Empire of Light: A History of Discovery in Science and Art (Compass Series)

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9780309065566: Empire of Light: A History of Discovery in Science and Art (Compass Series)

In Empire of Light, Sidney Perkowitz combines the expertise of a physicist with the vision of an art connoisseur and the skill of an accomplished writer to offer a unique view of the most fundamental feature of the universe: light.

Empire of Light discusses the nature of light, how the eye sees, and how our understanding of these phenomena have emerged over the ages, including the role of light in the development of quantum physics. The author examines the making of electrical light and its integration into commerce, telecommunications, entertainment, medicine, warfare, and every other aspect of our daily lives. And he presents the role of light in the search for the beginning and the end of the universe, as astronomers with their instruments penetrate ever deeper into the sky.

Visible light spans the spectrum between infrared and ultraviolet, but this book reaches across many other spectra as well--from the cave paintings at Lascaux to Mark Rothko's stark blocks of color in today's art museums, from Plato's speculation that the eye sends out rays to Ramon y Cajal's discovery that vision actually works in the opposite way, from Tycho Brahe's elegant antetelescope measurements of planet positions to the Hubble telescope's exquisite sensitivity to light from billions of light years away.

What are the biological and neurological processes of perceiving visible light? How does a person typically scan a scene? Do you see red or blue the same way I do? What are our physiological reactions and emotional responses to light? Perkowitz explores these and many other fascinating questions, drawing together the experiences, achievements, and perspectives of a diverse cast of characters, including Galileo, Einstein, Newton, Van Gogh, and Edison.

Empire of Light is written so that lay readers will readily grasp the scientific principles and science professionals will readily appreciate the human experience. It will impart new wonder to the daily experience of light in our world.

Sidney Perkowitz is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Physics at Emory University. His work has appeared in national publications such as The Sciences, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The American Prospect, and Technology Review.

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About the Author:

by Sidney Perkowitz; A Joseph Henry Press book

From Kirkus Reviews:

A physicist's view of light, the most pervasive form of energy in our universe, and a force that has shaped human life and consciousness from the very beginning. From the outset, Perkowitz (Physics/Emory Univ.) shows not only an ability to express his subject clearly, but a fine awareness of light's appeal to our esthetic senses. After a quick glance at the many instances of light in his life--from the huge lasers with which he works to the emotional impact of colored light in such films as The Wizard of Oz--the author turns to the complex physiological process of perceiving light and color. The range of vibrations in visible light is comparatively narrow, less than a tenth of what a modest stereo system can produce in terms of sound vibrations. Our nervous system makes up for that apparent narrowness with a series of ingenious adaptations: The cone cells in the retina respond only to motion, whereas the rods embody all our awareness of color. They feed their data to the visual cortex, which contains ten times the number of neurons as the auditory system. Interpreting and explaining what we see has occupied science since the earliest days, when it was widely believed that the eye itself generated a beam of light that made vision possible. At the same time, artists were pursuing their own investigations of light, from Caravaggio's dramatically darkened scenes to Renoir's electrically lit interiors to van Gogh's rapt evocations of natural light and color. A fascinating chapter looks at how various chemicals alter the composition of light to produce the colors we see, both in the natural world and in painting. Invisible light--infrared, ultraviolet, X-ray--plays a role in the story, as well. Perkowitz knows when to connect a scientific summary with a mundane example and shows a fine appreciation for the link between the physicist's and the artist's views of light. Smoothly written, comprehensive, and thoroughly enjoyable. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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A Joseph Henry Press book, Sidney Perkow
Editorial: Joseph Henry Press (1998)
ISBN 10: 0309065569 ISBN 13: 9780309065566
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Descripción Joseph Henry Press, 1998. Paperback. Estado de conservación: New. Never used!. Nº de ref. de la librería P110309065569

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A Joseph Henry Press book; Perkowitz, Sidney
Editorial: Joseph Henry Press
ISBN 10: 0309065569 ISBN 13: 9780309065566
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Descripción Joseph Henry Press. PAPERBACK. Estado de conservación: New. 0309065569 New Condition. Nº de ref. de la librería NEW7.1017290

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