The Astrophysics Spectator

Issue 2.10, March 9, 2005

Home Commentary Surveys Research Background Previously Site Info
Logo for The Astrophysics Spectator.

The basic layout of the site is as survey paths, which can be found under the Surveys link at the top of this and most other pages on this site. Each survey begins with a basic overview of the subject. Part of this overview include simulators of astrophysical phenomena that allow the reader to experiment with the phenomena. The later pages in a survey present the subject in greater and more mathematical depth. A path ends with research pages that describe current research projects and results in astrophysics.

The links at the top of each page are Home, which is the current home page of this site, Commentary, which is an index of short essays on topics loosely related to astrophysics, Surveys, which is the index of survey paths, Research, which is the index of research pages and the page leading to recent news items, Background, which is the index page for all background information on astrophysics, including survey pages, simulator pages, tables, bibliographic references, and lists of web resources, Previously, which is an index of previous home pages, and Site Info, which describes the site and its author, and gives contact information.

On the home page is found an addition link. This is the Store link, which leads to reviews of worthwhile books on astronomy and other relates subjects. Links on these pages enable the reader to buy these books from, which helps to financially sustain this web site.

Each Wednesday, a new issue of The Astrophysics Spectator is published that comprises a new home page, a new commentary, whatever news the author notices, and background, research, and simulator pages added to the survey paths. The home page acts as an index to the newly added pages. This site also has an RSS channel, whose link is given at the bottom of the right-hand column of this page.

March 9, 2005

This week I introduce The Astrophysics Spectator store. The link to the store page is given by the Store link at the top of this page. At this time, the only link to the store is from this page and from subpages of the store page.

The store is a collection of books on astronomy, astrophysics, and the Java computer language that I believe are worth owning. There are direct links from each book description to Amazon, where the book can be bought. If you buy a book after following one of these links or one of the In Association with image links, you will financially support this web site.

The top level store page gives a list of subjects in a menu box and a set of recent book suggestions. The index page for each subject item gives a list of book reviews, each of which describes why a book is worthwhile, the shortcomings of the book, and the intended audience of the book. Any book recommendation encountered on this web site will have a corresponding page under the store page.

I open the store with five books. The books range from the introductory to the technical. I hope to expand these pages so that every subject has a suggested book for every reader, whether he is a novice or a researcher.

In this week's commentary I argue that tenure and a tight job market discourage the exploration of unorthodox theories.

Jim Brainerd


Jobs, Tenure, and Academic Freedom. Tenure is often regarded as a safeguard of academic freedom. I believe that tenure combined with the persistently tight job market for permanent academic positions reinforces orthodoxy within the scientific community and discourages unconventional thinking. I lay out my reasoning in this week's commentary. (continue)


The TAS Store. The main page for The Astrophysics Spectator store contains a subject index and several current reading recommendations. The items in the TAS store are available from Amazon through the links paired with the items. By following these links and purchasing an item from Amazon, you help financially support this web site. (continue)


The Stars. By H. A. Rey. A guide to identifying the constellations, this book is aimed at the casual stargazer. This book is particularly suited to introducing a teenager to the stars. (continue)

Norton's 2000.0 Star Atlas and Reference Handbook. Edited by Ian Ridpath. This star atlas provides star maps that are accompanied by lists of interesting objects. The handbook section of the book provides an introduction to amateur astronomy, the moon, the planets, the stars, and the galaxies. This is an excellent first atlas for use with a small telescope. (continue)

Principles of Stellar Evolution and Nucleosynthesis. By Donald C. Clayton. This classic textbook on stellar structure has been with us since 1968. The book is suitable for technically-minded readers with a strong background in differential calculus. The book is not excessively mathematical. (continue)

The Java Programming Language. By Ken Arnold, James Gosling, and David Holmes. This is a rich introductory book on programming in the Java computer language, written by the creators of the language. (continue)

Concurrent Programming in Java. By Doug Lea. This book describes and illustrates design methods that give robust multi-threaded applications in the Java computer language. While explicitly about Java, these techniques can be generally applied to other languages that allow the use of multiple threads that concurrently execute code. (continue)


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