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September 18 , 2009

Apollo's Fire

A Journey Through the Extraordinary Wonders of an Ordinary Day


It?s the oldest story on Earth. You relive it every day.
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So much of our shared daily experience in the world is shaped by the sometimes dramatic, sometimes subtle effects of the Earth?s spin, its tilt on its axis, the alternation of light and darkness, the waxing and waning of the moon, the seemingly capricious growth of clouds. The ancient rhythm of the day and night was shaping life on Earth before there were even human beings to appreciate it. It rules our bodies and weather and calendars, and sets the tempo for our work and play. Each of us awakens each day to relive this primordial narrative.

With his signature blend of science and poetry, history and mythology, Michael Sims serves as tour guide on an unforgettable journey through the wonders of an ordinary day, from dawn to nighttime. Long before we had the tools of knowledge to explain what we observed in the skies overhead, we built mythologies and folklore around these occurrences, immortalized them in poetry and art, created special places for them in our collective imagination and even our language. In Apollo?s Fire, Sims explores the celestial events that form our days, fusing lively explanations of these phenomena with a richly layered history of what they meant to us before we knew how they worked. He explains the colors of sunrise, the characteristics of shadow, the mysteries of twilight. Characters in this vital drama include Galileo watching sunrise on the moon, Eratosthenes measuring the Earth with a noontime shadow, and Edgar Allan Poe figuring out why the night sky is dark instead of glowing with the light of a million suns. Our story ranges from the movie High Noon to Darwin?s plant experiments, from The Time Machine to the afternoon rise in air pollution.In the witty and elegant style that has earned him the designation ?science raconteur,? Sims weaves a dazzling array of strands into a single tapestry of daily experience- and makes the oldest story on Earth new again.
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