Customer Review

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Halpern's virtual discovery account is curious and fascinating, more exciting than a science fiction book!, October 9, 2012
This review is from: Edge of the Universe: A Voyage to the Cosmic Horizon and Beyond (Hardcover)
*****
"The stream of human knowledge is impartially heading towards a non-mechanical reality. The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter. We are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of this realm."--Sir James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe, 1930
*

In "L'atmosphere Meteorologie Populaire," Camille Flammarion has shown the astronomer as reaching for the truth," depicting him as breaking through the 'shell of appearances' to arrive at an understanding of the fundamental mechanism that lies behind Cosmic appearances. This could have been an impressive cover for Halpern's Voyage to the Cosmic Horizon and Beyond. In Edge of the Universe, Paul Halpern tours the most remote stretch of Cosmological frontier to explore its mysteries, which we are still trying to comprehend. He pushes even further, to reach over the edge of Sir James Jeans's fast expanding universe.

Cosmology is more exciting today than it has ever been since the geocentric cosmology, in the mathematical model of the universe, formulated by the Alexandrian astronomer and mathematician Ptolemy, in his Almagest and Planetary Hypotheses. The resulting Ptolemaic system, Ca. AD 150, persisted with minor adjustments, until the Earth was displaced from the center of the universe in the 16th century by the Copernican system and Kepler's laws of planetary motion. In this lively book, Halpern explains why and leaves us venturesome to explore what astonishments the universe could hide from us.

Halpern adopts an engaging strategy for his book, his cosmic voyage reaches the limits of our cosmic observation slot. From the dawn of time, we retrograde to visualize how the universe was born, and the extent of its edges are reaching farthest. So, in a systematic and orderly discussion, starting with the inflation era to explore the boundaries of our information, points at a major target for his book themes. While trying to keep his reader in the demanding dialogue, he explains 'dark energy' and sheds some light on black holes. The alternatives of inflation follows, with a hint on what builds the universe's structure.

Eventually Halpern explores the discovery of cosmic acceleration before he concludes with the ultimate limits of our cosmic knowledge, but on the way he introduces the reader to the main contemporary players on the cosmological stage. Meeting with cosmic celebrities Roger Penrose to Hawking, and hearing from Krauss and Smolin before the author starts to decide the fate of the universe, which if cognizant (he suggests) might have purchased a book about the "Names of Cosmic Newborns"! Halpern's virtual discovery voyage is fascinating and more exciting than most science fiction books could be.

"We expanded our understanding of the cosmos from a single planet with an intriguing, sparkling sky overhead, to a system of planets circling the sun, then to a galaxy of stars. Now we know that our galaxy, ..., is one part of a universe that includes immense super structures containing thousands of galaxies..., millions of light-years across."-- Gerald Cleaver
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