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The Sun's Heartbeat: And Other Stories from the Life of the Star That Powers Our Planet

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  281 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
The beating heart of the sun is the very pulse of life on earth. And from the ancients who plotted its path at Stonehenge to the modern scientists who unraveled the nuclear fusion reaction that turns mass into energy, humankind has sought to solve its mysteries. In this lively biography of the sun, Bob Berman ranges from its stellar birth to its spectacular future death wi ...more
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Published July 13th 2011 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2011)
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May 11, 2016 Lemar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great science writers infect you with their curiosity and enthusiasm for their subject. Bob Berman does this in a book that is informative and funny as he conveys knowledge about his awe inspiring subject, our Sun. While never stenting on supplying the astounding facts and figures, he takes time to talk about man's relationship with our star today and throughout history.

There is a total eclipse coming in August 2017 across most of the USA. After reading this book, there's no way I will miss it!
I like getting my mind blown and this description of how the sun works and how it affects us was just the ticket (did you know rainbows aren't a real tangible thing but only exist between the eye, sun and rain? If you weren't there there wouldn't be a rainbow!). Relatively easy to read with quirky anecdotes. The author is very personal, and that usually makes it entertaining though a few times it got in the way.
Jul 29, 2012 Diana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Много ми е трудно да определя какво точно представлява тази книга - история на света, Земята и вселената или учебник по почти всичко. Информацията, както научна, така и свързана с ежедневието ни, е много като обем, но поднесена увлекателно и ненатоварващо. Боб Бърман успява да я побере в поносим и недоскучаващ обем страници, всяка от които отваря апетит за четене. Ако работата ми се състоеше предимно в присъствие пред монитора в офиса, бих жертвала с удоволствие две нощи сън между първата и посл ...more
Jan 19, 2012 Charity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
if you are at all interested in the sun and like me have no real science background to your curiousity i think you will really like this book. I've said it before I love books written by science reporters and this guy can't seem to reign in his doofy sense of humor (isn't that what editors are for?) But back to the sun, lots of great info about the history of our understanding the sun. Awesome and I'm only half way through
John Gribbin

Books about science for the lay reader have to strike a balance between being dull but informative and being entertaining but accurate. At one extreme, a little dullness can be forgiven if the information is amazing; at the other, a few factual errors can be forgiven if the book is a good read. Bob Berman tilts towards the latter end of the spectrum. He gets full marks for entertainment, but his book should carry a health warning concerning some of the “facts”. Since it doesn’t, part of my job i
Orbs n Rings
Sep 09, 2011 Orbs n Rings rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
An amazing look at the sun, its effects on our planet, civilization and where the sun is taking us.

The Sun's Heartbeat had my full interest from the beginning to the absolute end. At first Berman digs into the past, as he talks about the first discoveries of the planets, telescope, sun spots and the even the birth of our solar system and sun. Naming those quirky little men, even those before and during Galileo's lifetime, who were at the forefront of scientific discoveries. Some of whom were ne
Apr 28, 2013 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, cosmos, astronomy
The Sun's Heartbeat: and Other Stories from the Life of the Star that Powers Our Planet
2011 pages
290 pages

Consider the sun. For thousands of generations, it has loomed over our kind, radiating heat and light down from above, illuminating our lives and stimulating growth. The ancients worshipped the sun, and not without cause: its description as the giver of life is more literal than poetic. Such is the strength of the sun that it crosses a chasm of 93 million miles in only eight seconds, and its
Lis Carey
This is a highly readable account of the science of our nearest and most important star, and the stories behind how we have learned all that we know about it. Berman starts with such basics as how we tracked the Sun's movement through our sky and how it governs our agricultural year, to figuring out that it was Earth, not the Sun, that moved, to the latest very startling and disquieting observations of changes in the Sun and how those changes affect us.

And he does it all with stories, stories of
Alyce (At Home With Books)
Never before would I have imagined that a scientific book about the sun could grab my attention, but Bob Berman’s entertaining explanations had me eager to return to this book time and again. I wish that I would have had a science teacher as gifted as he at capturing my imagination and curiosity. If I had, who knows, I might have actually pursued science courses in high school and college instead of avoiding them at all costs. This book was a refreshing departure from the sleep-inducing classes ...more
Bob Berman's book of historical and late-breaking information about the Sun is at once interesting, frustrating, and downright annoying.

There is some interesting material on new thinking around skin cancer and vitamin D, the rediscovery of forgotten theories, and several chapters covering the array of scientific satellites monitoring the sun. This is all good.

In many of the other chapters, however, the author frustratingly devotes much material to debunking myths such as astrology, full moon ba
May 30, 2011 Doreen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all ages interested in a simplified understanding of the sun
Recommended to Doreen by: Goodreads Giveaway!!
This book offers an easily understandable way to learn about the sun. For the non-scientific mind, the book is informative and impressive. The author gives the sun's history, its composition, and its effects on the earth, as well as on the rest of the Solar System.

Throughout the book, the author offers silly one-liners that are pretty hokey. However, this style of writing helped me to enjoy reading this abundance of historical and scientific information. Without his corny interjections, it would
Paul Sheckarski
Aug 20, 2011 Paul Sheckarski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A rich survey of the Sun for the layperson.

Some info gets reiterated in later chapters. I assume each chapter was written as its own self-contained essay or article and were later combined into a book. The reiteration seems the result of insufficient editing, uncharacteristic of the rest of the book.*

Berman has a fun sense of humor, and likes to contrast the scientific discoveries he discusses with the researchers' human realities: their marital difficulties, their rivalries, their own sense of
Aug 10, 2012 Lammoth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Представете си, че имаме една масивна звезда като Ригел от стъпалото на Орион. Тя е 17 пъти по-тежка от слънцето и съответно живее едва 7 милиона години, превръщайки водорода в хелий (следващия елемент от таблицата), вследствие на ядрения синтез. Като изразходва целия си водород започва да гори самият хелий, като от този процес се получават въглерод и кислород, а звездата живее още 700 хиляди години. След което кислородът се превръща в силиций, а силицият
Feb 17, 2016 Elentarri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-cosmic
Informative and entertaining in a somewhat frivolous manner*. Too bad there aren't any diagrams/ graphs/ illustrations/ coloured photographs etc.

*Selected quotes from The Sun's Heartbeat by Bob Berman:

" Atoms have substantial, chewy centers made of protons and neutrons stuck together by the most powerful force in the universe, which, in the great poetic tradition of physics, is officially called the strong force."

"As the first humans acquired tools and an appreciation of minimalist cave art, the
Greg Talbot
Be thankful that the Sun is here. We may not have a holiday for it. We may not have a deity to praise it (unless you're holding on to Egyptian mythology - good ole Ra). We may never really look into it. But without it, we wouldn't have a shot.

Berman's torrid and vivid book detail our history with the sun. All the aspects of life that are effected by our relationship with this burning star, and the inevitable collapse of its, and life as we know it.

The historical aspects are interesting. Consider
Gary Sawyer
The book is interesting and informative. The author's sense of humor is fun, although there were a few spots where he was trying too hard to be either droll or pithy. The only real flaws, quite minor, were a few instances of sloppy (inaccurate) writing. At one point he says that to know how far Earth is from Jupiter, you just subtract the distance from the Earth to the Sun from the distance from the Sun to Jupiter. That, of course, is only true when Earth and Jupiter are both on the same side of ...more
Todd Allen
Aug 16, 2015 Todd Allen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding book filled with plenty of wit and wisdom. One among many highlights for me was Bob Berman’s debunking of the climate change deniers’ argument using our sun’s cyclic nature in supplying energy to the Earth as the reason for our planet’s temperature increase. Another was the profound nature of the experiences he and others have captured by witnessing total solar eclipses. (He’s viewed more than a couple around the world, and still puts his next viewing at the very top of his things to ...more
May 28, 2013 Kara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book. Lots of fascinating information, presented in a very accessible format, but sometimes I felt like it was a little TOO accessible. There were an awful lot of pop-culture references and jokes that made me feel like the author might be sitting next to me, waiting to see if I laughed, so he can reassure himself that he's funny. I would have been happy with a more straightforwardly scientific book. Also, there were parts where the author got excited about some aspect of solar scienc ...more
Jim Perry
Aug 25, 2011 Jim Perry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Berman really makes the physics of the sun extremely accessible to non-scientific readers. In fact, if you like deep scientific thoughts fortified with lots of delicious mathematics, this book is not for you.

Berman uses a (sometimes too) generous sense of hunor to drive home points and lighten up the factual information. Example: in describing the long timeframes associated with the future death of our sun (or any mid-sized star, for that matter), he has this to say:

"The Sun, starting to shrink,
Mar 14, 2013 Жор rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

С присъщия на човек интерес към разгадаване на мистерии и редене на пъзели, Боб Бърман разказва за Слънцето, за неговото влияние върху нас и драгоценната ни планета Земя. Пътуването започва от Древността, с нейните славни и безславни мислители и философи. Иронията е, че най-често имената, запомнени през вековете, са направили погрешни изводи, наблюдавайки звездите и търсейки мястото ни във Вселената(извинете клишето), но въпреки това моделите, измислени от
Sep 16, 2012 Stash! rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Все пак ни пече доста слънце, редно е да се поинтересуваме около какво всъщност се върти Земята с такова огромно желание.

Боб Бърман успява с лекота да ни въвлече в биографията на Слънцето - невероятното нещо, което до такава степен е част от живота ни, че едва му обръщаме нужното внимание. Астрофизикът си служи добре с думите и в книгата ще намерите изключително разнообразие от информация свързана с нашата звезда, със светлината, дори с очите ни.

"Пулсът на Слънцето" е една от онези книги, които
Johanna Bouchard
May 31, 2011 Johanna Bouchard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Astronomer Bob Berman has created a delightfully easy-to-read, easy-to-comprehend book about our most revered celestial object in his book "The Sun's Heartbeat". But don't let this book's lighthearted simplicity fool you- it is absolutely packed full of the most fascinating information I'm sure you've never heard. For example, did you know that the sun reverses it's polarity every 22 years? Or that it loses 4 Million tons of itself every second? Berman manages to take a somewhat dry subject and ...more
Owen Spencer
Jul 01, 2012 Owen Spencer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative, entertaining, worthwhile. I enjoyed this book and learned plenty of useful information from it. For a science book, this author has a very light tone that makes for fun and easy reading. Major take home message: Man-made carbon dioxide interacts with the sun and the Earth's atmosphere to increase global temperatures (i.e., low temperatures during winters are not nearly as low as they used to be). 2nd take home message: Solar and other cosmic storms could destroy much of our technolo ...more
Oct 16, 2011 Lily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
There are two books in The Sun's Heartbeat running concurrently with each other along parallel lines. One book is an interesting and informative read on the "star that powers our planet." The other book is a series of uneven attempts at arbitrarily injecting "humorous" one-liner non sequiturs, some of which are pop culture references that will only continue to make sense if Justin Bieber stays forever relevant. Maybe one day, The Sun's Heartbeat can ultimately reach a point in space and time whe ...more
Dec 02, 2011 Simon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a great book. It's one of the rare books I'm actually going to buy, instead of just getting from the library. BBerman does a great job of staying informal without being 'too witty.' Sometimes his side comments miss the mark slightly, but mostly they're funny and help me enjoy the thrill of learning even more.

He also follows a nice narrative, explaining not only the sun, but also the history of our knowledge of the sun (Maunders and others come to mind). And then towards the end, when he tal
Jul 11, 2011 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a free digital copy through Net Galley.

This is a science book that reads more like a story, with the Sun as the main character, rather than a textbook with the Sun as the subject to be explained. Bob Berman's writing style is very welcoming to a non-science minded audience, but still interesting enough for those of us who are more familiar with the subject. His humor makes this a very fun read, which is the best way to help people learn. The Sun is much more than just the central star
The author, Bob Berman, focuses more on how the sun affects us than on the physics going on inside the sun. Topics include the solar wind (speedy particles emenating from the sun)and choronal mass ejections (similar, but on steroids, and with the capacity to fry satellite electronics and shut down power grids on earth), the sun in relation to climate change, and how nifty total eclipses are. The bad news is that in a billion years or so the sun's light will be so intense the oceans will boil awa ...more
Nov 23, 2011 Carl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A happy breezy romp through almost everything that has some sort of connection with the Sun: the Egyptian Sun God Ra, vitamin D, the fusion process inside the Sun, how best to see a total eclipse, sunspots and the climate, spectroscopy, etc.

The book gives us more things to worry about. Cosmic rays frying our astronauts when they leave the Earth’s magnetosphere, and CMEs, coronal mass ejections, which are blasts of solar particles that could wreck our electric grids, causing a trillion dollars of
The book is a mine of information on solar research presented in a readable style and requiring no detailed knowledge of astronomy on the part of the reader. In striving for accessibility at the lowest common denominator, however, the author goes overboard with his humor. Although clearly a frustrated stand-up comedian, Mr. Berman's attempts at lightening the material, while mildly annoying, do not seriously detract from his communication of really interesting and important information. Notes an ...more
Sep 05, 2011 Vegantrav rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an utterly fascinating biography of the source of all life here on our tiny little planet--from the sun's birth in the wake of a supernova to its billions-of-years hence death as a black dwarf, when our brilliant sun will have shrunk and been transformed into a ball of carbon and oxygen the size of the earth.

I highly recommend this book for science geeks (especially liberal arts majors like me who just weren't good enough in math to be a physics major), amateur astronomy buffs, and anyo
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Bob Berman is one of America's top astronomy writers. For many years, he wrote the popular "Night Watchman" column for Discover magazine. He is currently a columnist for Astronomy magazine and a host on NPR's Northeast Public Radio, and he is the science editor of the Old Farmer's Almanac.
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“By the 1680s, Venice’s canals were freezing solid in winter, something no one alive had ever witnessed.” 1 likes
“How many of your friends know that there’s a “sun inside the Sun”? Or that a bizarre, newly found zone beneath the solar surface, the tachocline, is solely responsible for its violence? Or that we just experienced the oddest solar cycle in more than two hundred years—which has apparently influenced global warming in a major way?” 1 likes
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