At the MIT Press, we know nerdy
Our authors, loyal readers, and staff are all unapologetically enthusiastic about their niche interests. If that makes us nerds, we’ll wear the honorific proudly.
We’ve put together book recommendations for every type of nerd, from the peer-reviewers and scholars to the armchair intellectuals and budding aficionados. Explore books for the astronomy enthusiasts in your life below. Happy holidays and happy reading.
Women physicists and astronomers from around the world have transformed science and society, but the critical roles they played in their fields are not always well-sung. Her Space, Her Time, authored by award-winning quantum physicist Shohini Ghose, brings together the stories of these remarkable women to celebrate their indelible scientific contributions. Engaging, accessible, and timely, Her Space, Her Time is a collective story of scientific innovation, inspirational leadership, and overcoming invisibility that will leave a lasting impression on any reader curious about the rule-breakers and trendsetters who illuminated our understanding of the universe.
“This book is a vital, intimate chronicle of the indomitable women science pioneers who fought to better understand the universe. Shohini Ghose, an accomplished physicist herself, not only brings these women’s stories into the light, she brings them to life.” —Chris Hadfield, astronaut and bestselling author
Inside the Star Factory: The Creation of the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s Largest and Most Powerful Space Observatory by Chris Gunn and Christopher Wanjek
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, the world’s largest orbiting astronomy observatory, is now nearly a million miles from Earth, probing the first stars and galaxies, documenting the structure and evolution of the universe, and searching for signs of life in other solar systems. In a series of extraordinary photographs, Inside the Star Factory tells the story of the Webb Telescope from conception to launch—a marvel of ingenuity and engineering that entailed more than 100 million people hours over a span of thirty years.
“Gunn and Wanjek’s account of the brilliant people who built Webb is as awe-inspiring as the mission itself.” —Christian Ready, Towson University; Host of “Launch Pad Astronomy” on YouTube
We’ve pinpointed the destination, refined the technology, designed the habitat, outfitted our space residents. Are we forgetting something? A timely reminder that it’s not just rocket science, this thought-provoking book explores the all-too-human issues raised by the prospect of settling in outer space. It’s worth remembering, Erika Nesvold suggests, that in making new worlds, we don’t necessarily leave our earthly problems behind. Accordingly, her work highlights the complex ethical challenges that accompany any other-worldly venture—questions about the environment, labor rights, and medical ethics, among others.
“Off-Earth will amaze you: On nearly every page, it will have your jaw dropping in response to mind-blowing revelations.” —Ars Technica
Planet Earth, it turns out, may not be the best of all possible worlds—and lately humanity has been carelessly depleting resources, decimating species, and degrading everything needed for life. Meanwhile, human ingenuity has opened up a vista of habitable worlds well beyond our wildest dreams of outposts on Mars. Worlds without End is an expertly guided tour of this thrilling frontier in astronomy: the search for planets with the potential to host life.
“A provocative and expansive introduction to the exciting new field of exoplanet science.” —Kirkus Reviews
The Smart Mission: NASA’s Lessons for Managing Knowledge, People, and Projects by Edward J. Hoffman, Matthew Kohut and Laurence Prusak
The project is the basic unit of work in many industries. Software applications, antiviral vaccines, launch-ready spacecraft: all were produced by a team and managed as a project. Project management emphasizes control, processes, and tools—but, according to The Smart Mission, that is not the right way to run a project. Human skills and expertise, not technical tools, are what make projects successful. Projects run on knowledge. This paradigm-shifting book—by three project management experts, all of whom have decades of experience at NASA and elsewhere—challenges the conventional wisdom on project management, focusing on the human dimension: learning, collaboration, teaming, communication, and culture.
“Whatever your type of moonshot, The Smart Mission will help land it.” —Thomas H. Davenport, Babson College and Oxford Saïd Business School; author of The AI Advantage, Competing on Analytics, and Working Knowledge