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Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe Hardcover – January 4, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 532 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (January 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007162200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007162208
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A baffling array of science books claim to reveal how the mysteries of the universe have been discovered, but Simon Singh's Big Bang actually delivers on that promise. General readers will find it to be among the very best books dealing with cosmology, because Singh follows the same plan he used in his brilliant Code Book: he puts people--not equations--first in the story. By linking the progression of the Big Bang theory with the scientists who built it up bit by bit, Singh also uncovers an important truth about how such ideas grow.
Death is an essential element in the progress of science, since it takes care of conservative scientists of a previous generation reluctant to let go of an old, fallacious theory and embrace a new and accurate one.
As harsh as this statement seems, even Einstein defended an outmoded idea about the universe when an unknown interloper published equations challenging the great man. Einstein didn't have to die for cosmology to move forward (he reluctantly apologized for being wrong), but stories like this one show how difficult it can sometimes be for new theories to take root. Fred Hoyle, who coined the term "big bang" as a way to ridicule the idea of a universe expanding from some tiny origin point, strongly believed that the cosmos was in a steady state. But Singh shows how Hoyle's research, meant to prove the contrary, added evidence to the expansion model. Big Bang is also a history of astronomical observation, describing the development of new telescopes that were crucial to the development of cosmology. Handwritten summary notes at the end of each long chapter add a charming, classroom feel to this revealing and very readable book. --Therese Littleton

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. It was cosmologist Fred Hoyle who coined the term "big bang" to describe the notion that the universe exploded out of nothing to kick-start space and time. Ironically, Hoyle himself espoused the steady state theory, positing that the universe is eternal and never really changes. Former BBC producer and science writer Singh (Fermat's Enigma) recounts in his inimitable down-to-earth style how the big bang theory triumphed. Readers will find here one of the best explanations available of how Cepheid stars are used to estimate the distance of other galaxies. Singh highlights some of the lesser-known figures in the development of the big bang theory, like Henrietta Leavitt, a volunteer "computer" at the Harvard College Observatory who in 1912 discovered how Cepheid stars can be used to measure galactic distances. Singh shows how the creation of the heavier elements was a major stumbling block to widespread adoption of the big bang until Hoyle (once again boosting the theory that he so fervently opposed) proved that they were created in stars' nuclear furnaces and strewn throughout the universe via supernova explosions. Readers who don't need a review of the early development of cosmology may wish that Singh had adopted a somewhat less leisurely pace. But his introductory chapters hold a lot of worthwhile material, clearly presented for the science buff and lay reader. There's no better account of the big bang theory than this. B&w photos and illus.
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Customer Reviews

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This book is very well written and enjoyable to read.
Colt
I read so many books to put together the same facts I just found in one book: Big Bang by Simon Singh.
Cornelia L.
This book is very well written, and explains complex ideas in easy to understand ways.
Leo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author has done a GREAT job of explaining how the Big Bang theory was developed. I enjoyed learning how the diameter of the earth, distance to the moon, etc was figured out hundreds of years ago. So many different people added to man's knowledge to develop the big bang theory. I started reading the book again as several of the key concepts started slipping away when I was thinking about it in my mind.
Highly recommended for anyone curious about the origin of our planet.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the most concise histories of astronomy I have ever read. The build up from the ancient Greeks through quantum mechanics and its interplay with the Big Bang Theory is excellent. Singh is a clear writer who presents scientific topics very well.
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More About the Author

Simon Singh is an author, science journalist and TV producer. Having completed his PhD at Cambridge he worked from 1991 to 1997 at the BBC producing Tomorrow's World and co-directing the BAFTA award-winning documentary Fermat's Last Theorem for the Horizon series. In 1997, he published Fermat's Last Theorem, which was a best-seller in Britain and translated into 22 languages.