The Planets (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Dava Sobel’s talent for portraying scientific advances within their cultural contexts made her earlier books international best sellers. In Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time (1995), she dramatized not only John Harrison’s invention of the chronometer and but also his agonizing struggle for recognition. In Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love (1999), she illuminated Galileo Galilei’s unfailing devotion to his religion and family as well as to science. In her recent work The Planets, she once again explores the human dimension of her subject, combining her personal attraction to the study of planets with a survey of their factual and not infrequently fabulous cultural dimensions.
Modern astronomers have employed technology to refine scientific descriptions of the planets, the sun, and the solar system as a whole, providing new data that reverberate with cosmic energy. In The Planets, Sobel reveals how traditional notions of the heavens relate to these new discoveries. Her chapter titles suggest her method, as she discusses the Sun in “Genesis,” Mars in “Sci-Fi,” Uranus and Neptune in “Night Air,” and so on.
Sobel opens by recalling the origins of her fascination with the planets in the chapter “Model Worlds.” During elementary school in the 1950’s, she became enamored of the planets, seeing...
(The entire section is 1659 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
Atlanta Journal and Constitution, October 2, 2005, p. L5.
Booklist 101, no. 22 (August 1, 2005): 1950-1951.
Kirkus Reviews 73, no. 14 (July 15, 2005): 783.
Library Journal 130, no. 13 (August 15, 2005): 118.
Los Angeles Times, October 30, 2005, p. R6.
Nature 437 (September 29, 2005): 623.
The New York Times 155 (October 19, 2005): E9.
Publishers Weekly 252, no. 40 (October 10, 2005): 22-23.
Sky & Telescope 110, no. 4 (October, 2005): 104-105.
The Wall Street Journal 246, no. 90 (October 28, 2005): W6.
(The entire section is 51 words.)