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on December 17, 2004
I am quite sure, that there is no better summary of Big Bang than Joseph Silk's text. I classify it on the border, between popular and science book but a bit more as a scientific (more for studying then for reading).
If student wants to learn how astronomy and computer simulations has been used to develop this most important and crucial cosmological theory, she/he should not miss this book.
Formation of the Earth and life as well as SETI are briefly covered.
It creates exclusion for books by Hubert Reeves, Robert Kirshner, George Smoot, Igor Novikov, Martin Rees, Alan Guth and Donald Goldsmith (please refer to my Listomania List). Silk explains with absolute efficiency and coherence without parallel to other science writers. It is the book I would have selected if I had been asked to take just one with me on uninhabitable island.
Highly recommended!
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on July 20, 2001
This may not be one of the easiest books to read, but it is definetely one of the most informative and up-to-date on the subject. The theories of universe creation, galaxy and star formations, etc., as well as the supporting evidence are presented in full. Speculations on the future, as well as alternative theories to the big bang are briefly covered as well.
The book's difficulty and the fact that it resembles a textbook is the only reason why I downgraded my recommendation from 5 stars. Silk wastes no time and space, and pummels you with facts and theories from the onset, with little in between. The textbook feeling is also conveyed through the author's completely objective tone throughout. This may even seem frustrating to some, especially in the early chapters when Silk presents dozens of competing theories and observations, without even a hint as to which is more likely or which he himself supports. Nevertheless, he does proceed to elaborate on all the major theories and specifies which currently carry the most support in the scientific community and why.
Overall, I highly recommend the book, especially to those who are not new to at least the basic ideas of cosmology. Others will need to be a bit patient as the reading is quite dense -- Silk packs about a 1000 pages of info into 400 pages of text; inevitably you may need to re-read certain parts at times in order to follow the logical flow and development of presented theories. I found the observational data to be too technical sometimes as well, and just took the author's word that it supports the theory forementioned.
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on March 8, 2001
The Big Bang, 3rd Edition Reviewed by: Chris McKinstry, VLT Operator.
This book is about the best introduction to the Universe that one could hope for. I think of it as a giant and highly detailed Scientific American article (including the illistrations and colour photographs.) This updated classic (2nd edition is 11 years old,) is both current and complete (it contains the most recent findings dervied from Hubble and VLT observations.) It even has a VLT picture I helped take of M104 that was released to the public just last month.
As with all good introductions, the math is in the background (actually in chapter notes at the end of the book) making this book accessible to everyone.
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on April 1, 2001
I truly believe that this is the only book you need to read. It has all the concepts, theories about the story. Densly written and every sentence has concept, theory in it. Starts with the history of cosmology and continues with Cosmological Models, Origin of Galaxies, theory of Galaxy formations and star formations and future of the Universe. Inflation and other theories are all covered to the extend that space allows. What I liked most in this book is that it covers everything and you do not need to read ten books to get the idea complete. For more technical oriented person, book has Mathematical section at the end describing the concepts with formulas. Author always gives brief description of concepts and usually he explains any conclusion with reasons so that if you can not derive the conclusion by yourself there is the reason.This book together with Kip Throne's beautiful book on Black Holes will make it complete.
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on September 27, 2007
Joseph's Silk's The Big Bang is one of the finest science books ever written for the educated reader. If you have ever wondered how the universe was born and how it evolved, this book is an invaluable key to understanding these questions. Mr. Silk's prose is very understandable and he clearly explains the myriad topics of modern cosmology. After sketching the origins of modern cosmology; he takes the reader on a dazzling journey which covers evidence for the big bang, the first millisecond of the universe and the primeval fireball, cosmological models, formation of stars, origin and evolution of the galaxies, origin of the heavy elements, the future of the universe, and alternatives to the big bang. The book contains mathematical notes to assist the perplexed/inquiring reader, a detailed glossary, and suggestions for further reading. In addition, the book is richly illustrated with numerous black and white photographs, charts, and diagrams. My favorite diagram is the one on page 98 which depicts alternative big bang models. And on page 96, Mr. Silk clearly lays out the Friedmann equation which is the fundamental equation of big bang cosmology. There is also a center section of beautiful color photographs. And best of all, Amazon offers the book for only $13.95; a bargain at today's prices. I have read several introductory works on cosmology and the big bang but this one stands alone. In summary, this is an excellent expository work on cosmology and the modern big bang theory. If you have any interest in this topic at all, you must have a copy of this book.
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on December 7, 2013
Well written and well organized. Mathematics provided in separate section at the back. A comprehensive review of galaxy formation and stellar evolution.
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on July 24, 2013
Excellent and very readable. I am afraid I find it a little soft on such topics as inflation, dark matter and dark energy.
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on August 12, 2008
Very informative book about the broad knowledge base science now has on cosmology. But I felt it was too inconsistent in its appeal. Never really written in a style that I could relate to. It starts off well, but the last few chapters were difficult to finish. That material was not nearly as interesting as the beginning stuff. But he definitely knows a lot about Cosmology. I just can't relate to his style of communicating that knowledge.

Try Calibrating the Cosmos for a much better read.
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on October 11, 2005
I've read quite a few books on astrophysics, cosmology, etc., and this is one of the most poorly written books I've come across. It's too bad, because the writer is trying to be current and thorough. But he doesn't know how to write clearly, his grammar is terrible, he skips steps in his explanations, jumps all over the place, and leaves you wondering "what in the heck is this guy trying to say??". Not recommended.
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