Priyamvada Natarajan receives the Gustav Ranis International Book Prize

May 15, 2018

Priyamvada Natarajan, professor of astronomy and physics, received the Gustav Ranis International Book Prize for best book for “Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas that Reveal the Cosmos” (Yale University Press).

“Mapping the Heavens”

Mapping the Heavens” provides a tour of the “greatest hits” of cosmological discoveries — the ideas that reshaped our universe over the past century. The cosmos, once understood as a stagnant place, filled with the ordinary, is now a universe that is expanding at an accelerating pace, propelled by dark energy and structured by dark matter. Priyamvada Natarajan, our guide to these ideas, is someone at the forefront of the research — an astrophysicist who literally creates maps of invisible matter in the universe. She not only explains for a wide audience the science behind these essential ideas but also provides an understanding of how radical scientific theories gain acceptance.

The formation and growth of black holes, dark matter halos, the accelerating expansion of the universe, the echo of the big bang, the discovery of exoplanets, and the possibility of other universes — these are some of the puzzling cosmological topics of the early 21st century. Natarajan discusses why the acceptance of new ideas about the universe and our place in it has never been linear and always contested even within the scientific community. And she affirms that, shifting and incomplete as science always must be, it offers the best path we have toward making sense of our wondrous, mysterious universe.

To read about the other Yale faculty members who have been awarded book prizes by the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale, visit the original article by Marilyn Wilkes: marilyn.wilkes@yale.edu, below: