For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of mystics who have been sitting there for centuries.
God and the Astronomers
In this brief book (only 160 pages), Robert Jastrow, astrophysicist and avowed agnostic, asks us these poignant questions:
- If every effect in science has a cause, what caused the birth of the Universe?
- Have scientists brought themselves face to face with the possibility of God?
Jastrow was a leading NASA scientist:
- joined NASA when it was formed in 1958
- first chairman of NASA’s Lunar Exploration Committee, which established the scientific goals for the exploration of the moon during the Apollo lunar landings
- Chief of the Theoretical Division at NASA
- founding director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in 1961, and served until his retirement from NASA in 1981
- was concurrently a Professor of Geophysics at Columbia University
After his NASA career, Jastrow became a Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College (1979–1992), and was a Member of the NASA Alumni Association. Jastrow was also a Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the George C. Marshall Institute, and Director Emeritus of Mount Wilson Observatory and Hale Solar Laboratory.
For a remembrance, refer to the New York Times ‘Space and Cosmos’ column, February 2008: Robert Jastrow, Who Made Space Understandable, Dies at 82.
Books written by Robert Jastrow include:
- Astronomy: Fundamentals and Frontiers
- God and the Astronomers
- Origins of Life in the Universe
- Red Giants and White Dwarfs