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Afterglow of Creation: From the Fireball to the Discovery of Cosmic Ripples Hardcover – May 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 222 pages
  • Publisher: University Science Books; New edition edition (May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0935702407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0935702408
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,479,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Throughout the 20th century, cosmological theory has been significantly revised every five to ten years. Chown's book, first published in England, is excellent for lay readers trying to keep up with these changes. It begins in 1924 with Hubble's discovery of galaxies and continues through the 1992 discovery of extremely distant remnants of the Big Bang?so-called "wrinkles in time." Well received overseas, this book was nominated the prestigious Rhone Poulenc prize for science writing. Very readable, even somewhat breezy, Chown's work compares most closely with Barry Parker's Vindication of the Big Bang (Plenum, 1994). Either could serve as a novice introduction to this complex subject.?Gregg Sapp, Univ. of Miami Lib., Coral Gables, Fl.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

This account of the scientific work that has created our modern picture of the origins of the universe was a best-seller in Britain; it deserves to be equally popular here. Chown, the cosmology consultant for New Scientist, begins by showing how scientists concluded that at some time in the distant past the universe, then very tiny, exploded. George Gamow was among the first to explore the consequences of the ``Big Bang,'' especially the fact that the early universe would have had an extremely high temperature. Two of Gamow's research students pointed out (in 1948) that the original explosion would in theory be detectable today as a residual layer of energy throughout the universe. More than 15 years passed before anyone attempted the measurement. Ironically, two teams worked on it within a few miles of each other--one at Princeton, the other at Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, N.J. The Bell team, composed of Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias, made the key discovery in 1965 and won the Nobel Prize for it. But a subtler measurement remained to be made. Theory implied that the Big Bang radiation would show irregularities--``ripples,'' as they were dubbed--to account for the present structure of the universe, which is far from uniform. In one of the largest scientific team efforts ever assembled, the COBE (COsmic Background Explorer) satellite was created to attempt the measurements, which Chown describes as the most difficult ever made. After rigorous testing, several redesigns, and unprecedented difficulties, COBE was launched. The results were stunning--including a measurement of the cosmic background radiation that matched the theoretical predictions within 0.25 percent. Chown concludes his account with a description of the resulting publicity and wrangling among team members who felt that one team leader, George Smoot (who had described a ``map'' of the ripples as ``like seeing the face of God''), was hogging the spotlight. A lucid account of the key developments in modern cosmology, especially good at capturing the human dimension of scientific work. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By David Ratna on July 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book for laypeople about the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite, and its discovery of ripples in the radiation from the Big Bang.
Electrons jiggling around generate radio waves. Temperature is just a measure of the average speed with which the atoms of a body are moving, vibrating and spinning. So any body, at any temperature above absolute zero, emits radio waves. Cool!
Why tell you this? Well, when they say the Background radiation is at a temperature of 3 degrees what they mean is, it's of the type of radiowaves that are emitted by a body at a temperature of 3 degrees.
-- and that's something I didn't know, before I read the book.
It's the least of what you'll get:
1. You get a history of the theory.
2. Details about radioastronomy, and how astronomers work around their problems (since everything -- the ground, the air, the dust in the galaxy, the cables on a balloon carrying a detector -- glows with radio waves, it's a bit tricky seeing the backround radiation of the Big Bang)
3. Peeks into how science works: you propose a theory, and then chuck it if it doesn't fit the data, except that sometimes it's the data that's at fault not the theory
4. The importance of confirming your results, so that scientific discovery's a community effort despite all the pushing to get there first
5. The importance of looking at all the ramifications of a theory: gas clouds in interstellar space are warmed by the background radiation, and people measured their temperature, and wondered why they weren't stone cold, long before the radiation itself was observed
6. Why that famous photo of pink and blue patches is both the truth and not
7. Interesting tidbits on cosmology
8.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "terer@qwest.net" on September 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Very little math, but very carefully written. This is the first place to start if you want to get a perspective on the whole range of experiments that led up to the Cobe data. I am particularly impressed with the quality and clarity of the writing. This book is so carefully written that you can actually understand much of the physics involved
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Format: Hardcover
The Afterglow of Creation is a very fine history of the discovery of evidence to support the Big Bang Theory, in particular the microwave background radiation. Although primarily a history of this effort and a list of the Who's Who of scientists associated with it, the book is also a wonderful demonstration of the scientific method at work. If nothing else, it shows that science is not done all at once or by one single individual; it's a collaborative effort--and one that is not always harmonious as the final pages of the book point out to the reader. Probably the most important thing the book does is show that there is never a point where one can say "this is the last word on the subject." Some theories thought to be irrelevant or downright wrong have surfaced again at a later time with important points to offer an on-going scientific process.

I think the book would be a very good resource for high school students interested in knowing more about science and who it's done. It certainly shows that while individual scientists can make mistakes the scientific process is designed to correct them. I think this book and the author's other volumes on science and its history would make a fine collection for any public or school library.
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