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  1. 16.6 hrs • 9/20/2016 • Unabridged

    How a historic race gave birth to private space flight Alone in a Spartan black cockpit, test pilot Mike Melvill rocketed toward space. He had eighty seconds to exceed the speed of sound and begin the climb to a target no civilian pilot had ever reached. He might not make it back alive. If he did, he would make history as the world’s first commercial astronaut. The spectacle defied reason, the result of a competition dreamed up by entrepreneur Peter Diamandis, whose vision for a new race to space required small teams to do what only the world’s largest governments had done before. Peter Diamandis was the son of hardworking immigrants who wanted their science prodigy to make the family proud and become a doctor. But from the age of eight, when he watched Apollo 11 land on the Moon, his singular goal was to get to space. When he realized NASA was winding down manned space flight, Diamandis set out on one of the great entrepreneurial adventure stories of our time. If the government wouldn’t send him to space, he would create a private space flight industry himself. In the 1990s, this idea was the stuff of science fiction. Undaunted, Diamandis found inspiration in an unlikely place: the golden age of aviation. He discovered that Charles Lindbergh made his transatlantic flight to win a $25,000 prize. The flight made Lindbergh the most famous man on earth and galvanized the airline industry. Why, Diamandis thought, couldn’t the same be done for space flight? The story of the bullet-shaped SpaceShipOne, and the other teams in the hunt, is an extraordinary tale of making the impossible possible. It is driven by outsized characters—Burt Rutan, Richard Branson, John Carmack, Paul Allen—and obsessive pursuits. In the end, as Diamandis dreamed, the result wasn’t just a victory for one team; it was the foundation for a new industry. Today, SpaceShipOne hangs in the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, flanked by the Apollo 11 capsule and Lindbergh’s The Spirit of St. Louis.

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    How to Make a Spaceship

    Foreword by Elon Musk
    Read by Rob Shapiro
    16.6 hrs • 9/20/16 • Unabridged
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  2. 10.1 hrs • 9/20/2016 • Unabridged

    You are reading the word “now” right now. But what does that mean? What makes the ephemeral moment “now” so special? Its enigmatic character has bedeviled philosophers, priests, and modern-day physicists from Augustine to Einstein and beyond. Einstein showed that the flow of time is affected by both velocity and gravity, yet he despaired at his failure to explain the meaning of “now.” Equally puzzling: why does time flow? Some physicists have given up trying to understand, and call the flow of time an illusion, but the eminent experimentalist physicist Richard A. Muller protests. He says physics should explain reality, not deny it. In Now, Muller does more than poke holes in past ideas; he crafts his own revolutionary theory, one that makes testable predictions. He begins by laying out—with the refreshing clarity that made Physics for Future Presidents so successful—a firm and remarkably clear explanation of the physics building blocks of his theory: relativity, entropy, entanglement, antimatter, and the Big Bang. With the stage then set, he reveals a startling way forward. Muller points out that the standard Big Bang theory explains the ongoing expansion of the universe as the continuous creation of new space. He argues that time is also expanding and that the leading edge of the new time is what we experience as “now.” This thought-provoking vision has remarkable implications for some of our biggest questions, not only in physics but also in philosophy—including the ongoing debate about the reality of free will. Moreover, his theory is testable. Muller’s monumental work will spark major debate about the most fundamental assumptions of our universe, and may crack one of physics’s longest-standing enigmas.

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    Now

    by Richard A. Muller
    read by Christopher Grove
    10.1 hrs • 9/20/16 • Unabridged
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  3. 1 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5 (1)
    8.4 hrs • 4/26/2016 • Unabridged

    Mapping the Heavens provides a tour of the “greatest hits” of cosmological discoveries—the ideas that reshaped our universe over the past century. The cosmos, once understood as a stagnant place filled with the ordinary, is now a universe that is expanding at an accelerating pace, propelled by dark energy and structured by dark matter. Priyamvada Natarajan, our guide to these ideas, is at the forefront of the research—an astrophysicist who literally creates maps of invisible matter in the universe. She not only explains for a wide audience the science behind these essential ideas but also provides an understanding of how radical scientific theories gain acceptance. The formation and growth of black holes, dark matter halos, the accelerating expansion of the universe, the echo of the big bang, the discovery of exoplanets, and the possibility of other universes—these are some of the puzzling cosmological topics of the early twenty-first century. Natarajan discusses why the acceptance of new ideas about the universe and our place in it has never been linear and always contested even within the scientific community. And she affirms that, shifting and incomplete as science always must be, it offers the best path we have toward making sense of our wondrous, mysterious universe.

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    Mapping the Heavens by Priyamvada Natarajan

    Mapping the Heavens

    Read by Elisabeth Rodgers
    8.4 hrs • 4/26/16 • Unabridged
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  4. 12.5 hrs • 10/27/2015 • Unabridged

    In this brilliant exploration of our cosmic environment, renowned particle physicist and bestselling author of Warped Passages and Knocking on Heaven’s Door, Lisa Randall uses her research into dark matter to illuminate the startling connections between the furthest reaches of space and life here on Earth. Sixty-six million years ago, an object the size of a city descended from space to crash into Earth, creating a devastating cataclysm that killed off the dinosaurs, along with three-quarters of the other species on the planet. What was its origin? In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, Lisa Randall proposes it was a comet that was dislodged from its orbit as the solar system passed through a disk of dark matter embedded in the Milky Way. In a sense, it might have been dark matter that killed the dinosaurs. Working through the background and consequences of this proposal, Randall shares with us the latest findings—established and speculative—regarding the nature and role of dark matter and the origin of the universe, our galaxy, our solar system, and life, along with the process by which scientists explore new concepts. In Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, Randall tells a breathtaking story that weaves together the history of the cosmos and our own history, illuminating the deep relationships that are critical to our world and the astonishing beauty inherent in the most familiar things.

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    Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs

    12.5 hrs • 10/27/15 • Unabridged
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  5. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    6.2 hrs • 4/28/2015 • Unabridged

    For more than half a century, physicists and astronomers engaged in heated dispute over the possibility of black holes in the universe. The weirdly alien notion of a space-time abyss from which nothing escapes—not even light—seemed to confound all logic. This engrossing book tells the story of the fierce black hole debates and the contributions of Einstein, Hawking, and other leading thinkers who completely altered our view of the universe. Renowned science writer Marcia Bartusiak shows how the black hole helped revive Einstein’s greatest achievement, the general theory of relativity, after decades during which it had been pushed into the shadows. Not until astronomers discovered such surprising new phenomena as neutron stars and black holes did the once-sedate universe transform into an Einsteinian cosmos, filled with sources of titanic energy that can be understood only in the light of relativity. Celebrating the hundredth anniversary of general relativity, Black Hole uncovers how the black hole really got its name and recounts the scientists’ frustrating, exhilarating, and at times humorous battles over the acceptance of one of history’s most dazzling ideas.

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    Black Hole

    6.2 hrs • 4/28/15 • Unabridged
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  6. 0 reviews 0 5 5 5 out of 5 stars 5/5
    7.7 hrs • 2/24/2015 • Unabridged

    The story of the men and women who drove the Voyager spacecraft mission— told by a scientist who was there from the beginning Voyager 1 left the solar system in 2012; its sister craft, Voyager 2, will do so in 2015. The fantastic journey began in 1977, before the first episode of Cosmos aired. The mission was planned as a grand tour beyond the moon; beyond Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn; and maybe even into interstellar space. The fact that it actually happened makes this humanity’s greatest space mission. In The Interstellar Age, award-winning planetary scientist Jim Bell reveals what drove and continues to drive the members of this extraordinary team, including Ed Stone, Voyager’s chief scientist and the one-time head of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab; Charley Kohlhase, an orbital dynamics engineer who helped to design many of the critical slingshot maneuvers around planets that enabled the Voyagers to travel so far; and the geologist whose Earth-bound experience would prove of little help in interpreting the strange new landscapes revealed in the Voyagers’ astoundingly clear images of moons and planets. Speeding through space at a mind-bending eleven miles a second, Voyager 1 is now beyond our solar system’s planets. It carries with it artifacts of human civilization. By the time Voyager passes its first star in about 40,000 years, the gold record on the spacecraft, containing various music and images including Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode,” will still be playable.

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    The Interstellar Age

    Read by Jim Bell
    7.7 hrs • 2/24/15 • Unabridged
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  7. 7.0 hrs • 1/9/2015 • Unabridged

    Executive producer and theoretical physicist Kip Thorne presents a journey through the otherworldly science behind Christopher Nolan’s multiaward-winning movie Interstellar. The Academy Award-winning film Interstellar, from acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, takes us on a fantastic voyage far beyond our solar system. Yet in The Science of Interstellar, Kip Thorne, the physicist who assisted Nolan on the scientific aspects of Interstellar, shows us that the movie’s jaw-dropping events and stunning, never-before-attempted visuals are grounded in real science. Thorne shares his experiences working as the science adviser on the film and then moves on to the science itself. In chapters on wormholes, black holes, interstellar travel, and much more, Thorne’s scientific insights—many of them triggered during the actual scripting and shooting of Interstellar—describe the physical laws that govern our universe and the truly astounding phenomena that those laws make possible.

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    The Science of Interstellar

    7.0 hrs • 1/9/15 • Unabridged
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  8. 1 reviews 0 5 4.7 4 out of 5 stars 4.7/5 (1)
    7.7 hrs • 10/21/2014 • Unabridged

    In the course of our enduring quest for knowledge about ourselves and our universe, we haven’t found answers to one of our most fundamental questions: Does life exist anywhere else in the universe? Ten years and billions of dollars in the making, the Mars rover Curiosity is poised to answer this all-important question. Here, Rob Manning, the project’s chief engineer, tells of bringing the groundbreaking spacecraft to life. Manning and his team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, tasked with designing a lander many times larger and more complex than any before, faced technical setbacks, fights over inadequate resources, and the challenges of leading an army of brilliant, passionate, and often frustrated experts. Manning’s fascinating personal account—which includes information from his exclusive interviews with leading Curiosity scientists—is packed with tales of revolutionary feats of science, technology, and engineering. Listeners experience firsthand the disappointment at encountering persistent technical problems, the agony of near defeat, the sense of victory at finding innovative solutions to these problems, the sheer terror of staking careers and reputations on a lander that couldn’t be tested on Earth, and the rush of triumph at its successful touchdown on Mars on August 5, 2012. This is the story of persistence, dedication, and unrelenting curiosity.

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    Mars Rover Curiosity by Rob Manning, William L. Simon

    Mars Rover Curiosity

    7.7 hrs • 10/21/14 • Unabridged
    1 reviews 0 5 4.7 4 out of 5 stars 4.7/5 (1)
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  9. 12.8 hrs • 9/24/2014 • Unabridged

    John Brockman brings together the world’s best-known physicists and science writers—including Brian Greene, Walter Isaacson, Nobel Prize-winner Frank Wilczek, Benoit Mandelbrot, and Martin Rees—to explain the universe in all wondrous splendor. In The Universe, today’s most influential science writers explain the science behind our evolving understanding of the universe and everything in it, including the cutting edge research and discoveries that are shaping our knowledge. Lee Smolin reveals how math and cosmology are helping us create a theory of the whole universe. Benoit Mandelbrot looks back on a career devoted to fractal geometry. Neil Turok analyzes the fundamental laws of nature, what came before the big bang, and the possibility of a unified theory. Seth Lloyd investigates the impact of computational revolutions and the informational revolution. Lawrence Krauss provides fresh insight into gravity, dark matter, and the energy of empty space. Brian Greene and Walter Isaacson illuminate the genius who revolutionized modern science: Albert Einstein. And much more. Explore the universe with some of today’s greatest minds: what it is, how it came into being, and what may happen next.

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    The Universe

    12.8 hrs • 9/24/14 • Unabridged
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  10. 1.5 hrs • 9/23/2014 • Unabridged

    From the big bang to black holes, from dark matter to dark energy, from the origins of the universe to its ultimate destiny, The Edge of the Sky tells the story of the most important discoveries and mysteries in modern cosmology—with a twist. The book’s lexicon is limited to the thousand most common words in the English language, even excluding physics, energy, galaxy, and universe. Through the eyes of a fictional scientist (Student-People) hunting for dark matter with one of the biggest telescopes (Big-Seers) on Earth (Home-World), cosmologist Roberto Trotta explores the most important ideas about our universe (All-There-Is) in language simple enough for anyone to understand. A unique blend of literary experimentation and science popularization, this delightful book is a perfect gift for any aspiring astronomer. The Edge of the Sky tells the story of the universe on a human scale, and the result is out of this world.

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    The Edge of the Sky by Roberto Trotta

    The Edge of the Sky

    1.5 hrs • 9/23/14 • Unabridged
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  11. 9.0 hrs • 9/9/2014 • Unabridged

    In the sixteenth century, Nicolaus Copernicus dared to go against the establishment by proposing that Earth rotates around the sun. Having demoted Earth from its unique position in the cosmos to one of mediocrity, Copernicus set in motion a revolution in scientific thought. This perspective has influenced our thinking for centuries. However, recent evidence challenges the Copernican Principle, hinting that we do in fact live in a special place, at a special time, as the product of a chain of unlikely events. But can we be significant if the sun is still just one of a billion trillion stars in the observable universe? And what if our universe is just one of a multitude of others—a single slice of an infinity of parallel realities? In The Copernicus Complex, the renowned astrophysicist Caleb Scharf takes us on a scientific adventure, from tiny microbes within the earth to distant exoplanets, probability theory, and beyond, arguing that there is a solution to this contradiction, a third way of viewing our place in the cosmos, if we weigh the evidence properly. As Scharf explains, we do occupy an unusual time in a fourteen-billion-year-old universe, in a somewhat unusual type of solar system surrounded by an ocean of unimaginable planetary diversity: hot Jupiters with orbits of less than a day, planet-size rocks spinning around dead stars, and a wealth of alien super-Earths. Yet life here is built from the most common chemistry in the universe, and we are a snapshot taken from billions of years of biological evolution. Bringing us to the cutting edge of scientific discovery, Scharf shows how the answers to fundamental questions of existence will come from embracing the peculiarity of our circumstance without denying the Copernican vision. With characteristic verve, Scharf uses the latest scientific findings to reconsider where we stand in the balance between cosmic significance and mediocrity, order and chaos. Presenting a compelling and bold view of our true status, The Copernicus Complex proposes a way forward in the ultimate quest: determining life’s abundance, not just across this universe but across all realities.

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    The Copernicus Complex

    9.0 hrs • 9/9/14 • Unabridged
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  12. 6.6 hrs • 3/1/2014 • Unabridged

    In Strange New Worlds, renowned astronomer Ray Jayawardhana brings news from the front lines of the epic quest to find planets—and alien life—beyond our solar system. Only in the past two decades, after millennia of speculation, have astronomers begun to discover planets around other stars—thousands in fact. Now they are closer than ever to unraveling distant twins of the Earth. In this book, Jayawardhana vividly recounts the stories of the scientists and the remarkable breakthroughs that have ushered in this extraordinary age of exploration. He describes the latest findings, including his own, that are challenging our view of the cosmos and casting new light on the origins and evolution of planets and planetary systems. He reveals how technology is rapidly advancing to support direct observations of Jupiter-like gas giants and super-Earths—rocky planets with several times the mass of our own planet—and how astronomers use biomarkers to seek possible life on other worlds. Strange New Worlds provides an insider’s look at the cutting-edge science of today’s planet hunters, our prospects for discovering alien life, and the debates and controversies at the forefront of extrasolar-planet research.

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    Strange New Worlds by Ray Jayawardhana

    Strange New Worlds

    6.6 hrs • 3/1/14 • Unabridged
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  13. 0 reviews 0 5 4.5 4 out of 5 stars 4.5/5
    3.9 hrs • 1/14/2014 • Unabridged

    From the acclaimed author of Einstein’s Dreams and Mr. g comes a meditation on the unexpected ways in which recent scientific findings have shaped our understanding of ourselves and our place in the cosmos. With all the passion, curiosity, and precise yet lyrical prose that have marked his previous books, Alan Lightman here explores the emotional and philosophical questions raised by discoveries in science, focusing most intently on the human condition and the needs of humankind. He looks at the difficult dialogue between science and religion, the conflict between our human desire for permanence and the impermanence of nature, the possibility that our universe is simply an accident, the manner in which modern technology has separated us from direct experience of the world, and our resistance to the view that our bodies and minds can be explained by scientific logic and laws. And behind all of these considerations is the suggestion—at once haunting and exhilarating—that what we see and understand of the world is only a tiny piece of the extraordinary, perhaps unfathomable whole.

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    The Accidental Universe by Alan Lightman

    The Accidental Universe

    3.9 hrs • 1/14/14 • Unabridged
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  14. 6.0 hrs • 12/10/2013 • Unabridged

    Detective thriller meets astrophysics in this adventure into neutrinos and the scientists who pursue them. For more than eighty years, brilliant and eccentric scientists around the world have been searching for the incredibly small bits of matter we call neutrinos. Trillions of these ghostly particles pass through our bodies every second, but they are so pathologically shy that neutrino hunters have to use Olympic-size pools deep underground and a gigantic cube of Antarctic ice to catch just a handful. Neutrinos may hold the secrets to the nature of antimatter and what the universe was like just seconds after the big bang, but they are extremely elusive and difficult to pin down—much like the adventurous scientists who doggedly pursue them. In Neutrino Hunters, renowned astrophysicist and award-winning author Ray Jayawardhana takes us on a thrilling journey into the shadowy world of neutrinos and the colorful lives of those who chase them. Demystifying particle science along the way, Jayawardhana tells a detective story with cosmic implications—interweaving the tales of the irascible Casanova Wolfgang Pauli; the troubled genius Ettore Majorana, who disappeared without a trace; and Bruno Pontecorvo, whose defection to the Soviet Union caused a Cold War ruckus. Ultimately, Jayawardhana reveals just how significant these fast-moving particles are to the world we live in and why the next decade of neutrino hunting will redefine how we think about physics, cosmology, and our lives on Earth.

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    Neutrino Hunters by Ray Jayawardhana

    Neutrino Hunters

    6.0 hrs • 12/10/13 • Unabridged
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  15. 9.7 hrs • 10/3/2013 • Unabridged

    From science writer Lee Billings, an intimate history of Earth and the quest for life beyond the solar system. Since its formation nearly five billion years ago, our planet has been the sole living world in a vast and silent universe. Now Earth’s isolation is coming to an end. Over the past two decades, astronomers have discovered thousands of “exoplanets” orbiting other stars, including some that could be similar to our own world. Studying those distant planets for signs of life will be crucial to understanding life’s intricate mysteries right here on Earth. In a firsthand account of this unfolding revolution, Lee Billings draws on interviews with top researchers. He reveals how the search for other Earthlike planets is not only a scientific pursuit but also a reflection of our culture’s timeless hopes, dreams, and fears. This is a compelling story of the pioneers seeking the meaning of life in the infinite depths of space.

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    Five Billion Years of Solitude

    9.7 hrs • 10/3/13 • Unabridged
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  16. 3.5 hrs • 8/6/2013 • Unabridged

    From the competitive spirit ignited by Sputnik to the tragedies and triumphs of the Apollo missions, from the technological leap forward created by the Space Shuttle to the global cooperation forged by the International Space Station and beyond, NPR examines the inspirational story of modern space exploration and the extraordinary individuals who made it possible. Featuring in-depth profiles of landmark missions, along with interviews and commentary from voices that have lived the dream, including astronauts John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Frank Borman, Bernard Harris, Sallie Ride, and many more.

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