Synopses & Reviews
“Fascinating . . . One of the most important stories in the history of science.”— Washington Post
In recent years, a handful of scientists has been racing to explain a disturbing aspect of our universe: only 4 percent of it consists of the matter that makes up you, me, and every star and planet. The rest is completely unknown.
Richard Panek tells the dramatic story of how scientists reached this cosmos-shattering conclusion. In vivid detail, he narrates the quest to find the “dark” matter and an even more bizarre substance called dark energy that make up 96 percent of the universe. This is perhaps the greatest mystery in all of science, and solving it will bring fame, funding, and certainly a Nobel Prize. Based on hundreds of interviews and in-depth, on-site reporting, the book offers an intimate portrait of the bitter rivalries and fruitful collaborations, the eureka moments and blind alleys, that have redefined science and reinvented the universe.
“A lively new account of twentieth-century (plus a little twenty-first-century) cosmology . . . The book is as much about how the science got done as about the science itself.”—Salon
"There has always been more to the universe than we can see. Science journalist Panek (The Invisible Century) offers an insider's view of the quest for what could be the ultimate revelation: the true substance of the unseen dark matter and energy that makes up some 96% of our universe. The search for these hidden elements began in the 1960s with astronomers asking whether the universe would end in an infinitely expanding 'Big Chill' or a collapse into a 'Big Crunch' or whether the universe is a just-right 'Goldilocks' space that would nurture stars and galaxies forever. To answer this question, scientists calculated the universe's mass and discovered there was far more mass than we could see. But where is this 'missing mass' and what kind of exotic 'dark' stuff is it made of? Panek gleefully describes a 'Wild West of the mind, where resources were scarce, competition was fierce, and survival depended on small alliances of convenience, often enduring just long enough to publish a paper.' This lively story of big personalities, intellectual competitiveness, and ravenous curiosity is as entertaining as it is illuminating. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
The epic, behind-the-scenes story of an astounding gap in our scientific knowledge of the cosmos.
In the past few years, a handful of scientists have been in a race to explain a disturbing aspect of our universe: only 4 percent of it consists of the matter that makes up you, me, our books, and every planet, star, and galaxy. The rest—96 percent of the universe—is completely unknown.
Richard Panek tells the dramatic story of how scientists reached this conclusion, and what theyre doing to find this "dark" matter and an even more bizarre substance called dark energy. Based on in-depth, on-site reporting and hundreds of interviews—with everyone from Berkeleys feisty Saul Perlmutter and Johns Hopkinss meticulous Adam Riess to the quietly revolutionary Vera Rubin—the book offers an intimate portrait of the bitter rivalries and fruitful collaborations, the eureka moments and blind alleys, that have fueled their search, redefined science, and reinvented the universe.
Only four percent of the universe consists of the matter that makes up humans, the planet, and every star. The rest is completely unknown. Panek tells the dramatic story of the quest to find this dark matter and an even more bizarre substance called dark energy.
An exciting look at the next big thing in cosmology--the search for dark matter and dark energy--and the making of an entirely new physics.
About the Author
RICHARD PANEKs previous books include Seeing and Believing and The Invisible Century. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in science writing, he has often written about astronomy and cosmology for The New York Times—where The 4-Percent Universe began as an article in the Magazine—as well as Discover, Smithsonian, Esquire, Natural History, and many other publications. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.
Table of Contents
Part I. More Than Meets the Eye
1. Let There Be Light 3
2. Whats Out There 25
3. Choosing Halos 41
Part II. Lo and Behold
4. Getting in the Game 57
5. Staying in the Game 77
6. The Game 98
Part II. The Face of the Deep
7. The Flat Universe Society 119
8. Hello, Lambda 140
9. The Tooth Fairy Twice 164
Part IV. Less Than Meets the Eye
10. The Curse of the Bambino 183
11. The Thing 203
12. Must Come Down 219
Works Cited 264