This book provides a tour of the "greatest hits" of cosmological discoveries--the ideas that reshaped our universe over the past century. Read more...
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This book provides a tour of the "greatest hits" of cosmological discoveries--the ideas that reshaped our universe over the past century. The cosmos, once understood as a stagnant place, filled with the ordinary, is now a universe that is expanding at an accelerating pace, propelled by dark energy and structured by dark matter. Priyamvada Natarajan, our guide to these ideas, is someone at the forefront of the research--an astrophysicist who literally creates maps of invisible matter in the universe. She not only explains for a wide audience the science behind these essential ideas but also provides an understanding of how radical scientific theories gain acceptance.
The formation and growth of black holes, dark matter halos, the accelerating expansion of the universe, the echo of the big bang, the discovery of exoplanets, and the possibility of other universes--these are some of the puzzling cosmological topics of the early twenty-first century. Natarajan discusses why the acceptance of new ideas about the universe and our place in it has never been linear and always contested even within the scientific community. And she affirms that, shifting and incomplete as science always must be, it offers the best path we have toward making sense of our wondrous, mysterious universe.
- ISBN-13: 9780300204414
- ISBN-10: 0300204418
- Publisher: Yale University Press
- Publish Date: April 2016
- Page Count: 288
- Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-03-28
- Reviewer: Staff
The human view of the universe has changed radically over the last century, and this accessible work from Natarajan, professor of astronomy and physics and Yale, highlights those changes as well as the personalities—and the battles—behind them. She begins with the momentous announcement in the early 20th century that the known universe was expanding—a concept that Albert Einstein, for one, fought and failed to disprove. Expansion suggested the idea of an ancient “big bang,” the name sarcastically bestowed by physicist Fred Hoyle, who, like Einstein, preferred a “steady-state” universe. Natarajan digs into the work, including that done by both doubters and innovators, that has helped formed the foundations of what is currently known about dark matter and dark energy, black holes (another phenomenon Einstein vehemently disliked), gravity, and the evolution of our universe. In the penultimate chapter, she examines the search for exoplanets, the multiverse, and intelligent extraterrestrial life. By introducing the major players behind each discovery, Natarajan adds a lively human touch to her discussion, reinforcing the dynamism of a field that “fans human curiosity and is driven by it as well.” Photos & illus. (May)