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The Big Bang, Third Edition Hardcover – January 1, 2001
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—Donald Goldsmith, astronomer and author of The Runaway Universe
"Brings a classic right up to date . . . The clearest and most comprehensive of its kind"
—Andrew Liddle, Professor of Astrophysics, University of Sussex
"Silk writes with clarity and authority about a field of deep interest to us all and to which he has made major scientific contributions over the years"
—Bruce Partridge, Haverford College
"A grand, sweeping tour of the Universe. Modern cosmological theories are lucidly explained by an astronomer who was instrumental in constructing them."
—Emory Bunn, Physics Department, Bates College
"This wonderfully detailed book gives an excellent flavor of the complex and rapidly changing field of cosmology."
—Michael Rowan-Robinson, Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine, Physics Department
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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.
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.