Rocky Kolb - Blind Watchers of the Sky

"Although looking is no guarantee of seeing something, not looking will always ensure not seeing." p. 85
Warning! Although this book will only set you back about $11 (or nothing if you check it out of a library) you will find yourself spending hundreds of dollars on a telescope and astronomy periodicals by the time you finish it.

Blind Watchers of the Sky is not just a good book. It is a great book. Kolb is as entertaining (for an example, see the quote below from page 270) as he is informative. Give this book to a teenager or someone having a difficult time picking a college major and you will have a hard time getting them to choose a career that is not in the sciences.

Kolb takes us on a tour of our watched universe beginning with Tycho Brahe in the 16th Century. Essentially, the reader gets a glimpse of cosmology (and its history) from over four centuries ago to the present, and then they are taken on an eventful journey back to the big bang. Along the way we get to experience the interesting aspects of such intriguing personalities as Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Herschel, Einstein, Hubble, Gamow, and others. We find out their discoveries, errors, and the one common element which they all share with modern astronomers--they are all blind watchers of the sky.

The prose is lively and enjoyable--the way science written for the masses should be. Similar to works by Sagan and Shermer, we learn what science is (and can offer) in a clearly presented manner. Those who don't know or understand the reasons why modern cosmologists have come to their conclusions should read this book before tackling anything more difficult on the subject. The annotated bibliography included is excellent for pursuing the discussed topics and persons more fully. Because it is annotated, readers can easily determine which works (written technically versus for a general audience) will be applicable to their needs. I can't imagine anyone not relishing parts, if not most or all, of this book.

"Earlier than about 3.3 million years after the bang, the universe was too warm for comfort. In fact, it was hotter than hell (assuming that the temperature of hell is about the boiling point of brimstone, 445 degrees Celsius). This era might have theological implications, but nothing of interest to cosmologists occurred at this time; the universe seemed to pass uneventfully through the temperature of hell." p. 270

"One of the most enjoyable books about the history of our views of the universe in recent years." -- Space Views

"Meet Rocky Kolb, gutsy narrator of a thoroughly delightful recounting of the great ideas of the past 500 years of cosmological understanding...Kolb has a novelist's knack for projecting us backwards into epochs very different from now, and his analysis, given its generally high entertainment value, is surprisingly sophisticated." -- Nature

"Kolb's colorful and often humorous anecdotes of the lives of the great astronomers give a human side to science that makes learning the history of our cosmological model delightful and stimulating. (Four stars)" -- Detroit News/Free Press

Rocky Kolb, founding Head of the NASA/Fermilab Theoretical Astrophysics Group and University of Chicago Professor, combines art, humor, music, and philosophy in writings and lectures about cosmology for the general public.