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Edge of the Universe: A Voyage to the Cosmic Horizon and Beyond Hardcover – October 1, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0470636244 ISBN-10: 0470636246 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470636246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470636244
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #503,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Outstanding title!  Edge of the Universe is a unique addition to the plethora of cosmology books written for the well-versed layperson.  Highly recommended."

"Halpern writes for the educated layperson, and excels at using analogies to describe abstract astronomical concepts in terms easier to understand ... This book offers a useful, highly readable overview of the topic."
--The Space Review

"Halpern breaks down complex concepts such as the big bang, dark energy, dark flow, dark matter and why the edge of the universe is speeding farther and farther away from us."
--The Washington Post

"A fantastic romp along the frontiers of modern cosmology--and beyond."
--Dr. Cliff Pickover, author of The Physics Book

"A delightful introduction to all the major topics in modern cosmology. In user-friendly language, Halpern manages to describe the ins and outs of this complex subject, from the well-established to the highly speculative. Truly a remarkable accomplishment."
--Gino Segre, author of Faust in Copenhagen: A Struggle for the Soul of Physics

"Cosmology today is more exciting than it has ever been in its 2500-year history.  In this lively book, Halpern explains why and leaves us desperate to see what surprises the universe has in store."
--Graham Farmelo, author of The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom

"Edge of the Universe is a breezy romp through the universe as we know it.  Paul Halpern covers all the big topics in cosmology with a crisp and engaging tone, at a level that even a novice can follow, and pairs it with pop cultural references and very engaging scientific history."
--Dave Goldberg, author of A User's Guide to the Universe

From the Author

What mysteries lurk beyond the edge of the observable universe?  Could the observable universe represent a mere drop in an endless cosmic sea?  If so, could there be signs of outside influences in the relic radiation leftover from the Big Bang?  Modern astronomy's astonishing achievements have placed it in an ideal position to tackle such profound riddles.

These are extraordinary times for humanity's quest to understand the universe.  Cosmology has entered an age of unprecedented precision.  Long sought questions such as the age and shape of the universe have finally been resolved.  We now know that the time since the Big Bang is 13.8 billion years.  In contrast to earlier views that space could be curved or saddle-shaped, we now know that it is as flat as a pancake. 

Yet, despite these tremendous advances, science has come to realize that much of the universe is made of unknown substances and influences.  Approximately 95 percent of the universe is made of dark energy and dark matter, with about 5 percent constituting the familiar stuff of atoms, molecules, people, and planets.  Dark energy makes itself felt through its unseen influence on galaxies, causing them to move away from each other at a faster and faster pace.  Dark matter, on the other hand, steers the outer stars of galaxies, binding them to galactic cores.  It also supplies the gravitational "glue" needed to keep clusters of galaxies intact.  Experiments have failed so far to reveal the true nature of these mysterious entities.

These are far from the only cosmological enigmas.  A strange dark flow seems to be driving galaxy clusters toward an unknown destination.   Scientists wonder if it could be a sign of tugs from regions beyond the observable universe.  Indeed the theory of inflation, the leading explanation for why the observable is relatively uniform, offers the intriguing possibility that our universe is a mere bubble in an immeasurably vast multiverse.  Researchers are examining the cosmic microwave background searching for signs of collisions with other universes.

The cosmic microwave background offers ample conundrums.  A strange alignment, called the "axis of evil," has perplexed astronomers.  While other oddities, such as Stephen Hawking's initials displayed in the radio sky, can be explained by coincidence, could the "axis of evil" represent a preferred direction in the cosmos?  Cosmic dragons, unidentified sources lurking in the gamma-ray fog, offer another intriguing puzzle. 

Is time travel possible?  Does the universe have unseen extra dimensions?  Could an advanced civilization construct traversable wormholes to expedite interstellar travel?  What is the fate of the universe?  Could there have been cycles of time before the Big Bang?

Edge of the Universe:  A Voyage to the Cosmic Horizon and Beyond
explores these mysteries and more.  It offers a passport to the frontiers of contemporary cosmology, examining the latest discoveries and debates in the scientific quest to unravel the mysteries of the universe.

Customer Reviews

This is a very well written and complete book.
I would recommend this book to anyone with the interest.
Tim Cashman
Thank you so much, Mr. Halpern, for this book.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By String on September 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I have profound gratitude for scientists, such as Paul Halpern, who convey complex interactions, theories and discoveries in a comprehensible and entertaining manner, especially for a lay person. Although `Edge of the Universe' is rich writing, teeming with technical information and discussion, Paul also utilises humorous metaphor, clever analogy and modern examples to impart the history, mechanics and progress of the science of cosmology and its dynamic relationship with the various branches of quantum physics. I learned about the frontiers of cosmological theory, but also of theorists and the machines (telescopes, satellites, observatories, spectrometers, and colliders) engaged in exploring this largely mysterious, exciting realm. Paul's passion for the subject is contagious and I read the book quickly due to his excellent ability to engage the reader in scientific adventure and discovery. The book is full of insights into the foremost theories on the structure of the universe and helpful to anyone desiring a thorough synopsis of the science of cosmology.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 10, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Dear book-fans: Edge of the Universe is a book for reading in the bus station or in the bedroom. There is no privileged site because wherever you choose reading these breaking news about the cosmos (paraphrasing a book by Hubert Reeves) the result will be astonishing. Paul Halpern tells us two important things --among others-- 1) the universe has secrets, 2) we can reveal them by exploring the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation.

Mr. Halpern tells us that the history of the universe is written in the edge. We can access that ultimate frontier by reading the light that reaches us from there. As the author says: "Some of that light has reached us today in the form of cosmic microwave background radiation ―a radio hiss that permeates space." And for deciphering that light code the scientific community now has the best technology available. That's why "It is the best of times," he says, "and the weirdest of times for cosmology."

Yes, these are the latest news about the universe. In fact some quotations have been taken so recently as April 2012. So if this is really happening today around us then that's another reason, I guess, for calling this book an Edge.

I have left for the end what is to me a very important thing about any book: the search for a beautiful expression. Paul Halpern not only has looked for telling us what scientists know this very same week about the universe but also in a beautiful style. His examples for explaining us what is dark matter, dark energy or black holes are better than good: are metaphorical achievements.

"Prepare yourself for an epic voyage to the cosmic horizon and beyond" he writes. And you are never going to feel disappointed. The last chapters, mainly number fifteen, are like those in a detectives novel.
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Format: Hardcover
"The stream of human knowledge is impartially heading towards a non-mechanical reality. The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter. We are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of this realm."--Sir James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe, 1930

In "L'atmosphere Meteorologie Populaire," Camille Flammarion has shown the astronomer as reaching for the truth," depicting him as breaking through the 'shell of appearances' to arrive at an understanding of the fundamental mechanism that lies behind Cosmic appearances. This could have been an impressive cover for Halpern's Voyage to the Cosmic Horizon and Beyond. In Edge of the Universe, Paul Halpern tours the most remote stretch of Cosmological frontier to explore its mysteries, which we are still trying to comprehend. He pushes even further, to reach over the edge of Sir James Jeans's fast expanding universe.

Cosmology is more exciting today than it has ever been since the geocentric cosmology, in the mathematical model of the universe, formulated by the Alexandrian astronomer and mathematician Ptolemy, in his Almagest and Planetary Hypotheses. The resulting Ptolemaic system, Ca. AD 150, persisted with minor adjustments, until the Earth was displaced from the center of the universe in the 16th century by the Copernican system and Kepler's laws of planetary motion. In this lively book, Halpern explains why and leaves us venturesome to explore what astonishments the universe could hide from us.

Halpern adopts an engaging strategy for his book, his cosmic voyage reaches the limits of our cosmic observation slot.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By L. J. Tenzin-dolma on November 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Paul Halpern has a real gift for explaining the complexities of science in such a way that even seemingly incomprehensible theories are made clear. In `Edge of the Universe' he takes us on a fast-paced, heady cosmic adventure, teeming with twists, turns, solved and as yet unsolved mysteries. This reads like an edge-of-your-seat detective story, where the adventure spans the birth of our universe (and other universes), through the intriguing descriptions of its inhabitants throughout its evolution, to the possibilities that loom with its eventual demise.

Sparkling flashes of wit, humor and very clever analogies add extra zing to this fascinating book. Halpern had me laughing out loud at times, even as my mind was boggling over the sheer scale of the subject matter. Whether your particular interest is inflation, string theory, dark matter, dark flow, multiverses, the primal quantum sea, branes or black holes (take your pick - there's far more to choose from!), this eloquently written `epic voyage to the cosmic horizon and beyond' is an utterly gripping must-read.
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More About the Author

Acclaimed science writer and physicist Dr. Paul Halpern is the author of fourteen popular science books, exploring the subjects of space, time, higher dimensions, dark energy, dark matter, exoplanets, particle physics, and cosmology. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Scholarship, and an Athenaeum Literary Award. A regular contributor to NOVA's "The Nature of Reality" physics blog, he has appeared on numerous radio and television shows including "Future Quest" and "The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special".

Halpern's latest book, "Einstein's Dice and Schrodinger's Cat," investigates how physicists Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrodinger battled together against the incompleteness and indeterminacy of quantum mechanics. Their dialogue inspired Schrodinger's famous thought-experiment about a cat in a box that is in a mixed state between life and death until it is observed. They struggled to find a unified field theory that would unite the forces of nature and supersede quantum weirdness. Sadly they would never find success and their efforts would lead to a fiasco.

More information about Paul Halpern's books and other writings can be found at:

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Edge of the Universe: A Voyage to the Cosmic Horizon and Beyond
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