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
"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)
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.
A half century ago, a shocking Washington Post headline claimed that the world began in five cataclysmic minutes rather than having existed for all time; a skeptical scientist dubbed the maverick theory the Big Bang. In this amazingly comprehensible history of the universe, Simon Singh decodes the mystery behind the Big Bang theory, lading us through the development of one of the most extraordinary, important, and awe-inspiring theories in science.
Over the past few decades, a handful of scientists have been racing to explain a disturbing aspect of our universe: only 4 percent of it consists of the matter that makes up you, and me, and every star and planet. The rest is completely unknown. Richard Panek tells the dramatic story of the quest to find this “dark” matter and an even more bizarre substance called dark energy. This is perhaps the greatest mystery in all of science, and solving it will bring fame, funding, and certainly a Nobel Prize. Based on in-depth reporting and interviews with the major playersfrom Berkeleys feisty Saul Perlmutter to Harvards witty but exacting Robert Kirshner 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.
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
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.
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