The Relativity of Wrong

The Relativity of Wrong

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Description

Isaac Asimov, the author of over 365 books of fiction and non-fiction, provides a guide to the complexities of scientific phenomena for the lay reader in his twenty-eighth collection of scientific essays. This volume focuses specifically on astronomy and the solar system.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 238 pages
  • 129 x 196mm | 176g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • forms transparencies
  • 0192826328
  • 9780192826329

Table of contents

Part 1 Isotopes and elements: the second lightest; labels on the molecules; the consequences of pie; the enemy within; the light-bringer; beginning with bone. Part 2 The solar system: the moon and we; the unmentionable planet; the incredible shrinking planet; the minor objects. Part 3 Beyond the solar system: new stars; brightening stars; super-exploding stars; the dead-end middle; opposite; sail on. Part 4 Something extra: the relativity of wrong.show more

Review Text

The 24th collection of Asimov's essays, these culled from recent monthly columns in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The essays are grouped into three parts: "Isotopes and Elements"; "The Solar System"; and "Beyond the Solar System." Expect lots of chemistry and chemical history in Part I, including personal bits about Asimov's tiff with Harold Urey, who was not willing to admit someone who had not taken physical chemistry into Columbia's graduate chemistry program and made it very tough indeed. Here find essays on naturally radioactive substances and artificial radiation; the charms and dangers of carbon 14 in the body ("The Enemy Within"): and discourses on sulfur, phosphorus, and early matches, ending with an essay on the importance of phosphorus as the energy store of cells and as the calcium phosphate of bone. Asimov's fascination with size, distance, brightness, and other measurables is a familiar refrain seen in essays like "The Incredible Shrinking Planet." This is a neat exercise in logic and discovery that finally establishes Pluto as a small and icy "mesoplanet" (A's coinage for a planet between major and minor), accompanied by an even smaller moon, Charon. Or in an essay on novas, which led to a controversy over whether the Andromeda nebula, in which a nova had been spotted, was a far distant "island universe" or a nearby solar system in the making. Revelation comes in a succeeding essay on super-exploding stars: the star in Andromeda was a supernova 2.3 million light years away in the Andromeda galaxy. Concluding essays deal with matter and antimatter, star voyages, and, finally, the title piece, in which Asimov knocks the idea that right and wrong are absolutes. The point is that some things are wronger (or righter) than other things and we all got off on the wrong foot with the spelling, arithmetic drills, and short-answer tests of grade school. "Good" scientific concepts get refined over time, that's all. And written about by upbeat, postive-thinking, righter-than-most Asimov. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

230 ratings
4.16 out of 5 stars
5 43% (99)
4 36% (82)
3 16% (36)
2 6% (13)
1 0% (0)
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