Richard Panek

Seeing and Believing: How the Telescope Opened Our Eyes and Minds to the Heavens

Excerpt:

Tube of lead, two disks of glass: The answer, when at last it arrived, was simplicity itself. For several years lenses of the right shape had lain within reach of anyone entering a spectacle maker's shop. For three centuries spectacles themselves had been popularizing the magnifying properties of curved glass. For the past couple of millennia it had been common knowledge that if you want to eliminate distracting light and concentrate your powers of observation on a distant object, use a tube. In many ways the arrival of this latest wonder in an age of wonders was only a matter of time. Not so the transformation it then underwent. That, nobody could have foreseen, even though the one ingredient essential for the conversion of this potential plaything into an instrument of mathematical and philosophical investigation—for its invention as the telescope, in effect—presumably had been present at the Creation: curiosity about a Creator.

"A deft and beautiful book! Panek has turned his considerable talent to the subject of telescopes, their history, and how they changed our universe, and he's hit a sweet spot of poetry and science. Seeing and Believingis about vision in its deepest sense."
—Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone

"Mr. Panek writes about science with practiced fluency. To convey this as vividly as he does requires a skill just as demanding as the ability to explain new developments, namely a capacity to imagine and make clear how people saw things in the past."
The New York Times

"This is a gem of a book. Elegant, informative, provocative, and beautifully written."
—Alan Lightman, author of Einstein's Dreams

"Panek's history of the revolution wrought by the telescope is a beautiful piece of writing, prose as transparent as a high-grade optic. Reading it will truly open your eyes."
—Portland Oregonian

Selected Works

Books
The behind-the-scenes story of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics
Goodreads Choice Award for Best Nonfiction Book of 2013 and a New York Times bestseller
A brief history of how we found our place in the universe
An original look at two of the most important revolutions—and revolutionaries—of modern life.
The true story of a Major League battle for the heart of America.
Blog
Serious and silly musings on modern science...or whatever.

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