- Series: Princeton Science Library
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Princeton University Press; 4th edition (April 5, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780691117423
- ISBN-13: 978-0691117423
- ASIN: 069111742X
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,809,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Cosmos (Princeton Science Library) 4th Edition
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"Winner of the 2002 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Physics and Astronomy, Association of American Publishers"
"Finalist for the 2003 Aventis General Prize"
"Kirshner is a talented writer, and both experts and general readers will find his book a consistently enjoyable read. . . . The Extravagant Universe is a personal book. . . . For the general reader interested in the excitement of how science is done, this strategy makes for a fascinating account. . . . The story . . . is irresistible in its own right, and is related with verve and good humor. . . . Books like this one will help inspire the next generation of physicists."---Sean Carroll, Nature
"An extravagant and thoroughly enjoyable account of our amazing universe."---Michael S. Turner, Science
"Robert Kirshner has written an excellent insider's account of the race to discover the fate of the cosmos. . . . Kirshner shows an impressively deft touch with complex explanations, and he doesn't hesitate to bridge gaps in the reader's knowledge with an apt metaphor. . . . The Extravagant Universe delivers the promise of its subtitle extremely well, and should serve as the definitive insider's story of how Kirshner led his motley group of astronomers to glory in their search to find the fate of the universe."---Donald Goldsmith, Natural History
"Fellow astronomers--and generations of Harvard undergraduates--have long appreciated [Kirshner] as a raconteur of exceptional eloquence, so it is hard to imagine anyone better suited to give us the inside story on the new discoveries. [He] does not disappoint. He tells, in large part, a story of how improved technology has enabled astronomers to look farther into the distance and thus further into the past."---Laurence Marschall, Discover Magazine
"The Extravagant Universe is hugely enjoyable. . . . It's wonderful . . . an entertaining and witty account of one of the biggest scientific stories of the past 10 years: how exploding supernovae show that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating. . .. Do buy this delightful book."---Michael Rowan-Robinson, New Scientist
"More than one book already exists about this momentous discovery, but this new entry, The Extravagant Universe, by Robert Kirshner, is probably the best one to read. . . . This is an insider's account of how the work was done. Besides giving an up-to-the-minute account of the science, Mr. Kirshner lets us share vicariously in the thrill of discovery." (The Economist)
"[A] witty new book."---Sharon Begley, Wall Street Journal
"A pleasure to read."---Maggie McDonald, New Scientist
From the Back Cover
'"This book describes a remarkable era in cosmology. Over the last three years several lines of evidence have gelled into a consistent but--to most of us--unexpected picture of what our universe consists of and how it is expanding. Told by a key participant, the story will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in astronomy or cosmology, or even merely a general curiosity about science."--Martin Rees, author ofOur Cosmic Habitat
"This is a wonderful book on one of the hottest topics in science, written by one of the main contributors to the breakthrough. It presents a history of modern cosmology written in a very lively style with amusing personal stories that make the reading easy and entertaining."--Bohdan Paczynski, Princeton University
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He tells the story of the people and the science behind the discovery. The telescopes, the instruments, the technology, but above all the people. He shows science as a very human endeavor filled with competition, different personalities, and struggles. Teamwork is an essential component of large scientific projects today, and Kirshner fully gives credit to both teams who were involved in this undertaking. The book is just rich in astronomical insights, from different types of supernova's, galaxies, the CMB, the age of the universe, to dark matter, and dark energy. I loved it. Buy it. Read it. And enjoy the journey...
The first half of the book is essentially a crash course in the basics of cosmology, with many anecdotes and background from earlier research since Einstein or even before. Kirshner's witty style keeps this section entertaining even for those familiar with the information. He compares several distance indicators, such as Cepheid variables, redshifts, and supernovae. We learn how supernovae can be used to measure distances to remote galaxies due to their incredible brightness. We also become familiar with the pitfalls of using supernovae as standard candles, because there are a few different types.
Then the author gets into the real purpose of his book: to describe his research team's methods, results, and road to success with the press. The subtitle of the book is somewhat misleading; it should have been something like "The Story of the High-Z Supernova Search Team". Though the information wasn't presented in quite the way I was expecting, Kirshner gets the job done. He patiently educates the layman reader in many aspects of astronomy and cosmology. Towards the end it becomes a race between two supernova search teams using different methods. Though I found this yarn interesting, I would have preferred a general discourse to the narrative presented here.
Overall, this book is probably one of the most well-written and absorbing reads on this specific subject. Science and astronomy buffs should enjoy it greatly.