Solar System Astronomy in America: Communities, Patronage, and Interdisciplinary Science, 1920-1960

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Cambridge University Press, Feb 15, 1996 - Science - 280 pages
Between 1920 and 1960 astronomers began working with scientists in other fields to improve their understanding of the nature of the solar system. Well before the launch of Sputnik, researchers made wide-ranging attempts to solve such problems as the nature of lunar and terrestrial craters, the origin of comets and meteors, and the birth of the solar family. Their achievements included the Oort cloud and Kuiper belt concepts. Cooperation among specialists often dissolved in controversy - including the famous Kuiper-Urey conflict over the Moon's history - yet their work provided the foundation for planetary science in the space age. Exploiting previously unused archival material, Ronald E. Doel investigates the emergence of this interdisciplinary scientific community and its influence on research in astronomy, meteorology, geology, and geophysics. He examines how studies in planetary science were influenced by shifts in institutional mandates, new research techniques, and government-military funding during the cold war. One example analyzed is the challenge to the geological doctrine of uniformitarianism that emerged in light of cold-war weapons research. Above all, this book explores an important branch of earth science, central to what we now call the environmental sciences.

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User Review  - tungsten_peerts - LibraryThing

This is a solid, useful book -- a historical overview of a particular discipline in American astronomy, at a particular time. There are few if any thrills -- Doel doesn't really bring the ... Read full review

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