Synopses & Reviews
Astronomy was once a quest for light. For millions of years, humans stared wide-eyed at the night sky trying to piece together the nature of the Universe we live in. But because of the limitations of the naked eye, the vast majority of our ancestors never suspected, and none knew, that the stars were other suns, nor the planets other worlds. Such revelations had to wait until the invention of the telescope, an instrument that simultaneously created and fulfilled the possibility of seeing fainter, more distant objects in the universe. While the earliest telescopes were capable of little more than todays toy telescopes, they nonetheless revealed for the first time the moons of Jupiter, craters on our own Moon, and the myriad of fainter stars in the Milky Way. As telescopic power grew it was assumed that telescopes, being light-gatherers, would reveal ever more of the Universe that surrounds us. Eventually they would reveal everything. Indeed, modern telescopes have provided us with images of objects so distant they are not only close to the edge of the Universe, but almost at the edge of physical detectability. The interpretation of what telescopes reveal aside, without their light-gathering capability our understanding of the Universe might never have progressed beyond the Milky Way.
The dark matter problem is one of the most fundamental and profoundly difficult problems in the history of science. Not knowing what makes up most of the mass in the Universe goes to the heart of our understanding of the Universe and our place in it. In Search of Dark Matter is the story of the emergence of the dark matter problem, from the initial 'discovery' of dark matter by Jan Oort to contemporary explanations for the nature of dark matter and its role in the origin and evolution of the Universe. Written for the intelligent non-scientist and scientist alike, it spans a variety of scientific disciplines, from observational astronomy to particle physics. Concepts that the reader will encounter along the way are at the cutting edge of scientific research. However the themes are explained in such a way that no prior understanding of science beyond a high school education is necessary.
Written for the educated non-scientist and scientist alike, it spans a variety of scientific disciplines, from observational astronomy to particle physics. Concepts that the reader will encounter along the way are at the cutting edge of scientific research. However the themes are explained in such a way that no prior understanding of science beyond a high school education is necessary.
About the Author
Ken Freeman is Duffield Professor of Astronomy at the Australian National University (Research School of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Mount Stromlo Observatory) in Canberra. He studied mathematics at the University of Western Australia and theoretical astrophysics at the University of Cambridge, followed by a postdoctoral year at McDonald Observatory (University of Texas) with G. de Vaucouleurs and a year as a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He returned to Australia in 1967 and has been there ever since. His research interests are in the formation and dynamics of galaxies and globular clusters, and particularly in the problem of dark matter in galaxies: he was one of the first to point out (1970) that spiral galaxies contain a large fraction of dark matter. Since then, he has written many papers on dark matter in spiral and elliptical galaxies. He was a founding member of the MACHO collaboration which used microlensing techniques to search for galactic dark matter in the form of compact stellar-mass objects. For his current research, he uses the optical and radio telescopes in Australia, and also observes with the Hubble Space Telescope and large optical telescopes in Spain, Chile, and Hawaii. He has written about 500 research articles. Geoff McNamara has been writing about and teaching science and technology since the mid-1980s. He has had approximately 150 articles published in magazines ranging from Electronics Australia, Astronomy, Sky & Space, and Nature Australia. In 1997 he coauthored a popular level science book "Ripples on a Cosmic Sea - the search for gravitational waves" with Associate Professor David Blair (Allen & Unwin, 1997), and contributed a chapter to "The Universe Revealed" (Mitchell Beazley, 1998). He taught Ophthalmic Optics at Sydney Institute of Technology from 1987 to 1999, and has presented many courses and talks on astronomy for the public. He has been teaching science at Campbell High School in Canberra since 2000. In 2003 he began teaching Astronomy and the course has continued to grow in popularity. In 2005 the Astronomy courses were completed by approximately 130 students.
Table of Contents
The quest for darkness.- How to weigh the Universe.- The False Dawn.- Seeing the invisible.- Dark halos.- We're surrounded!.- Pieces of the Big Bang.- Cosmic Mirages.- The Baryon Inventory.- MACHO astronomy.- What can the matter be?.- Exploring exotica 1 - neutrinos.- Exploring exotica 2 - WIMPs and Axions.- In the beginning.- Towards Omega.