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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2009
New cosmological solutions (models for the Universe that were not contemplated by general relativity) are suggested by physicist Gabriele Veneziano in collaboration with the author. Therefore, just to simplify, we read the Big Bang took place, but it did not involved a moment of infinite density, and inflation took place before not after Big Bang. Such conclusion can be obtained by quantum loop approach. But here we have the hazarded guesses by using symmetries of quantum strings - time did not have a a beginning and will not have an end. Such scenario is called "symmetry of time reversal" where dilation field plays the role. Mentioned is as well "ekpyriotic" model based on strings (for details check excellent: "Endless Universe" by Steinhardt and Turok where they did much better job explaining riddles of standard inflationary model vs. string models).

Fascinating topics indeed. Unfortunately I tend to agree with the first reviewer (quote): "this is not a book written in non-technical language as the publisher claims". It is more than popular dissertation being closer to scientific presentation, where just a few plottings and illustrations are difficult to understand. I often struggled reading verbal descriptions of math equations (for example: "An expansion of the partition function in a series of higher-genus world sheets thus becomes an expansion in powers of the exponential of the dilation, exp Æ"). I would clearly prefer math formulas (when not too complicated) rather than "textural" approach. Author chose rather cumbersome way to explain differences between Einstein's and string geometry describing and picturing evolution of the spacial radius R and horizon radius c/H for a model of Universe (nothing to mention that concepts of both: spacial and horizon radius, are hard to grasp). Same relates to graphs picturing frequency and energy density of gravitational background radiation, where log scale is introduced, but text refers to straight numbers - confusing for inexperienced reader.
Lack of glossary of terms is hugely disappointing. Buy this book only if you are a die-hard cosmology follower. Otherwise I strongly recommend easier, greatly illustrated (in colors) and compact article from Scientific American magazine: "Was the big bang really the beginning of time?" by Gabriele Veneziano.
Anyway, lots depends on Planck space mission. It may or may not confirm/reject quantum string models, even wraparound models. Time will tell.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2009
"The Universe before the Big Bang: cosmology and string theory" gives an informative popular description of modern cosmology together with the application of String Theory to this fascinating area of research. The first part gives a broad description of General Relativity and the Standard Cosmological Model; thereafter the author takes a detailed look at the strengths and weaknesses of this cosmological model. The inflationary model and the basics of string theory are then introduced, whereby the author succeeds in engendering a pleasant tension that culminates in the description of quantum cosmology and latest theoretical ideas in cosmology. But the book is not only theoretical: Where appropriate, e.g. in the chapter on gravitational waves, the reader is given interesting insight into Earth- and space-based experiments, nicely revealing the links between physical theories and their potential validation.

Hard to believe, and unlike other popular books on this topic, there are no equations in this book; this, together with the presence of cartoons and useful diagrams, gives the nonspecialist easy access to exciting cutting-edge science, from String Theory to Inflation and Brane Universes. Occasional historical excursions into the evolution of cosmological models add to the pleasure of reading this book.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2009
This is a fascinating book showing the possibility that the Big Bang looses "its rather mystical role as the beginning of everything, to become a more modest beginning of the current phase of the Universe ", as the author claims in the Conclusion.
With an introduction to String Theory, its duality symmetry and its dilation field, Gasperini portrays a pre Big Bang scenario which avoids the singularity of the Big Bang. Although this is a mathematical theory, it could be sustained experimentally in the next 20 years when better gravitational wave devices (the interferometer formed by three LISA satellites in an equilateral triangle with a side of 5 million km, for example) are constructed, as the spectrum of a cosmic background of gravitons predicted by this theory is different from the classical inflationary theories. Other possible experimental verifications are discussed, among them the author claims that the still unknown seed of the cosmological magnetic fields could be explained with his theory. A further possibility is that the dilation field is a plausible candidate to explain dark energy.
However, this is not a book written in non-technical language as the publisher claims. You probably need at least a degree in physics to follow most of its arguments. This is the reason I rate it only with three stars.
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on January 7, 2015
Books that dumb down have a short half-life?
The author can do better as his book "Theory of Gravitational Interaction:s shows.
I tend to read this sort of book from the index: looking for new
information and sources. I also notice what is left out: Weeks, Thurston,3 manifolds, Seifert surface,
Weyl gauge, phase rule,Euler characteristic,Calibi-Yau surfaces,
Minimal surfaces,Null Ricci, Higgs Boson, and Mexican hat potential.
On the other column are the nice diagrams and the analysis
of Dirichlet and Neumann boundary conditions.
He also thinks that Brans-Dicke scalar gravitational theory is
important to string theory which makes him one up on most D-brane books.
My experience with authors like this one is they
wrote the book for money alone
and they aren't interested in the comments
of anybody stupid enough to buy it.
Some of these authors actually want to teach.
The cosmic microwave background anisotropy explanation as axiomic
in origin seem a stretch: I lean toward a multiple gauge boson
from a 3 manifold minimal vacuum field connected to a 3^3 Picard group
symmetry breaking. Axions are Hawking's fun math toy for the early
universe and probably so much Wimp vapor as was his end of science
which it appears now he didn't believe in.
What this author excels in is duality theory in the early universe
and probably wrote the book to make his ideas more popular.
He is weak on the connection of knot and link 3 manifold theory
to higher dimensional string theory and the connection of
Neumann boundaries to Calibi-Yau surfaces.
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