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On the Shores of the Unknown: A Short History of the Universe [Hardcover]

Joseph Silk
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 14, 2005 0521836271 978-0521836272 First Edition
Astronomer Joseph Silk explores the Universe from its beginnings to its ultimate fate. He demonstrates how cosmologists study cosmic fossils and relics from the distant past to construct theories of the birth, evolution and future of the Universe. Stars, galaxies, dark matter and dark energy are described, as successive chapters detail the evolution of the Universe from a fraction of a microsecond after the Big Bang. Silk describes how physicists apply theories of subatomic particles to recreate the first moments of the Big Bang, and how astronomers chart the vast depths of space to glimpse how the most distant galaxies formed. He gives an account of the search for dark matter and the dark energy that will determine the ultimate fate of the Universe. Joseph Silk is the Savilian Professor of Astronomy and Head of the Astrophysics Department at the University of Oxford. He was previously Professor of Astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley. He holds a BA in Mathematics from Clare College, Cambridge, and a PhD in Astronomy from Harvard University. Silk is the author, or co-author, of many books, including The Left Hand of Creation (Basic Books, 1994) and A Short History of the Universe (WH Freeman, 1997). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, the American Physical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Editorial Reviews

Review

"Silk is an expert in the field and describes both the triumphs and the controversies of modern astrophysical research with clarity and eloquence. Strongly recommended." Choice

"Cosmologist Joseph Silk sums up the evidence and shows how physicists are able to leap from the infinitesimal to the vast in A Short History of the Universe." Chicago Tribune

"...a worthy preface to the momentous discoveries undoubtedly coming in the next decade." Astronomy

"Of the many books currently available on cosmology, this is the one I would choose to hook the neophyte or delight the aficionado." Boston Book Review

"A useful introduction." Choice

Book Description

In this fascinating book, astronomer Joseph Silk explores the Universe from its beginnings to its ultimate fate. He shows how cosmologists study cosmic fossils and relics from the distant part to construct theories of the birth, evolution and future of the Universe. Stars, galaxies, dark matter and dark energy are described, as successive chapters detail the evolution of the Universe from a fraction of a microsecond after the Big Bang. This highly readable account will appeal to all those with an interest in the story of the Universe.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Edition edition (February 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521836271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521836272
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,804,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Short History Leaves Universe Unknown January 5, 2006
Format:Hardcover
Oxford astronomer Joseph Silk bravely attempts to explicate modern cosmology in only 241 pages. He enlightens us with not only with the fundamental conclusions and uncertainties but also with the cleaver experiments and calculation that inform them. From cosmic microwave background and the expanding universe to dark matter and galaxy formation, Silk does not ask the reader to take his word for it; he presents the experimental data, interpretations, and conjectures pertaining to all the critical aspects of our universe's history.

After an introduction, Silk plunges into astronomical nitty-gritty, describing more than ten methodologically similar techniques for determining cosmic distances. The distances of stars and galaxies coupled with their velocities implies an expanding universe of approximately known age. This approximation precariously dated the universe as younger than some solar system rocks. However, the universe aged with increasingly accurate measurements. The alternative theory of steady state cosmology was no longer needed and was finally debunked by the discovery of cosmic microwave radiation, the Big Bang theory's unmistakable fingerprint.

This microwave radiation, independent of direction and originating from deep space, is the relic of the exceedingly hot first few hundred thousand years following the big bang. The radiation has cooled to -270? C over the past 15 billion years but remains detectable. With the big bang theory firmly supported, the challenge of explaining the first moment of universe looms large as the theories of physics collapse during the first 10-43 s of the universe.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big ideas for curious students December 9, 2009
Format:Hardcover
This is a short but dense book about cosmology and numerous topics related to our current understanding of creation and evolution of the Universe,
not for a beginner but for someone who has some prior knowledge about astronomy (maybe outdated). What makes this book special is the amount of
puzzling facts it presents with various ideas to resolve the contradiction between theory and observations. I was pleasantly surprise to find that book covers in great detail black holes, dark matter and dark energy. For students willing to broaden their understanding and appreciation of cosmology. It is a serious book, though there is very little math in it, one needs concentration and patience to absorb the material. This book gives a good snapshot of what is known, from here one could move on to more specialized books.
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