Galaxies: A Very Short Introduction

Galaxies: A Very Short Introduction

Galaxies are the building blocks of the Universe: standing like islands in space, they are where the stars are born and where extraordinary phenomena can be observed. Many exciting discoveries have been made: how a supermassive black hole lurks at the centre of every galaxy, how enormous forces are released when galaxies collide, and what the formation of young galaxies can tell us about the mysteries of Cold Dark Matter. In this Very Short Introduction, renowned science writer John Gribbin describes the extraordinary things that astronomers are learning about galaxies, and explains how this can shed light on the origins and structure of the Universe.

Astrophysics: A Very Short Introduction

Astrophysics: A Very Short Introduction

Astrophysics is the physics of the stars, and more widely the physics of the Universe. It enables us to understand the structure and evolution of planetary systems, stars, galaxies, interstellar gas, and the cosmos as a whole. In this Very Short Introduction, the leading astrophysicist James Binney shows how the field of astrophysics has expanded rapidly in the past century, with vast quantities of data gathered by telescopes exploiting all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, combined with the rapid advance of computing power, which has allowed increasingly effective mathematical modelling. He illustrates how the application of fundamental principles of physics - the consideration of energy and mass, and momentum - and the two pillars of relativity and quantum mechanics, has provided insights into phenomena ranging from rapidly spinning millisecond pulsars to the collision of giant spiral galaxies. This is a clear, rigorous introduction to astrophysics for those keen to cut their teeth on a conceptual treatment involving some mathematics. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable

Black Holes: A Very Short Introduction

Black Holes: A Very Short Introduction

Black holes are a source of wide fascination. In this Very Short Introduction, Katherine Blundell addresses a variety of questions, including what a black hole actually is, how they are characterised and discovered, to what happens if you get too close to one. Explaining how black holes formand grow across cosmic time, as well as how many there are in the Universe, she also considers how black holes interact with matter - by stealing material that belongs to other stars, and how black holes give rise to quasars and other spectacular, yet exotic phenomena in outer space.

Renewable Energy: A Very Short Introduction

Renewable Energy: A Very Short Introduction

Energy is vital for a good standard of living, and much of the world's population does not have enough. Affordable and adequate sources of power that do not cause climate change or pollution are crucial; and renewables provide the answer. Wind and solar farms can now provide the cheapest electricity in many parts of the world. Moreover, they could provide all of the world's energy needs. But while market forces are fast helping the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, there are opposing pressures, such as the USA's proposed withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, and the vested interests in fossil fuels. This Very Short Introduction describes the main renewable sources of energy- solar, wind, hydropower, and biomass- as well as the less well-developed ones- geothermal, tidal, and wave. Nick Jelley explains the challenges of integrating renewables into electricity grids, and the need for energy storage and for clean heat; and discusses the opportunities in developing countries for renewable energy to empower millions. He also considers international efforts and policies to support renewables and tackle climate change; and explains recent innovations in wind and solar energy production, battery storage, and in the emerging power-to-gas provision for clean heating. Throughout, he emphasises what renewable energy can deliver, and its importance in tackling climate change, and in improving health, welfare, and access to electricity. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Gravity

Gravity

In this Very Short Introduction Timothy Clifton looks at the development of our understanding of gravity since the early observations of Kepler and Newtonian theory. He discusses Einstein's theory of gravity, which now supplants Newton's, showing how it allows us to understand why the frequency of light changes as it passes through a gravitational field, why GPS satellites need their clocks corrected as they orbit the Earth, and why the orbits of distant neutron stars speed up. Today, almost 100 years after Einstein published his theory of gravity, we have even detected the waves of gravitational radiation that he predicted. Clifton concludes by considering the testing and application of general relativity in astrophysics and cosmology, and looks at dark energy and efforts such as string theory to combine gravity with quantum mechanics.

Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction

Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction

Astrobiology is the study of the origin and development of life on this and other planets. What fascinates people about astrobiology is that it seeks answers to long-standing unsolved questions: How quickly did life evolve on Earth and why did life persist here? Is there life elsewhere in the Solar System or beyond? The research of astrobiology has become more crucial than ever in recent decades, as biologists have discovered microbes that live in ever more extreme settings, such as bubbling hot springs, in acid, or deep within rocks. Rooted in strong and rigorous research, astrobiology incorporates the work of microbiologists, geologists, and astronomers. In this Very Short Introduction, David C. Catling introduces the origins of astrobiology and demonstrates its impact on current astronomical research and potential future discoveries. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Waves

A Very Short Introduction

Waves

From sound waves to gravitational waves, and from waves of light to crashing rollers on the ocean, Mike Goldsmith explores the fundamental features shared by all waves in the natural world, and considers the range of phenomena resulting from wave motion, including reflection, diffraction, and polarization in light, and beats and echoes in sound.

Cosmology: A Very Short Introduction

Cosmology: A Very Short Introduction

This book is a simple, non-technical introduction to cosmology, explaining what it is and what cosmologists do. Peter Coles discusses the history of the subject, the development of the Big Bang theory, and more speculative modern issues like quantum cosmology, superstrings, and dark matter. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Matter: A Very Short Introduction

Matter: A Very Short Introduction

What is matter? Matter is the stuff from which we and all the things in the world are made. Everything around us, from desks, to books, to our own bodies are made of atoms, which are small enough that a million of them can fit across the breadth of a human hair. Inside every atom is a tiny nucleus and orbiting the nucleus is a cloud of electrons. The nucleus is made out of protons and neutrons, and by zooming in further you would find that inside each there are even smaller particles, quarks. Together with electrons, the quarks are the smallest particles that have been seen, and are the indivisible fundamental particles of nature that have existed since the Big Bang, almost 14 billion years ago. The 92 different chemical elements that all normal matter is made from were forged billions of years ago in the Big Bang, inside stars, and in violent stellar explosions. This Very Short Introduction takes us on a journey from the human scale of matter in the familiar everyday forms of solids, liquids, and gases to plasmas, exotic forms of quantum matter, and antimatter. On the largest scales matter is sculpted by gravity into planets, stars, galaxies, and vast clusters of galaxies. All the matter that that we normally encounter however constitutes only 5% of the matter that exists. The remaining 95% comes in two mysterious forms: dark matter, and dark energy. Dark matter is necessary to stop the galaxies from flying apart, and dark energy is needed to explain the observed acceleration of the expansion of the universe. Geoff Cottrell explores the latest research into matter, and shows that there is still a lot we don't know about the stuff our universe is made of. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Stars: A Very Short Introduction

Stars: A Very Short Introduction

Every atom of our bodies has been part of a star. Our very own star, the Sun, is crucial to the development and sustainability of life on Earth. This Very Short Introduction presents a modern, authoritative examination of how stars live, producing all the chemical elements beyond helium, and how they die, sometimes spectacularly, to end as remnants such as black holes. Andrew King shows how understanding the stars is key to understanding the galaxies they inhabit, and thus the history of our entire Universe, as well as the existence of planets like our own. King presents a fascinating exploration of the science of stars, from the mechanisms that allow stars to form and the processes that allow them to shine, as well as the results of their inevitable death. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.