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By John Jeffrey Hester; et al

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We will not present something as fact unless there is a compelling reason to believe it. We will be honest when we are on uncertain, speculative ground, and we will admit it when the truth is that we really do not know. This book is not a compendium of revealed truth or a font of accepted wisdom. Rather, it is an introduction to a body of knowledge and understanding that was painstakingly built (and sometimes torn down and rebuilt) brick by brick. It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of science in our civilization.

She received a BS degree in physics and an AB degree in feminist studies from Stanford University, and MS and PhD degrees in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of California–Santa Cruz. As a graduate student she spent 13 months at the Amundsen Scott station at the South Pole in Antarctica. She studies active galactic nuclei, using groundbased and X-ray telescopes. She teaches courses on astronomy, astrobiology, women and science, and polar exploration. At Barnard she has served as chair of the Physics & Astronomy Department, chair of the Women’s Studies Department, chair of Faculty Governance, and interim associate dean for Curriculum and Governance.

As we continue on our journey, we will encounter many other discoveries and successful ideas that forced scientists either to abandon their treasured notions or be left behind, hopelessly locked into a worldview that had ultimately failed the test of observation and experiment. The point is this: in physical science, we are not just paying lip service to a hollow ideal when we say that the rigorous standards of scientific knowledge respect no authorities. No theory, no matter how central or how strongly held, is immune from the rules.

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