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Horizons of Cosmology (Templeton Science and Religion Series)

5 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-1599473413
ISBN-10: 1599473410
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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Horizons of Cosmology: Exploring Worlds Seen and Unseen is the fourth title published in the Templeton Science and Religion Series, in which scientists from a wide range of fields distill their experience and knowledge into brief tours of their respective specialties. In this volume, highly esteemed astrophysicist Joseph Silk explores the vast mysteries and speculations of the field of cosmology in a way that balances an accessible style for the general reader and enough technical detail for advanced students and professionals.
 
Indeed, while the physical laws and origins of the universe can be endlessly complex, even Einstein once mused that they could be explained simply enough to be grasped by nonspecialists. To that end Silk begins by introducing the basic story of the major discoveries in cosmology over the past century—wherein we learned that we live in an expanding universe populated with galaxies and stars. The middle chapters examine a number of contemporary puzzles such as dark matter and dark energy. The last third of the book looks at the human side of cosmology and moves to the more philosophical frontiers of the field, such as concepts of multiverses and time travel—areas of exploration where some crossover into speculative territory becomes unavoidable.
 
In the past century alone, our understanding of the universe has expanded exponentially, and it will be fascinating to see what discoveries the next hundred years hold. Few books will provide such a thorough understanding of where we have been and what might lie ahead as Horizons of Cosmology.

From the Back Cover

“If you want to plunge into the complex and intriguing issues that engage modern cosmologists, rather than skim the surface of easy description, take this journey with Joseph Silk, who will lead you on a tour through dark matter, dark energy, black holes, galaxy formation, and the inflating and accelerating universe. Professor Silk, who knows these topics intimately from his long research career, does not hesitate to take his readers to the heart of the matter, allowing full comprehension to those who travel with him.”
—Donald Goldsmith, coauthor of the script and companion volume for the PBS television program Four Hundred Years of the Telescope
 
Horizons of Cosmology: Exploring Worlds Seen and Unseen is the fourth title published in the Templeton Science and Religion Series, in which scientists from a wide range of fields distill their experience and knowledge into brief tours of their respective specialties. In this volume, highly esteemed astrophysicist Joseph Silk explores the vast mysteries and speculations of the field of cosmology.
 
Joseph Silk is a professor at Oxford University. He has written six popular books on cosmology, including The Big Bang, A Short History of the Universe, and The Infinite Cosmos. His research specialties include dark matter, the formation of the galaxies and the big bang theory. He previously taught at the University of California at Berkeley. He has received numerous awards, including the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, and honorary degrees from the University of Rome and the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon. He is an honorary member of the French Physical Society and is a fellow of the Royal Society, the Institute of Physics, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Physical Society.
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Product Details

  • Series: Templeton Science and Religion Series
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Templeton Press (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599473410
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599473413
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,530,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Joseph Silk's "Horizons in Cosmology" isn't just a great non-mathematical introduction to cosmology and galactic astronomy: it's a fascinating portrait of how science develops by what our theories *don't* explain. It represents a brilliant snapshot of Astronomy at the beginning of the 21st century. In this respect, Horizons is quite different from Silk's textbook "The Big Bang".

This book contains the clearest explanation of galaxies I've ever seen: Silk's work in galaxy formation gives him an insider's view of what we know (quite a bit), what we don't (a whole lot more), and what we really *need* to know. At this point, the "big picture" of Cosmology is pretty well established: the Universe began in a big bang about 14 billion years ago, then slowly developed into a web of galaxies influenced by dark matter and energy. However, the details of how galaxies formed and how they develop through time is much less clear. Supercomputers are not yet much help: the physical processes at work in the growth of galaxies so complex we can't yet build realistic simulations. More critically, scientists haven't yet figured out how the many processes of feedback and environmental interactions fit together (you can't simulate what you don't understand.)

Again and again, Silk's explanations show the bleeding edge of theory: each successful model somehow raises as many questions as it answers. Though the book is non-mathematical, Silk's exposition is rigorous and detailed - this is not in any sense an easy-reading book. However, persistence brings real rewards.

For the last several years, I've been involved in the Galaxy Zoo project [...], where volunteers classify images of galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Hubble space telescope. This book is a MUST for zooites: I know of no clearer explanation of how galaxies work. Great job, Joe!
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