Govert Schilling

Flash! The hunt for cosmic super-explosions

The universe and its incredible processes

In this compelling new book, science writer and astronomer Govert Schilling tells the story of the chance discovery of powerful gamma-ray flashes from outer space. These signals were picked up by satellites launched in the 1960s to detect illegal nuclear tests in space, and led to decades of controversy in astronomical circles.

Flash! not only tells how the truth was reached slowly but secure along a narrow trail, but also describes the development of the various instruments and observatories on earth and in space used to locate minuscule sources of light, radio and gamma-ray waves in the sky.

As if present in person, Schilling portrays the last moments of a dying star many billions of light years away from the earth. What was a local energy explosion comparable to the Big Bang reached our solar system after a journey lasting billions of years and is no more than an unsightly bleep on a screen or a vanishing pinpoint in the sky.

Most revealing of all is the glimpse of the astronomical research ‘kitchen’ Schilling gives his readers, of a kitchen in which the cooks seem to be elbowing, even banishing one another from the stove. A kitchen, moreover, in which the cooks sometimes produce misbegotten dishes that can be whisked off the table just in time.

Flash! is a book for everyone fascinated by the universe and its processes, in which distance and energy assume incredible proportions – which Schilling describes most entertainingly; for anyone intrigued by the detective work of astronomers – many of whom are quoted in Flash!; and for anyone interested in the techniques and instruments that help keep the universe under observation, of which a large number are set out in this vividly written book.

On Tweeling aarde:
A vivid and personal account of the hunt for planets outside the solar system. Schilling tells us all about it with a fine sense for human drama.

de Volkskrant

Govert Schilling knows his subject. Like no other, he has mastered the art of presenting the riddles of the sky in everyday language.

Standaard der Letteren


Govert Schilling

Govert Schilling writes about astronomy and space exploration for newspapers and magazines including de Volkskrant, Science and New Scientist. His previous books include Werelden naast de aarde (Worlds Near the Earth, 1990), De salon van God (God’s Salon, 1993) and Tweeling aarde (Twin Earth…

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Flash! de jacht op kosmische superexplosies (2000). Non-fiction, 272 pages.
Copies sold: 4,000

With references and illustrations



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Tel: +31 20 638 18 99
Fax: +31 20 638 44 91

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