on December 17, 2008
The Garfinkle brothers have done a real service for popular science writing. Unlike so many other popular
books, they give the reader a taste of how science is ACTUALLY done. Their explanations are both honest and accurate - not at all an easy task for this type of book. Their central emphasis is on the question: "How do they know this?" The Garfinkles divide the universe into three types: the "perceived", the "detected", and the "theoretical", and discuss how the three are necessarily intertwined. They start with the Sun, then discuss black holes, and finally dark matter and dark energy. There is an enormous amount of information presented along the way in this slim volume, e.g. a detailed discussion of the life and properties of stars and the origins of life. Step-by-step the Garfinkle brothers take the reader through what we know with confidence (and how we know it), what we think we know (and what reasons we have to believe it), and what is still up for grabs (and what some of the possibilities are). Their book is for the reader who really wants to UNDERSTAND, not just be "gee-whizzed" and told, "that's how it is." I particularly like the last chapter, which rightly criticizes the way science is usually marketed to the general public.
on March 3, 2011
This book offers an interesting review of the Sun, black holes, theory of dark matter and dark energy. In addition, there are brief account of Chemistry (that makes life possible), science of life and medicine. It is vividly written and full of lucid explanations with examples from everyday lives.
The most exciting stuff are the mysterious dark matter and dark energy. Direct searches for them are ongoing. However, the usual suspects of dark matter (gas clouds, low-mass stars, white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes) have all been ruled out. The search is now directed to a hypothesized WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particle). On the other hand, investigation of dark energy began with vacuum energy alone.
on August 4, 2011
The book is SO easy to follow, even easier than Hawking's intro level books. The Garfinkle's have an ability to speak qualitatively in a most eloquent manner. You need NO math ability to follow the book, just a little common sense.
Dr. David Garfinkle is also a physics professor at Oakland University. Had him for General Relativity. He can explain almost any physics with a level of math that fits your background.
on May 20, 2009
I think, it is a true popular book among plethora of great but less-popular-more science oriented attempts by prominent cosmologists/physicists. Science at work - this is what we learn here; what we know for sure (how our Sun and stars "live" is particularly unique example of what science is capable to achieve), what we know because models are created based on observations and what are just hypothesis on a border of s-f waiting to be proven by experiments, adequate way of detecting (or both). I recommend this very approachable title mostly to high school students who contemplate studying astronomy or astrophysics in the future.