The Glass Universe - Summary and Key Ideas

The book The Glass Universe (2016) is about the remarkable women who worked at the Harvard College Observatory in the late 1800s and early 1900s, using their keen intellect and perseverance to revolutionize our understanding of the universe. Through their meticulous work with glass plates of stars, they made groundbreaking discoveries about the nature of galaxies, stars, and the cosmos itself.

This book is a perfect read for individuals that are interested in astronomy, history, and women's empowerment. They enjoy learning about the contributions of women scientists and their impact on the field of astronomy.

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The Glass Universe

Key ideas


Women's contribution to astronomy.


Williamina Fleming's discovery of white dwarf stars.

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Henrietta Swan Leavitt's discovery of the period-luminosity relationship.

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Annie Jump Cannon's development of the stellar classification system.

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Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin's discovery of the composition of stars.

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The Harvard Computers' contribution to astronomy during World War I.

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The decline of women's role in astronomy after World War II.

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Summary & Review

In "The Glass Universe," Dava Sobel takes us on a fascinating journey through the lives of the women who worked at the Harvard College Observatory in the late 1800s and early 1900s. These women, known as "computers," were instrumental in making groundbreaking discoveries about the cosmos, despite facing discrimination and being relegated to the background of scientific research.

Dava Sobel

Dava Sobel is an American writer and science enthusiast. She earned a degree in science from the State University of New York and worked as a science journalist for the New York Times. Sobel is known for her ability to make complex scientific topics accessible and engaging for the general public. She has received numerous awards for her work in science communication and has been a guest speaker at various universities and institutions.

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