried to understand it. With increasing knowledge came conveniences and inventions along with new ways of observing the world--i.e., art. Throughout the book, Watson gives close attention to both science and art. All religions venerate light, which the author illustrates in his first 60 pages, including many quotes from sacred texts and holy men that show great passion without actually explaining anything. Ancient thinkers argued a problem that now seems odd. Do we see because light flows from our eyes toward the world or in the opposite direction? Aristotle got it wrong; only in the Middle Ages did Arab scientists deliver a convincing argument. Watson's artistic Renaissance begins with a new birth of vision. Perspective in painting appeared in the 15th century, as artists teased out the secrets of light, shading, and color. The scientific Renaissance arrives in the following chapter, and Isaac Newton receives his own (gravity gets the headlines, but his optical studies were equally revolutionary). The author proceeds with chapters devoted to physics, the humanities, or both (19th-century France invented both photography and impressionism). Watson's examination of technology monopolizes the book's final third, as the century and a half that began with Thomas Edison's incandescent bulb (already fading into obsolescence) has swamped the world in light pouring out of lasers, masers, LEDs, and optical scanners. An ingenious combination of science and art history.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from December 1, 2015
        Watson is an excellent writer, and if this book doesn't become the popular primer on its subject for quite some time, we'll have to call out the conspiracy theorists to explain. Bookended by visits to those modern-day gawker-magnets, Stonehenge and Newgrange, the story he tells is a thread spun of the three strands of religion and philosophy, art, and science. Many early religions regarded light itself as God; Judaism significantly differed by conceiving light as being God-proclaimed. That got the scientific ball rolling as a rational attempt to answer the question of what light is. That answer still eludes us, for how can it be that, as quantum physics explains, the irreducible constituent of light, the photon, is without mass (hence, cannot decay and is immortal) and spins in a pair whose members change direction simultaneously, though they are at opposite ends of the universe? As religion, philosophy, and science pondered and predicated what light is, artists, including architects, painters, and photographers re-created light in terms of stone, pigment, and chemical reaction. This is a story and a book chock-full of great and fascinating figures, each of whose personality and doings Watson deftly presents without detracting from the impetus of his millennia-spanning narrative. A dazzling book, as seems completely appropriate.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

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