Everyone knows that the universe is extremely old and extremely large. But how did scientists determine just how old and how large? How do astronomers know that there are upwards of 100 billion galaxies in the universe if the nearest one is over 40,000 light-years away? How do we know what the stars are made of? The answer is that our current knowledge of the universe has arisen from the work and ideas of scientists and philosophers over hundreds of years. While it's only been during the last several decades that scientists have had the technology and theories to really understand how the universe works, humans have thought about such issues for millennia. And the scientists who today are attempting to understand the most complex issues of the universe build upon the work and thought of the thinkers of the last hundreds of years.
The Cosmos: A Historical Perspective provides an accessible introduction to the many ways humans have conceived of the universe throughout history and what ideas have led to our current understanding of the cosmos. The book examines: the Scientific Revolution and the new ideas of the Earth's place in the cosmos; the importance of nineteenth-century physics and chemistry in determining the compositions of stars; Einstein's Theory of Relativity and how it altered how scientists thought about gravity; and new, cutting-edge science that may alter, yet again, our conceptions of the cosmos, such as the inflationary universe and the possibility of dark energy. Jargon and mathematics is kept to a minimum, and the volume includes an annotated bibliography and a timeline. The Cosmos is an ideal introduction for students stu