Synopses & Reviews
How old is the universe? What do the atoms in our bodies, our very existence, tell us about the history of the universe? How do galaxies form? Michael Rowan-Robinson answers these questions and encapsulates all that modern astronomy has discovered about the universe around nine numbers, only one of which is known with real precision, and four not at all. The reader emerges with a genuine feel for what we do really know about the universe--and also what we do not.
The complicated ideas that constitute modern cosmology--the origin of the elements, the General Theory of Relativity, quantum theory, and the standard model of particle physics--are made accessible. Rowan-Robinson predicts that with the advent of the MAP and PLANCK-Surveyor space missions, the Large Hadron Collider, and other planned experiments, all nine numbers will be accurately known by 2015. However, he stresses that many questions and mysteries will remain, and that the origin of the Big Bang could remain a mystery until the year 3000.
How old is the universe? What do the atoms in our bodies, our very existence, tell us about the history of the universe? How heavy is the vacuum? How do galaxies form? Michael Rowan-Robinson discusses these questions and more in this lively introduction to what modern astronomy has discovered about the universe. Basing his discussion on nine of the fundamental constants in the universe, many only estimates at present, he surveys the entire field, using as a guide Montaigne's question "What do I know?" The reader emerges with a genuine feel for what we do really know about the universe and also what we do not.
How old is the universe? How far away are the galaxies and how fast are they travelling away from us? What is "dark matter" and why do astronomers think it pervades the universe? In this text, the author answers all these questions and many more, encapsulating all knowledge into nine numbers.
About the Author
is Professor of Astrophysics and Head of the Astrophysics Group at Imperial College, London. He is an internationally recognized expert on observational cosmology and his book, The Cosmological Distance Scale
, is regarded as a classic.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Que sais-je?
1. We exist
2. We are not in a special place
3. An expanding universe
4. A universe of finite age
5. The Hot Big Bang
6. Cold dark matter
7. The missing ingredient--tilt, strings, or hot dark matter
8. How heavy is the vacuum?
9. How do galaxies form?
10. The nine numbers of the cosmos