Jeans, James

The Mysterious Universe

  • First edition, first impression of this elegant Art Deco style volume on cosmology, uncommon in the dust jacket. Author James Jeans (1877-1946) was a respected Cambridge mathematician and astronomer, best known for his work on rotating, gravitational bodies, " a problem of fundamental importance that had already been tackled by some of the leading mathematicians" (ODNB), and the motions, structures, and life-cycles of stars and stellar clusters. "In 1928 Jeans's academic work Astronomy and Cosmogony came to the attention of S. C. Roberts, the secretary of Cambridge University Press, who appreciated the general interest of its subject matter and the attraction of Jeans's writing style. He persuaded Jeans to write a popular account, The Universe Around Us, which was published by the press in 1929" (ODNB). Jeans's popularity as a writer "depended partly on his topic—new, thought provoking views of the universe—and partly on his style, which combined an authoritative knowledge of the subject with a vivid turn of phrase" (ODNB). The present volume was the second of Jeans's works for a general readership, and is an expanded version of the Rede Lecture he gave at Cambridge in 1930. It includes chapters on the origin of our solar system, "the new world of modern physics", the relationship between matter and energy, relativity theory, and the structure of the universe, and is illustrated throughout by stylish Art Deco woodcuts. The book proved to be so popular that Jeans's conclusion, ‘the Great Architect of the Universe now begins to appear as a pure mathematician’, has often been quoted (ODNB). An attractive copy of this under-appreciated book.
  • New York & Cambridge: The Macmillan Company; Cambridge University Press, 1930. Octavo. Original black cloth, titles to spine and upper board in red, pictorial endpapers. With the dust jacket. Frontispiece and 6 woodcut plates, woodcut head-pieces, diagrams within the text. Cloth generally fresh, with just a little wear at the tips, contents faintly toned. An excellent copy in the very good, price-clipped jacket that is a little rubbed and toned with some nicks and short splits repaired with tape on the verso.

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