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Wonders to explore.
One of the notions leading to this novel came to me while reading one of the classic texts of plasma astrophysics: It appears that the radical element responsible for the continuing thread of cosmic unrest is the magnetic field. What, then, is a magnetic field...that, like a biological form, is able to reproduce itself and carry on an active life in the general outflow of starlight, and from there alter the behavior of stars and galaxies?-Eugene Parker,Cosmical Magnetic Fields While the ideas in this novel are offered in playful speculation, I have endeavored to show truthfully, against an extreme backdrop, how scientists do think, work, and confront the unknown. Astronomy locates its students in a perspective grander and perhaps more cold than does any other science. Though the effect is little noticed, it seems to me to have an appreciable impact, at a level often below perception, upon how astronomers see the universe and our place in it. Such lessons are among the most subtle we can learn.
The initial spur for this work came from my colleague and friend, Mark O. Martin. Jennifer Brehl's deft and insightful editing yet again contributed to improving my text.
I have also benefited from discussions with Joan Benford, Dominic Benford, John Casti, Jay Sanders, Vince Gerardis, Ralph Vicinanza, Elisabeth Malartre, Joe Miller, John Cramer, Roger Blandford, and Martin Rees.
The constant assistance of Marilyn Olsen was essential. The unattributed poem in the last Part is by Swinburne.
The black hole figure in Part V is by Nigel Sharp, and was generated from an exact computer calculation of the general relativistic conditions near a rotating black hole. It appeared first in "Demythologizing the Black Hole," by Richard Matzner, Tsvi Piran, and Tony Rothman, in Analog Essays on Science Analog Essays on Science, edited by Stanley Schmidt, Wiley, 1990, to whom thanks go for permission to reproduce it.
About the Author.
GREGORY BENFORD is a professor of physics at the University of California, Irvine. He is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, was Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University, and in 1995 received the Lord Prize for contributions to sciences. His research encompasses both theory and experiments in the fields of astrophysics and plasma physics. His fiction has won many awards, including the Nebula Award for his novel is a professor of physics at the University of California, Irvine. He is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, was Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University, and in 1995 received the Lord Prize for contributions to sciences. His research encompasses both theory and experiments in the fields of astrophysics and plasma physics. His fiction has won many awards, including the Nebula Award for his novel Timescape Timescape. Dr. Benford makes his home in Laguna Beach, California.
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Books by Gregory Benford
THE STARS IN SHROUD.
IF THE STARS ARE GODS.
(with Gordon Eklund) FIND THE CHANGELING.
(with Gordon Eklund) SHIVA DESCENDING.
(with William Rostler) TIMESCAPE.
HEART OF THE COMET.
(with David Brin) A DARKER GEOMETRY.
(with Mark O. Martin) IN ALIEN FLESH.
MATTER'S END FOUNDATION'S FEAR COSM.
THE GALACTIC CENTER SERIES SERIES.
IN THE OCEAN OF NIGHT.
ACROSS THE SEA OF SUNS.
GREAT SKY RIVER.
TIDES OF LIGHT.
SAILING BRIGHT ETERNITY.