The Neptune File: Planet Detectives And The Discovery Of Worlds Unseen

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Quick Overview
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.
The Neptune File tells the story of the gifted mathematician John Couch Adams and the discovery of the planet Neptune in 1846. Combining scientific triumph with international controversy, this is an intriguing tale of the search for an unseen planet, and the uproar it caused. More than just an intriguing historical yarn, Adam's work signified the beginning of a new era of planet hunting by providing astronomers with a powerful tool with which to search for new worlds. It marked the genesis of the idea that astronomers could find new planets by looking for their telltale gravitational influence on other bodies, rather than observing them directly with telescopes. In recent years this approach has led to an extraordinary series of discoveries - today's planet detectives are relying on a technique whose theoretical foundations were laid by their 19th-century predecessors.
More Information
AuthorTom Standage
PublisherPenguin Books
PlaceLondon
Year2001
ISBN9780140294644
BindingPaperback
ConditionVery Good
CommentsName and date in black on back of front cover
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