Skip to main content

Hubble: the mirror on the universe – Robin Kerrod & Carole Stott ***

I was asked to review this book as I also looked at a book with a scarily similar title, Hubble: window on the universe. Both are coffee table books that depend on pictures from the Hubble telescope for their appeal. Both have 224 pages of big colour pictures, using those stunning images that Hubble has provided over the years.
I can’t fault the image selection in either. Here, after a quick look at the telescope itself we progress through stars, stellar destruction, galaxies, the big bang, the solar system and planets. Of the two, the text is definitely better in this book, while the other title has the edge on the photos because of the sheer size of the book – 37×30 to this book’s 28×23. That extra size means that ‘window’ really wows you visually.
However the bigger pictures here are still stunning, and it is noticeably easier to hold. You can just about read this in your lap, where ‘window’ probably needs to be on a table to have a chance.
This is an excellent choice, and in its 2011 third edition the more up-to-date of the two. I also significantly preferred the text here. But this isn’t going to be the sort of book you read cover-to-cover, and as such, for the sheer scale of the photos, the other book just has the edge. And if you want a book that’s more manageable to read with a stronger concentration on the text, I’d probably recommend our editor’s Exploring the Universe instead. It doesn’t stop this being an excellent book, though – and this book would make a great present for anyone interested in astronomy.
Paperback:  
Review by Jo Reed

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

UFO Drawings from the National Archives - David Clarke ***

This is a lovely little book that, sadly, not every reader will see the point of. If somebody’s anecdotal account of a presumed alien encounter is obviously a misperception of a mundane occurrence, or else too vague – or too far-fetched – to be taken seriously, then it’s all too easy to dismiss it as worthless. But that’s missing the point. The fact that so many incidents are reported in these terms makes the witnesses’ testimony worthy of serious study – to teach us, not about extraterrestrial civilisations, but about our own culture.

That was the core message of David Clarke’s excellent How UFOs Conquered the World published a couple of years ago. Now Clarke is back with another take on the same basic theme.  His day job is Reader and Principal Lecturer in Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University, but for the last ten years he’s also acted as consultant for the National Archives project to release all of Britain’s official Ministry of Defence (MoD) files on UFOs. Throughout the Cold…

Crashing Heaven (SF) - Al Robertson ****

There's an engaging mix of powerful thriller and science fiction in this impressive novel. After the Earth has been rendered uninhabitable, human life is limited to vast space station. Our central character, Jack, has a symbiotic artificial intelligence, Hugo Fist, designed to destroy other AIs in a mysterious collective that is said to have committed an atrocity - but with a kick in the tail that because of an unbreakable contract, Fist will take over Jack's body in a few weeks' time.

Al Robertson packs remarkable technology concepts into the cyber side of this story, from AI corporations that act as a pantheon of gods to the 'puppet' that is Fist (he usually come across as a virtual cross between Mr Punch and an evil ventriloquist's dummy). Robertson does all the cyber stuff so well that it's easy to miss that this is, in effect, a myth in electronic clothing - you could substitute the myths of 'real' Greek gods and magic for what happens here. Alt…

The Science of Food - Marty Jopson ****

This is a tasty little volume, packed with kitchen-based science. I must admit, when I saw that the author was the One Show's science expert and Marty Jopson's author photo has that 'Hey, I'm a mad scientist, kids!' look, my heart fell - I was sure the book would be the written equivalent of a 'Wow, look, aren't I clever, I can make this go bang!' science show - but, in fact, it's packed full of (appropriately) meaty scientific content.

I was really pleased that Jopson didn't stick purely to the chemistry of cooking, but launched with the working of some familiar kitchen gadgets - there was genuinely fascinating reading to be had about apparently humdrum equipment in the form of the physics and materials science of a knife and chopping board. And Jopson took us into industrial kitchens too, to reveal, for example, the remarkable process required to make puffed wheat.

Inevitably, the chemistry of cooking - how, for example, proteins denature and em…