Physics and Chemistry of the Solar System
A great book loaded with practical information.
|von John S. Lewis|
Chapters: I. Introduction; II. Astronomical Perspective; III. General Description of the Solar System; IV. The Sun and the Solar Nebula; V. The Major Planets; VI. Pluto and the Icy Satellites of the Outer Planets; VII. Comets and Meteors; VIII. Meteorites and Asteroids; IX. The Airless Rocky Bodies: Io, Phobos, Deimos, the Moon, and Mercury; X. The Terrestrial Planets: Mars, Venus, and Earth; XI. Planets and Life about Other Stars; XII. Future Prospects; Appendices; Suggested Reading; Index
This book discusses the physics and chemistry of the Solar System in great detail. It assumes that the reader has completed one year of mathematics, physics, and chemistry at the university level. Appropriate physics and chemistry formulas and equations are sprinkled throughout the book. The focus is on practicality, not on rigorous derivation: Formulas are often introduced with a phrase like "It can be shown that...", though some key concepts are discussed in more math! ematical detail in the appendices. For the reader who wants more, the "Suggested Reading" section lists many more publications dealing with aspects of the subject matter of this book, ranging in intended readership between non-mathematical and professional scientific.
The text is informative and to the point. Inclusion of many results from recent space missions to various planets, asteroids, and comets is evident. The author includes many pictures (mostly in black and white) of (parts of) the planets and other discussed celestial bodies. Also included are a great number of plots and diagrams that illustrate points made in the text. Many provide specific information on characteristics of the materials being discussed. I particularly like these diagrams: A general discussion of, for instance, the different kinds of water ice is interesting in its own right, but the inclusion of a diagram where you can look up your own favorite combination of temperature and press! ure to find which kind of water ice exists under those cond! itions allows you to consider also many situations that are not explicitly treated in the text.
The book starts with a discussion that puts the Solar System in a wider astronomical context (involving galaxies and the universe at large), and ends (after extensive discussion of the members of the Solar System) with a discussion of the physics and chemistry of life and planets around other stars, and of the future prospects for answering remaining questions about our celestial neighbors. Some exercises are included at the end of each chapter.
The only negative point I found about this book is that it does not discuss the one topic I was looking for when I bought it: the physics of the shape of celestial bodies. For instance, why can Mars support much taller mountains that the Earth? How irregular can the shape be of a moon or asteroid, depending on its size? This certainly falls within the scope of the title. Nevertheless, the great wealth and practicality of the other i! nformation contained in this volume ensure that I do not at all regret buying it.
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