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See Inside Scientific American Volume 309, Issue 5

Book Review: Star-Craving Mad

Books and recommendations from Scientific American
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Allen & Unwin

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Star-Craving Mad: Tales from a Traveling Astronomer
by Fred Watson
Allen & Unwin, 2013

Armed with dry wit and a dash of whimsy, Australian astronomer Watson makes difficult scientific concepts such as dark energy, the Higgs boson, and the surprisingly hazy distinction between giant planets and small stars seem simple. Whether telling tales of pseudoscientific alien encounters at conferences, journeying to ancient observatories in Peru or relating his views on what differentiates astronomy from all other scientific fields—“since there is no marketable end-product, there is little scope for corruption,” he writes—Watson entertains and enlightens. He deftly twists and turns between astronomy history and cutting-edge research, ultimately transforming a book about space science and physics into a rarity: light reading packed with valuable information.

This article was originally published with the title "Star-Craving Mad."

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