A Supersized View of the Universe
The universe we live in is mind-bendingly enormous, and it can be hard to convey a sense of that vastness on the printed page. But Michael Benson makes a spirited attempt in Planetfall: New Solar System Visions (Abrams, $55), an oversized book with pages 15 inches wide and 12 inches tall—so large that it’s almost unwieldy to flip through the pages. Two 30-inch, four-page gatefolds and one 60-inch, 8-page gatefold up the ante on the size of the window through which readers can experience the images. And the photographs are definitely front and center: The majority of the book contains pictures completely unadorned by text, with captions sequestered in a section at the back. The images focus on our solar system, with views of the Earth and Moon, the Sun, Mars, asteroids and comets, Jupiter and Saturn. The entire volume is stunningly visual, but perhaps the most impressive imaging is that of the Sun, showing its roiling convection in textures reminiscent of brushstrokes in an Impressionist painting. (The image at right shows the solar corona during an eclipse of the Sun by the Earth.) Benson’s short introductions to the book’s six sections convey information, anecdotes, connections with ancient history and, perhaps most prominently, his simultaneous chiding of humanity for the shortsightedness he feels is evident in the treatment Earth receives and his hope that our species will learn to see more clearly.
» Post Comment
Check out our most recent podcast: How You Can Better Communicate Your Science - science author and journalist Dennis Meredith discusses some of the ways he’s found to help scientists become more effective communicators.
Click the Title to view all of our Pizza Lunch Podcasts!
A free daily summary of the latest news in scientific research. Each story is summarized concisely and linked directly to the original source for further reading.
An early peek at each new issue, with descriptions of feature articles, columns,
and more. Every other issue contains links to everything in the latest issue's table of contents.
News of book reviews published in
and around the web, as well as other noteworthy happenings in the world of science books.
To sign up for automatic emails of the
Update and Scientists' Nightstand issues, create an
online profile, then sign up in the
My AmSci area.