Edwin Hubble: Mariner of the Nebulae is both the biography of an extraordinary human being and the story of the greatest quest in the history of astronomy since the Copernican revolution. The book is a revealing portrait of scientific genius, an incisive engaging history of ideas, and a shimmering evocation of what we see when gazing at the stars.
Born in 1889 and reared in the village of Marshfield, Missouri, Edwin Powell Hubble-star athlete, Rhodes Scholar, military officer, and astronomer- became one of the towering figures in twentieth-century science. Hubble worked with the great 100-inch Hooker telescope at California's Mount Wilson Observatory and made a series of discoveries that revolutionized humanity's vision of the cosmos. In 1923 he was able to confirm the existence of other nebulae (now known to be galaxies) beyond our own Milky Way. By the end of the decade, Hubble had proven that the universe is expanding, thus laying the very cornerstone of the big bang theory of creation. It was Hubble who developed the elegant scheme by which the galaxies are classified as ellipticals and spirals, and it was Hubble who first provided reliable evidence that the universe is homogeneous, the same in all directions as far as the telescope can see.
An incurable Anglophile with a penchant for tweed jackets and English briars, Hubble, together with his brilliant and witty wife, Grace Burke, became a fixture in Hollywood society in the 1930s and 40s. They counted among their friends Charlie Chaplin, the Marx brothers, Anita Loos, Aldous and Maria Huxley, Walt Disney, Helen Hayes, and William Randolph Hearst. Albert Einstein, a frequent visitor to Southern California, called Hubble's work "beautiful" and modified his equations on relativity to account for the discovery that the cosmos is expanding.
"There was nothing dull about Hubble and there is nothing dull in this thoroughly researched biography. This is one of the most readable scientific biographies of recent years. Buy it."
"A readable, entertaining life of the brilliant astronomer whose work, fundamental to modern theories of the universe, never interfered with his self-promotion, pretension, and vanity."
-The New York Times, December 3rd 1995-Editor's Choice as one of the best 33 books of 1995
"A large telescope bearing Hubble's name now circles above our heads every 100 minutes. That and this volume serve as eloquent testimony to the achievements of the man. A book that deserves a place on many a bookshelf."
-The Australian and New Zealand Physicist
"Gale E. Christianson has written an exciting life of Edwin Hubble, filled with splendid descriptions and anecdotes. Only a first-class biographer would tell us that the two favourite books of his eminent scientist hero were 'King Solomon's Mines' and 'The Hound of the Baskervilles.'"
-The Daily Telegraph
"The story of Hubble's greatest breakthrough and what it led to is told with great style. Not only a masterly summary of Hubble's scientific achievements, but also a fascinating account of Hubble the man."
"Christianson has done an excellent job putting together this biography, full of illuminating sidelights and with copious references to further reading. This is an enjoyable read … should be in the personal collection of anyone with an interest in the recent history of astronomy."
"This is a fine biography of the outstanding astronomer of our time. Anyone interested in scientific matters will enjoy reading it."
-ASLIB Book Guide
"The story of this man [Hubble] and his work is told beautifully in this timely and thoroughly researched biography."
"I recommend this book to all who are interested in the history of astronomy and the personal lives and conflicts of the great scientists who made the exciting discoveries that form the basis of so much of modern astronomy and cosmology. It is well written, with a detailed bibliography and a detailed index. The low price and attractive sturdy binding of this volume should put it within the reach of even the modestly supported school library; it would make an ideal present for the individual with a liking for scientific biography. If no one buys it for you, pick up a copy for yourself."
"Gale Christianson's book is so far the best biography of Hubble."
-General Relativity and Gravitation
"Christianson's work is a pleasure to read. Jargon-free and requiring no mathematics, it reads more like a novel than a biography and reveals the man behind the scientist."
-The Library Journal
"A well-researched, well-informed, and revealing study of its complex, brilliant subject and his times; this is one of the most impressive scientific biographies of recent years."
An Awful Moment
A Thing So Outlandish
A Son of Queen's
The Cosmic Archipelago.
Mariner of the Nebulae
Your Husband's Work Is Beautiful
Almost a Miracle
Now Whom Do We Want to Meet?
Home Is the Sailor
Notes and Abbreviations of Frequently Used sources