Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Quintessence: The Mystery of Missing Mass in the Universe
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Scientific Teaching Series
Shop the Scientific Teaching Series from Macmillan.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
Buy it. Live with it for a week. It will pay off. You will be fascinated. Do it now.
For me, the book started off slow. The first chapter is mostly about ancient notions of the universe, with discussions about Aristotle's aether, and things like that. This chapter is basically a very short history of science, from earliest concepts through Einstein's development of the theory of relativity, and the demise of the aether. With the theory of relativity, physics viewed empty space as just that - empty. The idea of a uniform background of invisible stuff (particles, aether, etc.) lay pretty much discarded.
Then we had the beginnings of the modern science of cosmology and the discovery of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), which has been confirmed as the closest-to-theoretical blackbody radiation source ever discovered. The CMB is one of the pillars of evidence for the expanding universe and the Big Bang theory of cosmology, and Krauss does a nice job of following the historical and logical sequence of discoveries in its development. Within the Big Bang theory, the amount of matter in the universe has broad implications for how the universe will continue to evolve, so any "missing mass" is very important. Krauss covers these topics in a relatively brief but nicely done chapter on the Big Bang and large-scale structure in the universe. One of the things I like best about this book is the extra bit of detail Krauss offers that is often over looked in other books. The sort of details that help the reader better understand the specifics and particulars that real science is made of.
The subjects in this book range from the very large (theories of the evolution of the cosmos) to the very small (concepts and ideas in quantum physics). For example, there is an early introduction to the concept of virtual particles and the resolution they bring to many different and important calculations in physics. One of the most important of these is the philosophical problem of action at a distance, which virtual particles solve nicely by providing a mechanism for transferring force from one particle to another.
Chapter three was one of the most interesting for me, and marks the beginning of the real meat of the book. It describes how astronomers weigh the universe. At first, this can seem either trivial or impossible, depending on your expectations. On one hand, it seems that all you need do is count stars (not literally, of course, but by measuring an average density and multiplying by total volume) multiply by some sort of average stellar weight, and there you have it. On the other hand, closer examination begins to show cracks in that method. What about dim stars? Gas? Dust? Planets? How much mass do they contribute? Krauss does an excellent job of pointing out these difficulties, and showing how, one by one, scientists refined their estimates by including more and more candidates for matter in the universe. It was a monumental task, and Krauss does a nice job of illustrating for the informed layman the incredible intricacies that had to be included in the methods and calculations that went into calculating the amount of barionic matter in the universe.
Next, Krauss shows how you can use Newtonian mechanics to predict the amount of mass within a given radius by measuring how fast objects outside the radius orbit the center. He begins with an example showing the average orbital velocity of the planets as a function of the distance from the sun. He uses this example to predict the solar mass, and to also illustrate how much (how little, actually) other material besides the planets there is in the solar system. I find this aspect of science fascinating; how, with some careful observations of lights in the sky, we can infer the amount of mass resulting from countless unseen specs of dust orbiting the sun in an unimaginably large volume of space.
The orbital velocities for planets in the solar system fall off rapidly with increasing distance from the sun. But when we apply these techniques to galaxies, we see something different: the orbital velocities fall off as if there was an invisible halo of mass around them. Taking the best estimates for matter in a typical galaxy, and measuring the velocities of stars orbiting various galaxies, scientists found that the amount of matter they thought was there is a small percentage of the amount that is inferred by the measured orbital velocities. This is the origin of the central problem of Krauss' book: the missing mass of the universe. We know it's there, but what is it? What is it made of? If current estimates are correct, it is the dominant source of mass in the universe.
Most of the rest of the book looks at the central question of what the missing matter - called dark matter - is made of. Along the way Krauss examines possible candidates from neutrinos and WIMPS to vacuum energy. As I said, this is a nicely written book, and one that wraps a whole lot of information on the universe together. If you enjoy amateur cosmology (like I do) I think you'll want to read it.
Krauss, who is the Chairman of Physics at Case Western Reserve University, explains in great detail that the old idea the missing mass of space is nothing more than the space itself. Krauss has written a highly convincing book.
Krauss shows that is given enough black space, a gravitational pull will occur and therefore cause the universe to alter its position. While I am a little more than a novice in this area I found the reading fascinating and hard to put down.
What captured my attention was Krauss's quantum fluctuations of empty space and how it can create a, as he calls it, a nonzero energy. Grab a copy of this book and you can read his explanation of this phenomenon. Overall this book was very good, although tailored to specific reader genre.