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Big Bang: The Origin of the Universeby Simon Singh
Simon Singh continues to demonstrate his mastery of bringing complex concepts to lay readers with this brilliant book on the origins of the universe. Singh clearly presents an overview of the history of science, filled with colorful characters, and how scientific minds arrived at our current understanding of cosmology.
Synopses & Reviews
We've all heard of the Big Bang, and yet few of us truly know what it is.
Renowned for making difficult ideas much less difficult than they might first appear, Simon Singh is our perfect guide to explaining why cosmologists believe that the Big Bang is an accurate description of the origin and evolution of the universe.
This highly readable and entertaining book tells the story of the many brilliant, often eccentric scientists who fought against the establishment idea of an eternal and unchanging cosmos. From such early Greek cosmologists as Anaximander to recent satellite measurements taken deep in space, Big Bang is a narrative full of anecdotes and personal histories. With characteristic clarity, Simon Singh tells the centuries-long story of mankind's attempt to understand how the universe came to be, a story which itself begins some 14 billion years ago (give or take a billion years). Simon Singh shows us that it is within the capability of all of us (in his expert hands) to understand the Big Bang: the fundamental theory in all of science, and a high point (perhaps the high point) of human achievement.
"It was cosmologist Fred Hoyle who coined the term 'big bang' to describe the notion that the universe exploded out of nothing to kick-start space and time. Ironically, Hoyle himself espoused the steady state theory, positing that the universe is eternal and never really changes. Former BBC producer and science writer Singh (Fermat's Enigma) recounts in his inimitable down-to-earth style how the big bang theory triumphed. Readers will find here one of the best explanations available of how Cepheid stars are used to estimate the distance of other galaxies. Singh highlights some of the lesser-known figures in the development of the big bang theory, like Henrietta Leavitt, a volunteer 'computer' at the Harvard College Observatory who in 1912 discovered how Cepheid stars can be used to measure galactic distances. Singh shows how the creation of the heavier elements was a major stumbling block to widespread adoption of the big bang until Hoyle (once again boosting the theory that he so fervently opposed) proved that they were created in stars' nuclear furnaces and strewn throughout the universe via supernova explosions. Readers who don't need a review of the early development of cosmology may wish that Singh had adopted a somewhat less leisurely pace. But his introductory chapters hold a lot of worthwhile material, clearly presented for the science buff and lay reader. There's no better account of the big bang theory than this. B&w photos and illus. Agent, Patrick Walsh at Carville and Walsh, London. (Jan. 7)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This book is a blast...who knew that the Big Bang could be so much fun?" James Gleick, bestselling author of Chaos and Faster
"An expert but friendly guide to help you decode the mysteries [of the universe] with crisp, clear running commentary." Sylvia Nasar, author of A Beautiful Mind
"As in his previous books, Mr Singh explains even the most complicated ideas with subtlety, grace and wit...Exemplary." The Economist
"Singh's unerring eye for picturesque anecdotes and his capacity for simplifying complex scientific ideas is a winning formula." Saturday Daily Telegraph (London)
Book News Annotation:
Singh (author of Fermat's Enigma) recounts the historical development of the theory and explains concepts and their significance in an extraordinarily friendly manner for general readers. His clear and engaging writing offers non-scientists an opportunity to experience some of the excitement of this intellectual achievement.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Simon Singh received his Ph.D. in particle physics from the University of Cambridge. A former BBC producer, he directed the BAFTA Award-winning documentary film Fermat's Last Theorem and wrote Fermat's Enigma, the best-selling book on the same subject. His best seller The Code Book was the basis for the BBC series The Science of Secrecy.
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