Cover: A Thin Cosmic Rain: Particles from Outer Space, from Harvard University PressCover: A Thin Cosmic Rain in E-DITION

A Thin Cosmic Rain

Particles from Outer Space

Available from De Gruyter »

Product Details


$65.00 • £54.95 • €60.00

ISBN 9780674332546

Publication Date: 11/17/2000

241 pages

43 halftones, 30 line illustrations, 7 tables


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Michael Friedlander, a physicist of international stature, has understandably chosen to concentrate on the area of cosmic radiation research that he knows best: the nuclear physics of particle interactions. In an excellent survey of the complex and fascinating history of the subject, he gives a blow-by-blow account of the discoveries and the details of what he calls ‘a disproportionately large number of Nobel prizes’ in this field. His readers, and he deserves to have many, will learn about increasingly elegant detection techniques, about cosmic rays from the sun, the energy spectra of the particles and details of the tiny—but important—flux of gamma rays.—Arnold Wolfendale, New Scientist

In this expanded and completely revised edition of his earlier book, Cosmic Rays, Friedlander incorporates new data amassed over the past decade. The result is a compelling account of our understanding of cosmic rays. He considers the many ways these rays have an impact on our planet and its inhabitants…[and] the place of cosmic rays in several continuing mysteries of astrophysics.Science News

[A Thin Cosmic Rain] is a useful popular introduction to contemporary understanding of the nature of cosmic rays and to the realms of the universe that produce and modify them.—David DeVorkin, Isis

Friedlander offers general readers and amateur scientists a historical survey of our understanding of cosmic rays and what they reveal about the solar system and the universe. He discusses the origins of these high-energy particles, how they are detected, and their effects on Earth and its organisms.Science

Describes the history of cosmic ray research, from the first pioneering balloon flight of Victor Hess in 1911 to the detection of neutrinos from supernova 1987A, and includes the latest discoveries. The study of cosmic rays has been a long-running detective story… Together, these observations provide a more complex picture of remarkable violence in the cosmos, and point to mysteries still waiting to be solved.The Astronomical Society of the Pacific

Cosmic rays have been an energetic arena for astrophysics research for the past century, which history physicist Friedlander traces. A theme of his story is the technology of detection, for snaring a proton moving nearly at light speed is ‘no mean trick’… Mysterious as well is what creates [cosmic rays] (supernovas are strong candidates), and the drive to find out makes comic rays most productive of Ph.D.s and Nobel Prizes… A detailed, informative survey of the topic.—Gilbert Taylor, Booklist

Many people think of ‘cosmic rays’ as mysterious extraterrestrial radiation… Actually, as Friedlander explains, cosmic radiation comprises a bestiary of rather ordinary subatomic particles… Friedlander reviews the many different kinds of radiation in comprehensive detail, interspersing throughout his technical taxonomy fascinating examples of how research into these visitors from distant stars has yielded many useful terrestrial applications… Friedlander writes very fluidly for the nonspecialist… The book will appeal to science buffs interested in cosmology, particle physics, archeology, even nuclear medicine. It should establish itself as a standard work in the field of cosmic radiation, so it will be a must-buy for libraries with broad science collections.Publishers Weekly

A complete account of the phenomena and participants involved with unravelling the mysteries of the cosmic rays—from their early key role in particle physics, to the current quest for the astrophysical origins and nature of the highest energy particles known in nature.—Jonathan E. Grindlay, Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University

In his engaging description of energetic particles from outer space, Professor Friedlander has brought the exotic cosmic rays down to earth. He has shown how the galactic cosmic rays are intimately connected to a wide variety of natural phenomena, ranging from elementary particles to stellar explosions.—Maurice M. Shapiro, Laboratory for Cosmic Physics at the Naval Research Laboratory, International School of Cosmic-Ray Astrophysics, and the University of Maryland

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, by Anthony Abraham Jack, from Harvard University Press

Book Club Spotlight: The Privileged Poor

As students around the world deliberate their options for further education, only made more challenging in a pandemic, we’re reminded that getting in is only half the battle. In The Privileged Poor: How Elite Colleges Are Failing Disadvantaged Students, Anthony Abraham Jack asks how—and why—do disadvantaged students struggle at elite colleges? What can schools can do differently if these students are to thrive? As back to school season begins, we spoke to two university book clubs that read and discussed The Privileged Poor this summer.