Astronomy Bookalike

It has been pointed out to me that I haven’t contributed anything to my collection of Astronomy Lookalikes recently. My only excuse is that I haven’t really thought of any. I’ll try to get it going again. Suggestions are always welcome.

In the meantime take a look at this book look-alike:

If you click on the picture you can make it bigger.

These two pages are taken from two different books on Astrophysics written about a decade apart by two different authors. This is by no means the only point of similarity between these particular volumes. I wonder if by any chance they might be related?

I couldn’t possibly comment.

21 Responses to “Astronomy Bookalike”

  1. Dark Energy Says:

    I have noticed many such similarities. I was told that books
    are not meant to be an original research papers or even
    review articles. Also, I do not know how to write and why
    to write Euler/Poisson/Continuity Equations in many different
    form, if the context is same. The reason that many books
    look very similar is because there are too many books in
    the market. Wonder how much royalty authors get. Many
    of these books don’t ever make it to second edition and don’t
    get sold even at reduced price. One actually don’t need
    to learn astrophysics if she goes through Landau-Lifshitz
    carefully (though I agree it is bit out-of-date). The rest is simply
    well-known spherical-bull approximation. For real research projects
    most calculations are numerical in nature and requires
    knowledge of numerical analysis and statistical methods.
    There are not many astrophysics books that teaches
    these aspects and most students learn these by
    reading research articles while doing their own calculations.

    • telescoper Says:

      Authors of textbooks usually earn very little (a few hundred pounds a year at most) unless the book gets adopted by big courses (e.g. introductory mechanics at US colleges).

      • Dark Energy Says:

        I was told that citations of research articles of an author gets
        tremendous boost if someone authors a text book. I don’t
        know probably correct but then it may not be a very efficient
        way to boost. Probably students at least the undergrads
        get impressed and that improves the feedback – again, not
        sure.

        My favourite book is Scott Dodelson’s cosmology book.
        If some one publishes a python version of that book
        which will contain the solutions to all the exercises
        in .py/C++ with animations etc. embedded in .html
        it would be very helpful to students trying to learn
        cosmology.

      • Writing a book increases one’s fame, and hence one’s other papers will be more often cited. But that’s not the reason to write a book; it’s just a side effect.

        This is a common theme, as the quote of the day demonstrates:

        You are in big trouble when you start writing software to impress girls.

        —Bruce Ellis, THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO VMS

        (Yes, it’s a real book, and I own a copy.)

    • Unless really famous, authors get about 10 per cent of the wholesale cover price, so say 3 pounds per book. Typical textbooks probably sell a few thousand copies.

  2. Maybe they both had the same professor.

  3. This is both good and bad. Good, because if there is a best way to present something, then it is best if everyone presents it this way, rather than trying to be different just for the sake of being different. On the other hand, seeing things presented differently can sometimes add enlightenment. Also, common formula are not always the best form for numerical implementation (the Mattig formula is a good example).

    • Dark Energy Says:

      I guess you are saying if I were a fish I’ll discover Bernoulli’s equation first and then derive Newton’s laws from it.

      • Dark Energy Says:

        Experts who study theories of education believe that
        Newton’s theory should be taught before GR i.e. ideas in physics
        should be taught in a natural historical progression.
        Something related to us retracing our evolutionary
        track in our embryonic development. So experimenting
        with the way things are explained in most books
        which follows a natural historical development
        may has some logical reasoning. However, books are outdated.
        I buy books because I get a nostalgic feeling from their
        smell.

  4. Dark Energy Says:

    If it is not really about money, instead of writing books,
    authors should publish mathematica/python notebooks
    which can be downloaded and the explanations should
    be on their youtube channel.

  5. Most probably, both followed Frank Shu’s ApJ article rather closely.

  6. While textbooks shouldn’t have references like papers, it is nice if they include lists of sources and suggestions for further reading (not necessarily the same; Harrison distinguishes the two in his cosmology textbook).

    • If you’re actually following someone else’s treatment of the subject, I don’t see why you shouldn’t have a footnote to let the reader know where to look for the original, and I think it’s not unknown to do that. You don’t want the same density of references as a paper has, of course.

      • In this case, the book on the right has a separate references section at the back, which includes “(10.3.4) A discussion of time-dependent isothermal spheres can be found in Ref. 1.”, where Ref. 1 is the book on the left.

  7. Dark Energy Says:

    If Universities are really serious about opening access to
    everyone they should record all lectures and make them freely
    available like MIT courseware.

  8. Anton Garrett Says:

    Don’t be coy, folks, which books are these?

  9. Anton Garrett Says:

    I couldn’t resist deriving the nonlinear differential equation for v(x), equating to zero a sum of terms in v”, v’^2, v’ and v^0 with coefficients being 3rd order polynomials in v and x.

    • telescoper Says:

      Ha! I have the numerical solution of the system down as a potential exercise for next year’s Computational Physics class..

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