In Calculating the Cosmos, Ian Stewart presents an exhilarating guide to the cosmos, from our solar system to the entire universe. He describes the architecture of space and time, dark matter and dark energy, how galaxies form, why stars implode, how everything began, and how it's all going to end. He considers parallel universes, the fine-tuning of the cosmos for life, what forms extraterrestrial life might take, and the likelihood of life on Earth being snuffed out by an asteroid.
Beginning with the Babylonian integration of mathematics into the study of astronomy and cosmology, Stewart traces the evolution of our understanding of the cosmos: How Kepler's laws of planetary motion led Newton to formulate his theory of gravity. How, two centuries later, tiny irregularities in the motion of Mars inspired Einstein to devise his general theory of relativity. How, 80 years ago, the discovery that the universe is expanding led to the development of the Big Bang theory of its origins. How single-point origin and expansion led cosmologists to theorize new components of the universe, such as inflation, dark matter, and dark energy. But does inflation explain the structure of today's universe? Does dark matter actually exist? Could a scientific revolution that will challenge the long-held scientific orthodoxy and once again transform our understanding of the universe be on the way? In an exciting and engaging style, Calculating the Cosmos is a mathematical quest through the intricate realms of astronomy and cosmology.
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Fine book, mrs malaprop for a reader
Lots of new information about the cosmos, including a terrific discussion of the growing doubts about the Big Bang and mutliverses. Many twists on gravity and the arrangement of the various different kinds of bodies in the Universe that were new to me and very intriguing, e.g., LaGrange points and the asteroid belt.
Dana Hickox is fine but for a raft of mangled pronunciations. Principia, Charon, Copernicus, Bethe, LaPlace, Magellanic and many others - OK names can be tricky - but boson, parabola, hyperbola, spontaneity, radii, chirality and, for God's sake, analogous. Hickox needs to slow down and look up pronunciations and stop taking flying leaps. He is actually a very good reader but blows it by being lazy on the look ups.
Crank alert: rejects modern cosmology
The first half of the book is a nice survey of our solar system, it's formation, and discovery.
The second half goes off the deep end with bizarre dark matter denial, and crank alternatives to the Big Bang. He also gives a totally incorrect description of Schrodinger's cat.
The author seems to see himself as an outsider as a Mathematician. He constantly attacks a straw man of the physics community. He says things like, "nobody thinks about the boundary conditions" (which is simply false) and "there's also a tenancy to overstate the implications of the latest idea or discovery" (which is true about the media, but not about the scientific community).
This book is a good example of Max Planck's maxim "Science progresses one funeral at a time." This author just can't seem to accept scientific discoveries made after ~1950.
- James "Give me science, or give me death!"