Book: Mapping the Heavens

April 25, 2016

Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos

Priyamvada Natarajan, professor of astronomy and of physics

(Yale University Press)

This book provides a tour of the “greatest hits” of cosmological discoveries — the ideas that reshaped our universe over the past century. The cosmos, once understood as a stagnant place, filled with the ordinary, is now a universe that is expanding at an accelerating pace, propelled by dark energy and structured by dark matter. Priyamvada Natarajan not only explains the science behind these essential ideas but also provides an understanding of how radical scientific theories gain acceptance.

The formation and growth of black holes, dark matter halos, the accelerating expansion of the universe, the echo of the big bang, the discovery of exoplanets, and the possibility of other universes — these are some of the puzzling cosmological topics of the early 21st century. Natarajan discusses why the acceptance of new ideas about the universe and our place in it has never been linear and always contested even within the scientific community. And she affirms that, shifting and incomplete as science always must be, it offers the best path we have toward making sense of the universe.