Customer Reviews: The Left Hand of Creation: The Origin and Evolution of the Expanding Universe
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John David Barrow (born 1952) is an English cosmologist, theoretical physicist, and mathematician, who is Professor of Astronomy at the University of Sussex, England, who has also written/cowritten The Infinite Book: A Short Guide to the Boundless, Timeless and Endless,The Book of Universes: Exploring the Limits of the Cosmos,Life, the Universe, and the Anthropic Principle,The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, etc. Joseph Silk is a professor of Astronomy and Physics at UC Berkeley, and has written other books such as The Infinite Cosmos: Questions from the Frontiers of Cosmology,On the Shores of the Unknown: A Short History of the Universe,Horizons of Cosmology, etc.

They wrote in the Introduction to the new (1993) edition of this book, "in the 1980s cosmology entered a new and exciting phase from which it may never emerge. It became a branch of physics. New ideas about the nature and number of the most elementary particles of matter focused interest upon the behavior of matter and radiation at the highest possible energies and temperatures---higher than any that can be achieved on earth." (Pg. vii) They explain, "Our goal is to unveil the shrouded secrets of the earliest instants of the universe and to elucidate the cosmic connection between the beginnings of the universe and what we observe about us today." (Pg. 26) They continue, "All that we observe around us is linked inextricably to conditions in the exceedingly remote past. That is our theme." (Pg. 28)

They observe, "The steady-state concept of creation ex nihilo blatantly stole an official part of Christian dogma to serve an almost non-Christian goal, but the notion of continuous creation throughout all of space served aptly to counterpoint the opposing theory of a unique creation in the remote past. The battle for a steady-state universe of infinite age and continuous creation was waged in the 1950s and lost in the 1960s." (Pg. 13)

They point out, "There seem to be no rules at all about what could happen near a naked singularity... Despite this microscopic indeterminacy, the gross motion of a large body of air is predictable. Naked singularities might turn out to be no more unpredictable than any other statistical system... This brings us full circle back to cosmology, for there certainly does appear to exist at least one naked singularity: the `big bang.' Our observations of the universe show that it seems to have been highly ordered rather than chaotic. The earth, the stars, and the galaxies are just a few of its outpourings." (Pg. 55-56)

They reject the idea of an oscillating/cyclic universe: "Attractive though this idea is, it is spoilt because, unfortunately, as the oscillations proceed, radiation tends to accumulate. The accompanying increase in pressure tends to make each cycle a little bigger than the last. The expansion will also build up more and more chaotic regularity as the cycles continue. We do not seem to live in a universe that has inherited such an unusual structure from its predecessors, but we really do not have anything but speculation to go on. Suffice it to say that all ideas about bouncing, cyclic universes are likely to remain in the realm of science fiction for some considerable time to come." (Pg. 71-72)

They note, "Now, if baryon number really is a conserved quantity, then the very large baryon number in the universe... must have been built into the `big bang' at the beginning of time. No physical process could have altered its total value subsequently; there has always been an overwhelming preponderance of matter over antimatter, and none of our theories can explain it. It is a created property of the universe." (Pg. 90)

They acknowledge, "Star birth followed by star death, and gradual enrichment of the matter out of which new stars form by enrichment of the matter out of which new stars form by heavier elements. But some of the details of this birth and death process are obscure... We can speculate, but we do not really understand the details of how stars form now in nearby dense interstellar clouds either." (Pg. 151)

They state, "Taken together, all these arguments give us a powerful conviction that there is something very remarkable about the large-scale isotropy and homogeneity of the universe; something that is not explicable by the simple physical processes we already understand, something that is intimately connected with the events that initiated the expansion of the universe. This might seem like bad news for anyone hoping to explain the observed properties of the world by general principles and laws of nature rather than by special starting conditions, which are by definition inaccessible to the scientific method." (Pg. 173)

They critique the idea of "other universes": "If the early pattern of expansion were sufficiently irregular, some regions of the universe could have already collapsed. If one of these collapsed regions is smaller than the horizon size, a black hole would form. If it were larger than the cosmological horizon size at the moment of collapse, a separate closed universe would result. Events within the closed universe would have no influence upon the outside universe and would remain forever unobservable from outside. We could neighbor one, or indeed many, of these separate closed universes. Such worlds would be collapsing by now, since they must have formed long ago and possess a density much greater than our own universe. The domain of space-time occupied by these universes is inaccessible to us. If we were to look towards them, we would think we were observing events at the beginning of our own universe." (Pg. 193)

They explain, "The anthropic principle has a simple message: the universe has many unusual properties that a priori appear extremely unlikely if we consider the whole gamut of possible universes. But is we ask which of those hypothetical, and seemingly more probable universes we could exist in, we invariably discover that the answer is very few indeed. Our astonishment at some of the striking properties of the universe must be tempered by the realization that many of them are necessary prerequisites for the existence of intelligent observers. The simultaneous existence of a whole range of special coincidences of nature, both in the properties of the universal expansion and in the precise values of the fundamental constants that control the strength of the forces of nature, has tempted some to indulge in further metaphysical explanations. Could simultaneous coincidences that allow our existence be telling us that life in some way be NECESSARY in order to make it meaningful?" (Pg. 206-207)

They say, "If we look at the universe today, it appears far from its initial symmetric state. The forces of nature are now all distinct; the diversity of galaxies, stars, and planets has replaced the once smoothly distributed, expanding sea of radiation. How is it that the perfect symmetry of the beginning can be so completely disguised today? The world is no longer completely uniform. On the contrary, it favors matter over antimatter, left over right. Why have the perfect symmetries been breached to create the varied and structured world about us?" (Pg. 222)

They conclude, "Was the cosmos finely tuned to evolve life? The fact that our own universe is unexpectedly hospitable to life is certainly not an inevitable evolutionary effect. The fact that the laws of nature barely, but only barely, allow stable stars to exist with planetary systems today is not a circumstance subject to evolutionary variation. The world either possesses such invariant properties or it does not. A number of independent properties of the universe are so advantageous to the evolution of life that it almost appears designed with our emergence predestined. Could these remarkable `coincidences' be the camouflage of a Grand Designer?" (Pg. 227-228)

This is an interesting, thought-provoking exploration of some of the questions and issues of contemporary cosmology. It will interest many interested in modern cosmology (particularly those sympathetic to the notion of a "Designer").
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VINE VOICEon February 11, 2006
"For the briefest instant at the origin of time when all laws of physics on an equal footing, all nature's elementary constituents, heavy and light alike, interacted freely and democratically. The most exotic particles known, or even dreamt of, by man were liberated to participate in this unrestrained interchange." Prologue

Left-Handed Creation:

"Amino acids, the molecular building blocks of life (except for a few) are all left-handed.... Why life on the molecular level is like this is a mystery... The astronomers believe that this left-hand bias began long before our Sun was even born. ... Many scientists believe that life could only have developed on Earth because of the bias towards left-handed molecules." (Dr David Whitehouse, BBC Online, July 1998)

The Mysterious Universe:

In the updated new revision to their insightful guide, written for attentive inquirers seeking a telltale that helps solving the old riddle of the cosmological origins, a plausible account for the evolution of the universe, that provides a fascinating view of the different perspectives on this topic was integrally explored. The acclaimed astronomy educators provided the reader with a fresh introduction to survey the main developments on the new phase that cosmology erupted into, the decade following the book's first edition.

Cosmology 101:

One useful method to enjoy the enormous range of scientific topics covered was to read the introduction and prologue, review the Conclusions and Conundrums, before following attentively the authors account of the provocative dynamic unfolding of the Left hand of creation on the Cosmic debate; Cosmos, Origins, creation, evolution, and finally Chaos to cosmos.

In a masterful brief introductory to the thought evoking guide using a minimal technical terminology, to which a thorough Glossary (10 pages) was appended, the astronomical universe's most puzzling features are explored in the light of the technological revolution from the Hubble telescope to the micro computers. In a reader friedly escort, onto the NASA Cosmic Explorer COBE, you will be fascinated by the scientific account from the primordial furnace during the initial Big Bang to develop into moving streams of galaxies, and from nucleosynthesis to superstrings, dark matter, explaining the idea of inflation.

Cosmos from Chaos:

The serious inquiry starts with the controversial debate on adam's belly button, and proceeds on the age of the cosmos utilizing clear and informative graphics from Hubble law to Le Chatalier principle applied to the universe phase transition. I am at a great loss to review the book landmarks which covered the genius human vision to percieve the predictions and link them with the proofs from Friedman to Eddington on the expanding universe, and the curious origin of Bondi's Steady-state concept of 'creation ex nihilo' initiated by the great master John Philoponus of the sixth century Alexandrine Academy.

Acclaimed authors:

Dr. John Barrow, FRS, is an English theoretical physicist and Research Professor of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge. He is also a popular-science writer, he obtained his doctorate from the University of Oxford, and has worked at the University of California at Berkeley. His first book, The Left Hand of Creation, published in 1983, and has authored further 15 books.

Dr. Joseph Silk, is Professor of Astronomy and chairman of Oxford University Astrophysics, following a 30-year career at the U. of California, Berkeley. Professor Silk, a Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard, (two hundred invited lectures on primarily galaxy formation and cosmology), is author of many popular articles and books 'The Big Bang, and 'A Short History of Universe.'
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